Becoming an Eco-Friendly Designer

How does one become an eco-designer? I’m sure that for some people, this is easy. You have a passion for the earth and for fashion so you find ways to create fashion without harming the earth. You vow never again to set foot in a Fabricville or a big fabric wholesaler. You declare them horrible and wasteful. You stick to your guns and stay away. For me, the transition has not been so easy. In fact, I expect to be in transition for a good while yet.

I have always been interested in the idea of recycling clothing. One of my favourite places to shop in college was my church’s basement. Even in high school, I would take something from my mom’s closet and modernize it. More lately, the owner of the Boutique de Mariage Punta Chiara acquired a large number of outdated sample wedding gowns and asked if I wanted to recycle them. I jumped at the chance and brought them to my workshop, where they wait patiently for me to finally transform them.

I’ve long been bothered by the waste created by my own business of custom dress design. For every dress I make, I have at least a metre of excess fabric left over. I can never bear to part with it, so it just piles up. If I have this much fabric in my workshop, imagine how much fabric big companies have! Thankfully, some companies are starting to donate or sell off their remnants so that people like me can use it. I’ve started designing dresses made from fabric remnants for Boutique La Gaillarde. Now that I have ventured into the world of eco-fashion, I would love to say that I am 100% earth-friendly in my design practices, but sadly I am not. I work from home while I raise my kids so I have a limited number of hours in which to make my income. I’m not yet in a position to refuse those who would like a brand new dress made from brand new materials even if they want (gasp!) China-made and fossil fuel-shipped polyester.

What I’m realizing is that working for yourself AND the earth is hard work and I applaud anyone who does it 100%. I, on the other hand, am not quite there yet. For now, I will encourage brides to use fabric remnants and organic fabrics when they order one of my semi-custom dresses. I will suggest that they let me redesign their mother’s gown for them. I will keep making more casual recycled dresses for boutiques like La Gaillarde. I hope that the small steps that I am taking on my road to eco-friendliness will help and that one day, I will get only requests for earth-friendly fashion.