Tree-hugging used to invoke stinky, frizzy-haired hippie dorks who could only be found at Sierra Club meetings. Now it’s totally trendy. Just flip on your MTV for a goofy recycling lecture from Cameron Diaz, whose new show, Trippin’, follows her (and other celebs) to environmentally significant corners of the earth. Of course, most viewers are probably more interested in seeing famous people hang out in bikinis than they are in reading the statistics about glaciers at the bottom of the screen. Nevertheless, if you want to prove you’re down with Mother Earth, and don’t have the time to travel to Nepal like Diaz, there are many fashionable ways to make a statement. After all, you are what you wear.
As with any trend, there are different levels at which you can express your allegiance. At the top is FutureFashion, an initiative from a company called Earth Pledge. Director Leslie Hoffman enlisted an impressive group of designers (Imitation of Christ, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, and Proenza Schouler are just a few) to create eco-friendly clothing for a runway show at New York’s fashion week. The looks went far beyond organic cotton, using innovative materials like recycled polyester, hemp-silk, organic wool, and bamboo. The most amazing part is that none of it was reminiscent of Bladerunner. Well, at least not in a bad way. The show was a major success, generating the kind of excitement Earth Pledge was going for. Hoffman said, “We were overwhelmed by a response from the industry chain—from fabric producers to designers to a major retailer—which indicated the value of our approach.”
To stock up on earth-friendly duds with street cred, take a visit to Memes, a men’s and women’s boutique specializing in underground designers, including Plan D, whose $88 zip-up hoodie hangs on a shelf. It is dark blue and printed with small white cars (cars=pollution=bad). On the left side of the chest there is a sewn-on patch featuring an illustration of an imaginary mammal riding a circus bike. He is holding a banner that reads “Stop Driving.” The brand’s mission is not just pro-environment, but anti-corporate. Ultimately, as their website says, they “believe it is time for the system to change.”
But these are not the first cotton goods to market their moral high ground. American Apparel has made sweatshop-free sexy (especially when it’s barely covering a butt), and is introducing the world to sustainable cotton, which is made from 100 percent organic cotton. Unlike your organic chicken, or milk, these shirts do not cost twice as much as the brand’s regular cotton Ts. As in the food world, organic clothing advocates are trying to protect the Earth from harmful growing methods, like the use of chemicals and wasting resources. They are also concerned about the health of farmers and factory workers, but the organic wearer is not affected the way the organic eater is. Therefore, this movement depends on motivated Earth lovers—or Cameron Diaz fans—to generate followers.