The fashion industry has long held a connotation of decadence, from the sheer price of designer clothing to the luxury materials used to make furs, feathers and even precious gems. Sure it’s an exciting spectacle to behold, but with decadence often comes waste. This is obvious in higher-end fashion circles, where rare and expensive materials are imported to fulfill design desires, but could also be true in your own closet. Much of the clothing worn in the U.S. and other big industrialized countries is manufactured and assembled overseas (think of all the times you’ve seen “Made in Bangladesh” and the like on labels) and shipped to us. So there’s the raw materials components in clothing—cotton, for instance, can require immense inputs—and the shipping to consider as well. Add it up, and you’ll see clothing can take a toll not only on your wallet, but on the environment as well.
Luckily, there are a growing number of designers looking to improve the fashion world and make it more sustainable and accessible. These designers are using organic, sustainably harvested plant fibers to make their clothing, and using recycled and reclaimed materials to give new life to old cloth and clothing. This process of revamping old clothes into something new is commonly called “upcycling.” The result is an array of eclectic styles, ranging from the classically chic to the wildly creative. Click on an image to learn more about the designer and their eco-efforts.