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Eco-Fashion: Going Green at The Museum at FIT

02
Apr '10
The Museum at FIT presents Eco-Fashion: Going Green, an exhibition exploring fashion's relationship with the environment. “Eco-fashion” refers to the work of designers who use, produce, and/or promote sustainable, ethical, and environmentally-conscious products. Although eco-fashion is one of contemporary fashion's most compelling practices, fashion and the environment have had a longstanding, multifaceted, and complex connection rarely explored.

Featuring more than 100 garments, accessories, and textiles from the mid-18th century to the present, Eco-Fashion: Going Green will examine positive and negative environmental practices over the past two centuries, providing historical context for today's eco-fashion movement. The exhibition will emphasize how each stage of fashion production—from fiber to finished garment—has environmental consequences. The extensive range of contemporary examples in the exhibition will showcase the commitment of both designers and consumers to meet these environmental challenges.

Eco-Fashion: Going Green will begin with some of the finest examples of sustainable fashion by current, cutting-edge labels, including Edun, Bodkin, FIN, and NOIR. The approaches these brands take to social and environmental issues will act as lenses through which the exhibition will view the historical garments and their various effects on the environment.

The earliest object on display will be a silk brocade gown, circa 1760. Eighteenth-century silk was painstakingly woven on hand looms, making it costly, complex to manufacture, and cherished. Since garments with lasting value are integral to today's eco-fashion movement, this gown will act as a chronological starting point for the exhibition.

The garments and objects in Eco-Fashion: Going Green will reflect at least one of six major themes:

• the repurposing and recycling of materials
• material origins
• textile dyeing and production
• quality of craftsmanship
• labor practices
• the treatment of animals

The repurposing and recycling of textiles is sometimes considered the most innovative and responsible mode of eco-fashion. Historically, this concept has taken a number of forms. A dress circa 1840 was remade from an exquisite yellow, striped silk from the previous century. Highlighting the emphasis on recycling in the 1990s will be a Xuly-Bët dress incorporating worn sweaters and pantyhose.

Practices associated with the growth and manufacture of fibers have some of fashion's most environmentally destructive consequences. Although cotton is often viewed as a “natural” fiber, its production has often been especially damaging. The display of two dresses circa 1820 will emphasize that cotton growing during this time drained soil of nutrients and depleted water supplies environmental concerns magnified by the introduction of dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the 20th century. Today, organic cotton is used to make everything from basic T-shirts to a dramatic, one-of-a-kind evening gown by the influential eco-label Edun.


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