Fashion Goes Green
Bay Area designers choose organic fabric for newest line

Walking through the streets of San Francisco can feel like walking down a catwalk. Both tourists and locals act as fashion models strutting down the avenues with yesterday and today’s trendiest clothing. Venture over to certain districts and the possibilities are virtually endless - $600 fancy dresses hang in storefronts next to tie-dyed T-shirts.

Historically hemp and organic clothing has been reserved for the hippies of the world, typically more functional then fashionable. Recently many designers have found ways of incorporating this resource into more modernized hip clothing by focusing on sustainability, which focuses on social, economical, institutional and environmental aspects of human society, as well as the non-human environment.

The idea of sustainability is to try and provide the best result for both human and natural environments not only now but into the future.

Bay Area designers Loïc Massias and Gypsy Rader were trying to find a niche in the industry. They were already into organic foods and being eco-friendly when they started working with eco-fibers into their men’s clothing line.

Recently, the duo switched their focus from working on their menswear line to working on a private label for Whole Foods Market. The market, in collaboration with the designers, is focused on making organic clothing accessible.

“All of the clothing was made out of recycled polar fleece and we had scarves and hats made from pvc plastic,” said Rader, 28.

Gypsy and Loïc’s Fall 2006 collection was made entirely of organic fibers and featured 12 different items making its debut in stores. The line included baby essentials and woman’s hooded sweatshirts, all of which sold-out.

“We need to protect our environment, as this seems like the most logical impact we can make,” said Massias.

In recent years there has been a rising trend of social-responsibility among consumers. Any product that claims to carry societal dividends is a hot commodity.
With the sales of environmental cars up and Al Gore’s summer blockbuster An Inconvenient Truth the American consumer culture is starting to change its buying habits.

The United States is the second largest cotton producer in the world after China, though cotton is native to Southern Africa and South America, according to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a non-profit organization focused on health justice and sustainability.

Consumers may be getting tricked into believing that cotton is a natural fiber. In today’s agriculture industry, the production of farming cotton takes a large toll on the environment because of its use of pesticides insecticides and fungicides.

Though these products are partly responsible for the agriculture productivity of the 20th century they are also seen as products that carry great harm.

According to the OCA, pesticides not only disrupt the balance of nature in the field, but also harm people who come in contact with them. In California, five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are cancer-causing chemicals (cyanazine, dicofol, naled, propargite and trifluralin).

Whole Foods has very strict standards when it comes to using organic cotton, explain Massias and Rader. For production all the cotton must be grown, milled and sewn in the U.S. Currently the company is using cotton from a couple of fabric mills on the East Coast and because hemp cannot be legally grown in the U.S. they are getting it from China, were it can be grown and milled.

“We do everything together, except for the sewing and dying which is done in both San Francisco and Sacramento,” said Massias.

The duo is now working on their Spring 2008 line, which will also feature men’s clothing alongside the women’s and baby items. While the mention of organic clothing might bring images of loose “hippie” attire to mind Gypsy and Loïc create clothes that are more fitted and trendy.

The line will consist of 23 items including hooded sweatshirts and vests for both men and women, a hat made of hemp and baby essentials like one pieces. Gypsy and Loïc will be available in 26 stores around the Bay Area and the rest of California as well as in Oregon and Seattle.

“We do this because it is better for the earth and better for the workers,” said Rader. “Being in the fashion industry, I see all these things I don’t like, and now I feel like we are doing something good to the industry.”



xxx | staff photographer





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