The Evolving Fashion Industry: Eco-couture

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Guest Contributors

Today we’re proud to bring you thoughts from one of our favorite eco-retailers, Joyce Justicz of Evolve Boutique.  That fabulous dress Mandy was wearing on the night Sean proposed?  It was selected by Sean with Joyce’s recommendation from her boutique!


Evolve BoutiqueFirst it was a beautiful recycled cashmere jacket that caught my eye.  Then a leather handbag reconstructed from a vintage motorcycle jacket.  Pretty soon I was on the hunt for even more one-of-a-kind wearable works of art.  A few years ago, finding such pieces was a real challenge, yet lately I was noticing the start of a trend.   Moreover, not only were these items becoming my personal favorites, other people wanted to know where to find similar things for themselves.  A retail spot opened up near my house, and before I knew it, I signed on as a boutique owner, one with zero retail experience. 

But I had been somewhat obsessive in my internet research and had educated myself on what was available, I already knew about several sources for re-purposed items.  However, because these represented such a small percentage of eco design, I expanded the merchandise to include new items made from earth friendly fabrics, as well as eco bags, jewelry and accessories.  And though my passion and focus is on eco merchandise, I have included some mainstream design to attract more people and hopefully turn them on to the beauty of the earth friendly items. 

I am continually struck with the ingenuity and resourcefulness demonstrated by eco clothing and jewelry designers in their beautiful creations.  For example, clothing designers employ several approaches in addressing the eco issue.  Some choose to make their designs with organic and sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton, bamboo, and modal.  Others use “rescued” fabrics, ie fabric overruns from larger design houses that would be destined for disposal in landfills.  Then, of course, some designers upcycle several vintage or thrift store finds into a new and improved version.  One of the wonderful benefits to this last approach is that the customer gets a truly unique item, and generally with no added expenditure. 

Jewelry designers have a similar repertoire of ways to be earth friendly.  One of the most obvious ways to address the issue is to make jewelry out of melted down and recycled glass and metals.  Sometimes designers choose to incorporate materials sourced from discarded items, such as tins, broken bits of older jewelry, or vintage buttons.  Also there are those who make jewelry using found materials right from nature’s bounty:  rocks, shells, vine, even skeletons!  There is no more direct way of promoting a respect for the environment than by wearing a recycled piece of nature. 

So, really, eco-fashion is a combination of factors and encompasses a variety of ideas.  Though I have concentrated on the aspect of sustainable and recycled materials, it does include manufacturing the clothing in an eco-conscious way, such as factories that recycle waste water and use wind-power….or supporting companies that donate a percentage of their profits to eco-related causes.  It includes practices such as locally sourcing, which means supporting independent local designers, thus saving on fuel and shipping.   This has the added benefit of keeping a store’s selection a unique mix by including these neighborhood artisans. 

To sum up, I really think that eco-fashion is a form of conscious living, an informed decision to buy clothing that is made in an environmentally conscientious way, without sacrificing one bit of style or aesthetics.  And it is one trend that is here to stay. 

For your own eco-couture, visit Evolve Boutique.