Organic Fashion

The first store of organic and ethical fashion in Prague has recently been opened at Vinohrady Prague 2

This article provided by Anja Smith.

Men's shirts made from hemp, dresses fashioned from Chinese nettle, handmade knitwear, flip-flops with soles made from old rubber tires, reusable shopping bags, felt boots, iron mugs instead of plastic cups -- a healthy and sustainable lifestyle is getting trendy!

The fashion world is all about signals and today anyone who buys clothes that meet ecological and ethical standards is demonstrating that they're hip and responsible.

Even couturiers like Versace and Armani are experimenting with hemp, bamboo, soya silk, ramie and similar fabrics.

And organic underwear -- effectively a form of contraceptive, a few years ago! -- is now getting really hot.

Jennifer Lopez, for instance, wears chic bikinis made from soya silk, created by beach fashion designer Ashley Paige. So organic/bio fashion doesn't have to mean shapeless dresses in a "timeless" style.

What exactly does "organic and ethical" mean?
It's one of the privileges of our civilization to be able to dress in style, but some fashion designers feel responsibility to make that style sustainable.

That means using organic fabrics such as:

Hemp
The most durable of natural fibers, and eco-friendly, hemp requires no pesticides or fertilizers, needs little water, and renews the soil with each growth cycle. So it's strong, weather-resistant, cost-effective, and easy on the environment.

Organic cotton
Cotton grown without pesticides, from plants that aren't genetically modified. Production of conventional, non-organic cotton uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts in total for 16 percent of world pesticides.

Organic agriculture uses crop rotation instead of agrochemicals. Because of this, organic cotton costs more to produce but has less of an environmental impact than conventional cotton.

Ramie
A flowering plant in the nettle family, ramie has been grown in China for many centuries.

Ramie is known especially for its ability to hold its shape, shrug off wrinkling, for the silky, lustrous appearance.

Also known as Chinese nettle, ramie is one of the most valuable natural fibers. Its use dates back over 4,500 years in China, where it was widely distributed.

Ramie fibers are water-resistant and make for long-lasting textiles with a natural shine.

Ramie is finer than hemp, and stronger than cotton by nearly eight times, but it is difficult to extract.
It's also important to follow the "fair trade" philosophy of doing business:

There are some umbrella labels used by fashion brands to show that their clothes take into account health, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice. One of them is MADE-BY.

The brands affiliated with MADE-BY use organic cotton and work with sewing factories that have a social code of conduct.

Thirty million people work in the clothing industry around the world. This labor-intensive sector is concentrated in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, where wages are low and factories often don't comply with international working and environmental standards.

Respectable sewing factories guarantee the health and safety of employees, don't employ children, pay a living wage, and adhere to humane working hours.

MADE-BY helps brands clean up their manufacturing process.

And there's one more reason to wear organic fibers.

Many people with sensitive skin will tell you that they are allergic to fibers. What is often the case, is that they're allergic to the harsh chemicals that are used to process the fibers. Organic materials, on the other hand, are hypoallergenic.

The hope for the future, say green campaigners, is that organic clothing will become as popular as organic food -- that, for the health of the planet, more and more people will buy organic clothes, and, for their own health, will wear those organic clothes.

So, I'll put on my ramie playsuit while taking a walk in Letná. And, when I'm there, why not use an iron mug to drink from, rather than a plastic cup?

Then, why not always carry reusable shopping bags, in brightly colored, modern designs?

And in summer, when I invite guests over to my Vinohrady apartment for a party, why not offer them Chinese fans instead of installing air-conditioning?

Evergreen is Prague's first boutique selling organic and ethical fashion. For contact details, see the Evergreen Boutique website.

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