Vintage Cool and Swinging Pants: Fall's Eco-Fashion Trends

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Summer Rayne Oakes gives the Fall's Top 5 Eco-fashion Trends Report here.

"There was no following of eco-fashion trends six years ago," Oakes points out. "Eco-conscious designers were just stabbing in the dark and creating their own path. They still aren’t afraid to experiment — but now the movement is more in tune with the pulse on the [traditional fashion] ground."

To help you update your fall wardrobe with style savvy and environmental aptitude, we asked Oakes for her take on this season's green fashion trend reports. Here's her top-five list of what to look for:

1. Organic cotton denim

Organic cotton jeans are big news this season. So many of my friends have purchased some form of organic denim for their wardrobes. [Editor’s note: You can get a pair custom-designed for your fabulously unique body at]

Organic cotton is the default eco-fabric of choice for eco fashion in general — along with silks and silk blends. Many designers are also using bamboo, though some I’ve spoken with are phasing it out until they can get a more reliable supply.

I’ve also seen a handful of great designers working with alpaca, a wonderful fiber for the fall/winter 2007–2008 season.

2. Sculptural feminine shapes

Fashion-forward eco-conscious brands are integrating some of the general fashion trends of the season.

Slouchy pants and swinging cuts are in favor as we head into the Fall/Winter 2007-2008 season. And sweaters are over-sized but don’t look like your boyfriend’s cardigan — most have sculptural shapes that flatter a woman’s body.

3. Vintage & local finds

I’ve been playing the vintage card — old belts and bags at my local vintage and thrift shops are always excellent finds.

My hot vintage red dress with white ginkgo print is one piece in my fall wardrobe that I feel especially proud of from a responsibility standpoint. I bought it at a local vintage shop. Also, my army green high-waisted organic cotton skirt with cropped bubble-sleeve jacket by Bahar Shahpar, a local (New York) eco-fashion designer. I bought the two-piece set at a local shop.

I like to support local designers and support the local economy. For one thing, it saves on carbon emissions.

4. Affordability

Cost is coming down because retailers with economy of scale are introducing eco fashion product lines. As independent designers grow, they’re able to introduce more affordable products to the market.

5. Next wave: Fair trade & socially responsible fashions

One of the most unacceptable things about “conventional” fashion is sweatshop conditions (though this doesn’t go for all “conventional” fashion). Ethical and social well-being for workers has not been a focal point for many designers this season — but I predict it has to be and will be, once the fervor for purely green issues wanes.

Small communities are being lifted out of poverty through fair trade all over the world — in Guatemala, Bangladesh, India, Peru. I’ve also seen, right here in California, farmers getting the same or better yields with sustainable farming techniques.

I went to film a show the other day with what I thought were going to be with a bunch of punk kids from all over the U.S. I suppose I was preparing myself for the worst — you know, apathy for what’s happening in the world.

It was the total opposite. Every single kid was so sweet, so receptive, and aware to a certain extent of what is going on [with fashion’s environmental and social impact]. They may not have had the tools or the means in terms of what to do about it, but the messaging is out there. Now we just have to drive it home.

(Summer Rayne wears a vintage dress above. Photo: Robert August)

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