Kristine Hansen
September 20, 2011

Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week

Photo courtesy of Hemera/Thinkstock

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During this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, a few eco-friendly designers proved that green can be fashionable.

There is more than one way to dress “green.” You can browse the racks at consignment shops for gently used clothing; host a clothing-swap party for your friends; or fire up the sewing machine and stitch your own skirts, tops and dresses while shrinking your carbon footprint in the process.

Or, you can splurge on garments crafted from recycled materials or pesticide-free fabrics.

This year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, where spring 2012 clothing and accessories hit the runways, included the designs of a few eco-friendly designers who proved that green is fashionable.

For instance, when 21-year-old Leanne Marshall, the winner of Project Runway Season 5, unveiled her spring 2012 collection, she demonstrated versatility in eco-friendly fabrics. Hemp silk, bamboo jersey and organic cotton were used to design gorgeous cocktail dresses and evening-wear gowns in three colors: white, a silvery-pale blue and bright mustard-yellow. (The Portland, Ore., native also designs wedding gowns at her design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Carlos Miele, a Brazil-based designer showing at Fashion Week this fall, has seeded partnerships with artisan cooperatives in his home country, creating a sustainable line of clothing that provides jobs to skilled people. Living in a country where rainforests face a constant threat of destruction, he also created a project with the Rainforest Foundation. Proceeds from a line of special T-shirts (sold in 2008) were used to help preserve Brazil’s rainforests and the indigenous people who reside in them.

Off the runway during the New York City Fashion Week parked a fleet of green-oriented cars and trucks, including Color Club’s Mobile Color Bar. The New York-based line offers nail polish that’s free of formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and paraben.

At Botkier, a handbag and accessories boutique in NoLita, visitors could create a just-for-me bag with owner Monica Botkier by applying Swarovski crystals, iron-ons, leather and studs to an organic-cotton tote. Proceeds from the bag sales went to Oxfam International, an international confederation of 15 organizations that strives to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice world-wide.

The National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers helps budding designers roll out green-oriented apparel lines by providing industry knowledge and networking opportunities. As members, the designers have access to similarly minded designers and want to make a global impact while following their dreams. Next month, the member-based organization will host its first conference, the Sustainable Fashion Summit, in New York City, no doubt planting the seed for more green-inspired lines to hit the runways at the next New York City Fashion Week (February 2012, for a look at Fall 2012 designs).

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