Not Dressing Like a Sherpa

New boutique hopes to revamp eco fashion's dowdy image

This is a city of greenmarket groupies and Whole Foods hounds, but move beyond the five-buck-a-pound tomatoes and fruit-acid exfoliants—and onto the topic of green fashion—and the enthusiasm drops considerably. It's not a wholly undeserved reaction. While the concept of organic cotton and recycled fabrics are appealing in theory, it's no secret that the phrase green fashion has become synonymous with a distinct dowdiness—think "ethnic" by way of crafts and crunchiness. The past few years have seen some notable exceptions—Bono's Edun line, Rogan jeans—but it'll take an army of these labels to balance out years of shapeless hemp caftans and Fred Flintstone clogs. Everyone wants to save the environment; no one wants to look like they lingered too long at the love-in.

Kaight, an upscale eco-shop which opened last month on the Lower East Side, hopes to change the negative perception. It's an ambitious goal, but not an impossible one—we live in the era of the organic doggie biscuit, after all. Surely there are now enough fashionable eco lines to fill a one-room boutique?

Owner Kate McGregor has a few notable scores: E ko logic's graphic shift dresses fashioned from recycled cashmere sweaters; Stewart+Brown's whisper-weight organic-cotton camisoles; Undesigned by Carol Young's raw denim jeans. For jewelry, Kaight features Lulu Frost, the brand of 23-year-old jewelry designer Lisa Salzer, who fashions old Plaza Hotel room numbers, antique compasses, glass spectacles, and steel buckles from the 1800s into striking, one-of-a-kind baubles. The British line Beyond Skins, specializing in natural-fabric shoes, is a prime example of the more successful marriage between vegan principles and fashion—but just like the Toyota Prius, you'll have to pay out for the pleasure of wearing these non-leather, non-clunky shoes. Prices for the handmade fabric stilettos and pumps lie well within the $200-$400 range.

The greatest problem with the shop, however, is not just high prices but inconsistency—why would you sell Lulu Frost next to unremarkable floral shirtdresses or actress Jaime Pressley's forgettable line of jersey knits? That's right, Jaime Pressley—not merely content with Emmy nomination for My Name is Earl or the starring (starring!) role in Poison Ivy 2, our favorite Maxim cover girl recently busted out "J'aime by Jaime Pressley", a line of interchangeable (read: bland) wrap dresses and tops. Sherpa no more?

 
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