The Green Team: Fashion's New Sustainable Designers

Sustainable designers like Patrick McDowell, Ka Wa Key, Bleu Chose, A.BCH and more are changing old ways and carving a sustainable future.

By Kaley Roshitsh on October 2, 2019

Fashion is preparing for a more sustainable future, and the recent runway shows, trade exhibitions and consumer conversations are capturing the transition in real-time.

The latest collections in Paris revealed “oeat earthy sobriety,” as in the case with Dior and climate-themed end-of-days oil spills at Marine Serre, while in Milan, “A New Awareness” spot- lighted sustainability in a multiday exhibition during fashion week. And the latest edition of the White Milano trade show confirmed sustainable themes.

The fashion industry is showing strides, and many of those steps are being taken by still-nascent sustainable labels, building a circular future from the ground up.

Cutting down on waste and cutting up previous collections, many designers are exploring upcycling and repurposing in their collections, as is the case with Patrick McDowell, Bleu Chose and Maggie Marilyn. Meanwhile, labels such as A.BCH are leading with thoughtful design principles hoping to later implement a system for garment recovery and recycling. Hoping to reduce their carbon footprints, young brands are partnering with organizations such as One Tree Planted in reforestation efforts, as Shopyte has done.

While the long-heralded fashion capitals are putting greater emphasis on sustainable fashion, there are entire shows dedicated to sustainability. Helsinki Fashion Week is one that aims to buoy interest.

Helsinki Fashion Week Rising in the Ranks

At Helsinki Fashion Week, designers Patrick McDowell, Young n Sang, Ka Wa Key, Bleu Chose, A.BCH, Burlesque Tsunami, Anna Ruohonen and many others premiered their latest collections.

“I think the biggest challenges right now to a more sustainable future is a lack of action and greenwashing,” said Evelyn Mora, consultant and founder of Helsinki Fashion Week, who also cites initial risk and investment as obstacles for greater action.

Mora, in between speaking on panels and organizing the upcoming symposiums for HFW, anticipates the upcoming Circular Fashion Summit in Paris, along with the publishing of her first book, “The Trouble Maker,” next year, which will detail her trail-blazing sustainability efforts.

Like many with an appetite for sustainable fashion, Mora has her eyes peeled for fashion weeks to better showcase sustainable brands — and not just on the runway — she calls for deep dives into production processes to see what makes them truly “green.”

Unravelau: One Step at a Time

Dutch sustainable clothing brand Unravelau also exclusively uses organic and recycled materials. Founded in 2017 by Laura Meijering, the brand is based in Utrecht, Netherlands.

“We try to generate the least possible waste when creating a garment by using zero-waste patterns and reusing the waste we do generate [like threads] in other garments. Even the tags on the garments are made of recycled paper and printed with environmentally friendly ink,” Meijering told WWD.

Photo by Liam Doan