Organic fashion grows in popularity

(dpa) - Consumer concern about climate change has become a lifestyle choice especially among young trendsetters who have paved the way for ecological consciousness in fashion.

Organic fashion is no longer a market niche to satisfy green activists and the clothes also don't look like the ones those activists are known to wear. Today stylish, sustainably produced clothes are available off the rack. And large clothing-makers have begun offering items made from ecologically grown cotton.

Many of the green collections start with organic cotton, which is grown in biologically controlled fields free of pesticides, said professor Marie-Louise Klotz, dean of the textile and clothing technology at the advanced technical college Niederrhein in Krefeld, Germany.

Depending on the maker, garments are made either only from organic cotton or from fabric that is a portion of organic cotton.

"It's not about a short-term development for us, rather a mainstream trend," said Gerd Mueller-Thomkins, chief executive of the German fashion institute in Cologne. Following developments in the food industry, climate change is demanding a greater acceptance of alternative products, also in fashion. Many people have a sincere need to show their environmental consciousness.

Trend followers attribute the politically motivated fashion transition to the spread of the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability movement, whose followers have christened it LOHAS.

"Right now we are seeing a further development of the ecology culture," said Andreas Steinle, manager of the Future Institute think-tank in Hessen.

Admittedly this lifestyle includes inconsistencies. On one side there is consumers' need for stylish clothing and garments they enjoy wearing and on the other side there is their health consciousness.

The result is a modern style that wouldn't immediately be recognized as ecological or organic, which is not what the majority of consumers look for when they go shopping.

Ralf Strotmeier, spokesman for Berlin's fashion expo, said he also doesn't think much of scratchy capes made from hemp and humus-brown clothing.

"Successful organic clothing labels must have an outwardly modern look," he said, adding that the sustainability trend currently encompasses every area of the fashion industry, including children's clothing and high quality underwear.

To accommodate the trend the Berlin trade show has created a green area. At this year's show in January the number of exhibitors registered in the area was nearly double that of the year before.

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