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Designers Look To Take Glamour Out Of Green Fashion

Environmentally-friendly fashion has already made its mark on the runway and with high-end designers, but a new campaign, called Be EcoChic, is setting out to prove that green is still the new black.

"I think environmentally-friendly fashion should not be considered a trend at all; it should be a way of life," says Fern Mallis, senior vice president of IMG Fashion and a member of the Be EcoChic Advisory Committee. "Trends come and go and pass and I don't think this is one that can afford to do that."

To kick off New York Fashion Week, environmentally-conscious designers and the Sierra Club launched the Be EcoChic campaign with a runway show Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History. The campaign seeks to make eco-friendly fashion more attainable and raise the demand for green products by influencing public opinion through fashion.

"The fashion industry garners a lot of attention and visibility, and if we can keep the designers out there on the forefront and save the planet and still look fabulous at the same time, that's the goal," says Mallis.

Thursday's fashion show featured clothing made with environmentally-friendly fabrics by designers such as DKNY, Carmen Marc Valvo and Thread Social. Celebrities including model-turned-actress Lauren Hutton, supermodel Alek Wek, actress Dominique Swain and Law & Order: SVU's Tamara Tunie donned the eco-friendly styles on the runway.

"I try to use all natural products, for example silks and wools," says evening wear designer Carmen Marc Valvo. "I tend to stay away from any polyester or man-made fabrics." Valvo says he also uses low-impact dye materials in the printing process.

Being eco-fashionable, however, does not mean buying pricey designer clothing deemed "green," according to those organizing the Be EcoChic campaign. Instead of buying new clothes, consumers can instead buy vintage clothes or even swap clothes with friends.

So how can the fashion industry and organizations like Be EcoChic make the green dream a reality? Susan Scafidi, who created the fashion law program at Fordham Law School, says it’s a matter of educating the consumer and defining “green.”

“Green fashion has entered into mainstream consumer consciousness and is likely to stay awhile -- if the consumer can figure out what it means in practice,” says Susan Scafidi. “Shades of green can include natural, renewable fibers rather than petroleum-based polyester, cruelty-free materials, non-toxic manufacturing processes, local production, or any number of other things. Until there are clear standards, even consumers convinced that green is the new black won't find it easy being green.”

For advice on being fashionably green, the Be EcoChic campaign offers tips on its website, BeEcoChic.com.