Local Culture

Saving the Enviroment, One Dress at a Time

“Eco-Fashion: Going Green” at the Museum of FIT

by Nicole Zak   |   Jul 5, 2010

Saving the Enviroment, One Dress at a Time

From Costello Tagliapietra’s spring 2010 collection, on display at the museum (Photo: AirDye, via Flickr)


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Eco-fashion hasn’t just emerged from the rubble; the ways of eco-fashion have been followed for hundreds of years, but due to industrialization and mass production, the minimal cost of clothing production has been favored over the environment.

But becoming environmentally sound is a serious matter, which is why the Museum at FIT (Seventh Avenue at 27 Street) recently launched a new exhibit called “Eco-Fashion: Going Green” in the hopes of spreading the word of how making eco-choices can improve the world with each action taken. And with other 100 techniques, you’d be hard pressed not to find a way to help the condition of our fragile environment.

“Many eco-fashion designers begin with materials made from organic or sustainable materials, such as hemp or bamboo,” said Colleen Hill, one of Going Green’s curators, along with Jennifer Farley. Hill added, “Fabrics made from these resources have become increasingly available and refined in recent years. The sophisticated designs made from such fabrics have made eco-fashion much more attractive to consumers.” Examples of the fabrics referred to include bamboo, hemp, tussah silk, organic cotton and repurposed vintage fabrics, with organic cotton being the most widely used.

The most common method used in creating eco-friendly attire is making use of previously worn garments and repurposing the vintage fabric to create wearable art, some of which are displayed at the gallery with skirts, dresses and gowns galore.

Printing and dying throughout the 20th century took a turn for the worse when, instead of using natural dyes from fruits and flowers, people began using harsh chemicals, like bleach, instead. Further examples are discussed in the exhibit, including a Costello Tagliapietra dress that uses an AirDye heat-transfer process to minimize water usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

With each eco-step we take, we can improve the current state of our environment, something our offspring will be quite thankful for. Simple changes, such as trading in your bleach for a natural stain remover like citric acid, can make a difference. Thanks to the donated pieces in the Museum at FIT exhibit, on display until November, others can look at how to reduce their carbon footprint, while at the same time looking drop dead gorgeous.