The Urban Renewal line in Urban Outfitters’ more than 20-year-old collection of vintage clothing and accessories made from recycled fabrics is just one example of how the fashion industry is embracing the green economy. Another is the use of recycled plastics by manufacturers from Patagonia to Nike to create everything from hard-wearing school uniforms to fleeces and football kit. And every season brings additional claims of sustainability and fair-trading; designer Katherine Hamnett only uses environmentally sustainable natural fabrics, while major retail chains such as Marks & Spencer and brands including Adidas are making commitments to reduce their supply-chain footprints.
The American designer Eliza Starbuck, finalist in the Green Fashion Competition during Amsterdam Fashion Week, partnered with Urban Outfitters in Spring 2011 to produce lines that decrease the number of different clothes needed in the average wardrobe – and that have long-term wearability. Starbuck also applies a zero-waste cutting technique – pieces of a pattern fit like a jigsaw puzzle, which reduces fabric waste by around 15 per cent. Additionally, Starbuck doesn’t use plastic buttons in her designs, replacing them with renewable natural products including corozo nuts.