Art / Society & Culture

Green Is Not The New Black (On Eco-Friendly Fashion)

By Dominique Drakeford

As a nation we lust for money, and then have foreplay with material goods–all to have sex with the idea that we’re in love with life.  Men marvel at silhouettes of the feminine that are outlined to resemble bottles of Coca Cola; while woman shamelessly drool over luxury handbags and finely draped garments.  Commodification of in-season apparel coupled with the misguided yearning for dead presidents create a platform of unfulfilled sexual combustion and blind-folded molestation.

This sexually artistic metaphor describes nothing other than our beloved fashion industry.

Our approach to life is supposed to have a strong commitment to value, morals and ethics, but whether you are aware of it or not–or even willing to admit it–our culture has an obsession with materiality measured by money.

The fashion industry, known as one of the most money-driven industries, has become an industrial production process that has encouraged and enabled values of fashion over-consumption and waste disposability. Its influence on society is immense, as well as its effect on the environment.

Our current agenda of “fast fashion” by retailers such as Forever 21, Zara, and H&M, leaves a massive ecological footprint. Each step of the clothing life cycle generates environmental and occupational hazards. It is responsible for enormous amounts of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.  And shockingly, this industry uses more water than any other apart from agriculture, and discharges massive quantities of toxic chemicals into the environment.

Every layer of the value chain system–from pesticide use on cotton to consumer wear and tear–plays a huge role in the filthiness of this system. This industry is also plagued by social ramifications, which include unfair wages and inexplicable working conditions. The Bangladesh tragedy is a recent example of this system and its affect on people, which was only brought to light due to exposure from the media.

Our approach to design, sourcing, manufacturing and consuming clothing has been this way because productivity supersedes humanity and profit surpasses well-being.

Having recently received a Masters degree in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Fashion from NYU, there are countless pages I could write on how the links between over-consumption and identity formation of communities can and should be reconfigured in charting a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.

My intent is pretty simple: aside from using fun sexual innuendos to lure you into a fashion industry bashing debate, I want to present a new spin on an old concept.  Of course in today’s trend-driven industry, we hear the term “____________ is the new black” to keep everyone abreast of what’s “hot” on the market.
So of course being immersed in the fashion world, I hear “green in the new black.”

As a result, sustainable and eco-friendly marketing tactics have sky rocketed, reflecting the craze. With green being the new black, everyone wants to try the latest face cream with “natural” ingredients and they want to wear that H&M dress made from organic cotton.  Marketers are using this opportunity to sell “eco-friendly” products, disguising the worthwhile and genuine concern.

Take a moment to think about what we are saying when we say that green in the new black. The essence of fashion fuels the momentum for change. Therefore, fashion and its marketing messages will adapt to the changes of industry preferences.

The idea of “green” and sustainable fashion needs not to be a trend or something that inevitably becomes so last season.  Calling it the new black only reaffirms its insignificance to people with a short-lived popularity.

We should strive to acquire a deeper understanding of our consumptive roles and what our future responsibilities should be to sustain our planet and our well-being. Green should become the new invisible as it will naturally become apart of the industries ethos in production and consumption, and our cultural identity.

At the end of the day we are consumers and we control their profits.  So lets pump our breaks on calling green the new black and simply call green the new invisible.

A note from the author: If reading this made you think that I was a tree hugging hippie who only wears Birkenstock sandals, tree bark cologne, and burlap sack dresses, think again! Because I’m environmentally and socially conscious DOES NOT mean that my sense of style goes out the window.  You should never sacrifice one for the other.  Please continue to do research because the future is in our hands.

Image: Drake Natural Instagram

Dominique Drakeford is a sustainable fashion mogul and community activist, She’s worked with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, has worked in Vintage Styling and spearheaded the first Annual Community Thrift Sale in Oakland. She completed her Masters Degree from NYU in Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Fashion and started her own Sustainable Fashion PR Company. By doing ethical marketing and event production, she intends to raise awareness of the social and environmental detriments within the fashion industry, encouraging collaboration and public engagement towards sustainability.


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