A Yarn For Nature

September, 2016
Dina Watson

Fashion designers have long been inspired by natural landscapes and runway collections have revealed this inspiration with the use of billowy fabrics embossed with floral arrangements.  Recently, designers have found another outlet with floral embroidery - that would make a 60’s flower child blush with envy - that extends this garden theme to denim gear; shoes and trench coats. 

Old World vs New World

Much of this featured embroidery has its roots in Chinese and Indian artistry and it’s interesting to see the fashion world turn towards old world cultures to revive something that has perhaps sadly been lost with industrialization.  It’s almost as if modernism has robbed us of our ability to be as connected to nature as we used to and these wearable items are trying to evoke that romantic yearning.  While some designers use prints and embellishments to evoke a connection with an agricultural past, other designers take it a step further and integrate their vision with sustainability and respect for nature.

While ethics and fashion have had a tumultuous history you can see some effort towards environmental consciousness and sustainability. From big fashion houses like Prada (their factory in Florence is solar powered) and Gucci to smaller fashion designers, there are some in the fashion industry that are trying to make their label more green conscious. 

Sustainability and Fabric

Some make an earnest effort not only to be sustainable but use craftsmen/women from old world cultures and involve them in the whole process from production to profit.  The IOU project is an example of this amalgamation of old and new skills coming together to make a difference and is inspired by an unlikely fashion icon – Mahatma Gandhi.  This label takes pride in being able to tell a customer the journey of an item from weaver to manufacturer (i.e. India-Portugal) thus creating the organic connection between product and people.  Loomstate is another urban label that promotes the vision “that whole clothing supply chains from cotton farm to fashion house can support sustainable clothing production”.

The NY Times recently did a moving piece about Han Shan, a man who became disillusioned with China’s urban pursuit and went on a journey to rediscover himself and found his happiness amongst forests, trees and flowers.  His days are now spent collecting red and blue wild flowers, which allow him to practice his family’s textile dyeing tradition and a livelihood selling the clothes he dyes.

Our connection to nature is undying and whether we satisfy that bond through creative representation or giving back through sustainable practices, it is clear that we all can make a fashionable choice to protect that which inspires us.


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