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Ecological Fabrics at Sao Paulo Fashion Week
Sarah Rich, 28 Jan 07

I'm writing from Brazil, where I've been attending Sao Paulo Fashion Week. Why on earth, you ask, did I accrue a huge carbon debt to attend a fashion circus in the southern hemisphere? Because the theme of the event this year (which is the largest fashion week in South America) guessed it: sustainability, and I was invited to give a talk on sustainability as it pertains to design, technology, fashion and the like. Although my travel has not [yet] been offset, the whole event is carbon neutral and they are doing a number of interesting things to both run the shows sustainably and teach attendees about environmental responsibility and their own personal impact.

I'm currently pursuing translation on some of the details of the carbon neutrality agenda, and I have yet to go take the "carbon quiz" which appears on the screens of an entire computer bank in the central atrium of the venue -- more on that to come. Meanwhile, one of the highlights that requires no translation is a two-part exhibition on sustainable textiles, presented by an organization called e-fabrics, which promotes the production and use of sustainable textiles for the apparel industry. They have developed a certification label that can be earned by textile companies whose practices abide by the e-fabrics criteria, which address sustainability of materials, environmental impact of the production process, respect for cultural diversity and traditions, quality of design and commercial viability.

The e-fabrics exhibition brings a museum quality to the venue. Downstairs they're displaying samples of ecological (and primarily local or regional) textiles gallery-style in illuminated modular wall units with bi-lingual placards explaining the story behind each sample. Then upstairs, you can view the textiles in action: each of the week's fashion designers was asked to create a one-of-a-kind garment using 100% sustainable materials, and the collection -- a fantastic and diverse array of costumes -- outfits a small army of mannequins suspended from the ceiling around the circumference of the hall. Beneath each mannequin, an artist's statement provides information about the materials and inspiration for the piece.

Below are images from the exhibition with some explanation. I was particularly intrigued by a few of the materials which I've rarely seen in sustainable apparel elsewhere, including "leather" from fish skin (it doesn't stink!), Amazonian rubber for clothing rather than shoe soles, and a treated cotton that takes on the quality of leather but involves no animal products.

e-fabrics is a collaborative endeavor between a non-profit advocacy and networking organization called e-brigade and the Brazilian design label, Osklen, who is one of the designers on the runway this week. Incidentally, before coming down here, I was looking at the websites for all of the designers who would be showing, and without even knowing anything about Osklen's environmental principles, I found their clothing to be the most attractive of the whole line-up. Of course, since it's crucial that green-minded apparel designers appeal to their customer for style as much as (or even more than) for their ideals, it was even better to discover that Osklen was behind e-fabrics. Beauty and brains...

If you speak Portuguese, you can see some more coverage from the show at the Sao Paulo Fashion Week blog.



The dress above is made from 100% recycled PET plastic. The resulting fabric is a clean, white, thick material with a quilted look.


The dress above is made with waste from the paper industry. Text in the image below describes it in more detail:




The above dresses are made with leather from fish skins. More details in image below:




Both of the above are made with 100% recycled PET in a manner that comes out like low-texture polar fleece.




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Seems great. I'd love to hear follow-up about how it went, some of the texts, and whether their facts "check out."

Posted by: fafa on 28 Jan 07

The garments are down-right beautiful. Do you know if Material Connexion or any other materials libraries/supplies from the U.S. are attending? We're eager to get our hands on such materials but have no interest in shipping them from other hemispheres.

Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 28 Jan 07

Hello Sarah, This is Carol from Brazil. I´m here in the press-room taking notes for our blog (Motoaporter). Well, I want you to know that we (me and my partner Daniella, that i told you) are going to translate every "green-notes" for you. OK?
And be confortable to write or phone us at any time. Anything we can help you...
Our website is going to be on line in english soon. I´ll let you know.
A big kiss and see you soon.


Posted by: Carolina Piccin Silberberg on 29 Jan 07

PARTY ROCK ON! I am so jealous. I've heard about SO many great things going on down there and wish I could have made it down for this. With Curitiba and all I'm not surprised that Sao Paolo is all over sustainable fashion. Looking forward to more entries and your final report. YOU GO GIRL! San Seano

Posted by: Sustainable Sean on 29 Jan 07



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