by Joshua Katcher
featured on HintMag.com
Tevas with socks. Cargo Pants. Slogan tees. Let’s face it, people who care about ecosystems, animals, and worker’s rights aren’t typically celebrated for their sartorial poise. Likewise, most designers who care about form, function, and aesthetics aren’t typically known for their environmental wisdom or empathy; Fur coats, leather everything, toxic cotton, sweatshops.
There is new breed of designer, though, not so easily written off, who can turn old televisions into jaw-dropping shoes, who foster relationships with organic cotton farmers in developing countries, who invest in research and development of warm, biodegradable, recycled, cruelty-free textiles, whose aesthetic vision is not hampered by the challenges of navigating ethical dilemmas, and who – armed with tencel, lenpur, hemp, recycled fabrics, faux-fur, soda-bottle ultrasuede, and organics – aren’t afraid of challenging the tragic credo set by heritage brands. In a culture where the iconography of the rebel is tied up in so many embarrassingly common and mainstream social, environmental and ethical muddles, these true iconoclasts are redefining cool, and reinvigorating the lost meaning of dressing like a dissident.
1. Vaute Couture. Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart is the prefect example of a designer who dreamed big. Her line went from a fantasy (gorgeous, eco, vegan winter coats that can handle Chicago in February) to reality. The line looks as amazing as it is warm and ethical; 100% Cruelty-free, sustainable, and fair-labor. Vaute Couture took over 8 months of fabric research and development and launched just last year, but has already garnered a host of celeb fanatics from Emily Deschanel, to Alicia Silverstone, and Ginnifer Goodwin. The men’s line launches August 2010. vautecouture.com