Vogue Tries This Eco-Friendly Thing On For Size


Anna Wintour heard about this so-called “environmentally friendly” fashion, so she sent her crack team of stylists to go out find some of it, to put it in her magazine. Her very eco-friendly magazine. The result? $2,895 trench coats.

Or, excuse me, it’s a “traditionally English trench” from “eco-pioneer Stella McCartney.” It “gets its color-of-the-moment camel shade from a low-impact dyeing process.”

This Michael Kors cashmere dress — “entirely chemical-free” — is $1,695. The ring is a Kimberley-certified diamond, the bracelets are recycled gold, and the watch is solar-powered.

This dress “gets its deep-olive hue from a dye made of coffee and tea.”

I don’t mean to deny the impact of things like organic cotton and cashmere — let alone conflict-free diamonds. (Although the Kimberley Process‘s effectiveness in that regard has been called into question, most recently in late 2009, when it certified as “conflict-free” diamonds from Zimbabwean mines where there were widespread reports of soldiers committing human rights abuses, including rape, against miners.) Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most water-intensive and pesticide-intensive crops on the planet — which means cotton production contributes to desertification and often pollutes waterways with insecticides and fertilizers. Conventional cashmere production, too, is contributing to desertification though over-grazing in places like Mongolia.

But a $1,295 organic cotton sweater?

Vera Wang‘s architectural bustier gets its aerodynamic lift from strong hemp fibers, but its softness comes from ‘violence-free’ silk, which is harvested without harming the silkworms that spun the threads.”

Somewhere along the line, the idea of a $995 bustier actually ceased to be totally obscene to me. Insane, sure, but offensive? Nah. You see enough handbags the cost of a used car, and it becomes water off a duck’s back. Yet somehow, you add “ethical” as a descriptor and my outrage comes right back.

The fashion industrial complex can charge what it likes for its wares, of course, but don’t tell me the tiny fraction of people who can afford such things are in any way more “virtuous” than the rest of us. Especially when there is eco-friendly clothing out there that is both well-designed and vastly more moderately priced. But hey, why would Vogue pass up an opportunity to pimp an $1,895 Donna Karan sweater dress?

Oh, look. A $110 turtleneck. In context, that starts to look like a deal.

Sasha Pivovarova by Patrick Demarchelier for American Vogue November 2010
[Fashion Gone Rogue]

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