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Green Germany

Green Germany

No longer a baggy array of hemp and hessian, ethical fashion is going from strength to strength, with innovations in recycling, production and consuming. From leasable jeans to plantable shoes, little wonder that exhibition space at Berlin’s Ethical Fashion trade show was snapped up in record time.

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As consumers demand more transparency and responsibility from retailers, small ethical brands are gaining popularity, offering a greener alternative to the shady policies of Big Business. In fact, large companies such as H&M and Marks & Spencer are now hot-footing after smaller green competitors, offering recycling services for unwanted clothes in an attempt to upscale their ethics. As Josephine Moulds recently noted in The Guardian, “fashion retailers are increasingly aware that they must overhaul their business models to adapt to a world of resource scarcity.”

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Germany, always at the forefront of green issues,  takes its eco-fashion seriously. The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin  – and its twin show, Greenshowroom  – was opened on 19 January by Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Gerd Müller, to signal the start of Berlin Fashion Week 2015.

Around 120 international eco-labels (30 of them vegan) from 19 countries showcased their 2015/16 collections at EFSB, with the exhibition organisers promising everything from high fashion to casual and streetwear for women, men and children. Talks, workshops and fashion shows – including one from organic label Lana’s new vegan range designed by actress Marion Kracht  – were also on the schedule.

959_bag_made_from_old_seatbelts
959 bag made from old seatbelts

There was an Ethical Down Showcase (the punningly titled, ‘Don’t let me down’), examining the controversial issue of using feathers for insulation and what alternatives are on offer. Outfits from Swedish label Fjällräven were shown, as ‘best practice’ examples of a fully-monitored down-feather supply chain.

Other eco-innovators who put in an appearance included Italian vegan re-design brand 959 who make bags and accessories from old seatbelts; new Norwegian label L-L-B, which focuses on ‘upcycling and refashioning’; the Netherlands’ MUD Jeans, with their innovative, if grammatically problematic, ‘lease-a-jeans’ business model (where you can return the jeans for recycling and be sent a new pair); and, also from Holland, OAT, makers of the world’s first biodegradable shoe, “Wear them down, plant them in the ground and have flowers bloom from your old sneakers!”

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Eco-fashion from L-L-B (left) and MUD Jeans (right)

And for anyone longing for the good old hemp days, fear not! Vegan German brand Hempage do great colourful casualwear accredited by the European Industrial Hemp Association.

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