London fashion students hail green as the new black

Tuesday, 6 March 2012 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Could “green” be the new black? Perhaps only if you can imagine wearing stilettos made from pistachio nuts and coffee beans and clothes from orange peel, fungi and mould.

While the fashion pack are hitting the catwalks at Paris Fashion Week, students at London’s Kingston University have taken up the challenge of trying to lower the industry’s carbon footprint by using biodegradable materials to produce luxury clothes, shoes and accessories for home and car interiors.

The fashion industry has a high environmental footprint.

The manufacture of synthetic fibers like polyester alone produces nearly five times as much carbon dioxide per kilogram as some organic cotton and more than twice as much as hemp, according to a Stockholm Environment Institute study.

According to waste industry reports, more than one million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year, with most going to landfill and only 25 percent recycled.

InCrops, an initiative based at the University of East Anglia, sponsored the Kingston fashion project, asking students to create designs that show renewable raw materials derived from crops can be used to create low or zero carbon fashion.

A range of futuristic fabrics, garments, and designs will be unveiled at an event at Kingston University on Thursday.

Apart from stilettos made from pistachio shells and coffee beans, designs include a wood-chip corset by British designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse, which was unveiled at London Fashion Week last September and modeled by singer Pixie Lott in Vogue.

Other designs include a bodice made from orange peel by Hoyan Ip and scented jewelry made from biodegradable plastic.

“InCrops’ interest in the luxury sector gave us a steep challenge as many fashion practitioners have failed to successfully communicate the relationship between fashion and bio-waste,” said Nancy Tilbury, MA Fashion course director at Kingston University.

“Our students rose to the challenge and produced excellent work that has been sought after by musical artists and the fashion press.”

Designers have made progress in recent years in bringing organic cotton and recycled materials to the high street, but whether orange peel dresses will be worn in the future remains to be seen.