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Let Fashion Guide You

Resources for sustainable shopping.

Let fashion guide you

By Haley Church


When was the last time you went to your local department store and asked if the salesgirl could find you a white tank top in a Lyocell blend? If you did, what kind of “I don’t speak Greek” look did you get from her? Come to think of it, why on earth would you even want a tank top made with Lyocell? I’m so glad you asked.

Lyocell is produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells, and constitutes a new fiber for clothing applications. The production process for Lyocell is environmentally friendly – the fiber has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100 percent bio-degradable. For those of you who shop for organic and natural clothing, you might know this fiber by its brand name, Tencel. So, to answer that previous question: “Why on earth…?” It’s for earth.

Other natural textiles being used in today’s organic fabric fashion scene include organic cotton, cashmere, silk, hemp, ramie, organic bamboo, soy, organic wool, Japanese Olympus and many more.

Shopping options


Many companies are hopping on the organic fabric bandwagon. One of the larger natural textile clothing companies is Planet Earth Green Label clothing. Planet Earth Green Label is a range of men’s clothing aimed at the urban market, manufactured from natural, organic and sustainable materials including organic cotton, hemp, ramie and recycled materials. You can find their collection of organic items, ranging from denim to knits and from fleece pullovers to organic cotton shorts at www.planetearthgreenlabel.com.

For the international shopper, the Swedish-based children’s clothier Hanna
Andersson has been established on the natural fibers market for over 20 years. If you have been shopping for organic fabrics for long, Hanna Andersson is one of the more recognizable brands, especially since they are not just for children anymore. All age groups are able to choose from the hundreds of items they carry.

If you’re looking to support other locally based retailers and designers, a great place to start is Of the Earth, whose headquarters are in Bend, Oregon. Since 1992, Of the Earth’s founders and designers Hélène Bisnaire and Richard Ziff, have been making beautiful clothing out of sustainable products. They use combinations of Tencel, hemp, organic cotton, cashmere, silk, ramie and other natural materials to create stylish clothing that has been featured in magazines such as Whole Living Body + Soul and Natural Health, and can be viewed at www.oftheearth.com.

If you’re looking for local organic retailers with a larger index of designers, Greenloop is based in southeast Portland and carries over 20 organic fashion designers who have recently released their 2007 Summer of Sustainability collections. If you’re an organic fabric name brand enthusiast, Greenloop carries designers such as: Anna Cohen, Ciel, Kelly B., Stewart+Brown, and many more. The collections can be seen at www.thegreenloop.com.

Fashion has come a long way throughout history: men have been seen in faddy fashions such as Nehru jackets, bellbottoms, white stockings (in revolutionary days), and piano themed neck ties alike. Women have worn anything from short fringy flapper dresses, to tapered jeans, from shoulder pads to rib-crushing corsets. What do they all have in common besides looking utterly ridiculous? The lack of comfort. Not only are the above organic fabrics environment friendly, but most of them are comfortable too.

For whatever reason you choose to wear these fabulous fibers, future generations will thank you. The Earth will thank you. And at the very least, perhaps somewhere down the line in a fashion article in the future, some writer might not make fun of your style choices.

Haley Church is a freelance writer in Gresham, Oregon.
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