One of my biggest gripes about the ethical-fashion movement was the way everyone insisted that vintage and charity shops were the be-all and end-all of 'clean' fashion, because vintage is all about recycled clothes.
But vintage only looks good on the very young and old, on whom it can be characterised as eccentric style. Those between 30 and 60 cannot carry off eccentric because they walk the fine line that is middle age, where every fashion look is a potential minefield.
Fortunately, sustainable fashion is maturing beyond vintage. There are now proper, modern, fashion brands such as the award-winning, Untouched World -- available in 99B Rathgar and, from the autumn, in Passenger in Clifden, Co Galway which also stocks the fabulous and groovy Noir. Also check out People Tree, available in Arnotts and Bow Boutique in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin. Edun is currently being reworked by the inestimable Sharon Wauchob and all of fashion is eagerly anticipating its relaunch for spring/summer 2011.
On our pages today, I wanted to show you how a simple garment such as a summer dress can easily be produced with a lower carbon footprint, less chemical damage and all that stuff, and how by wearing it we can help to nurture and support our own indigenous labels.
Sophie Rieu is a Frenchwoman living in Ireland who has been a trailblazer in the Irish fashion industry, showing that designer fashion can be ethically and sustainably produced while being quality and chic, too. With a new salon in Greystones, Co Wicklow, Sophie sells in discerning boutiques nationwide.
Ireland has always been a nation that loves to support small local businesses and design. Many Irish designers are eschewing the ready-to-wear route in favour of what could be called a cottage-industry model -- what fashion publications would call demi-couture houses.
Aine McDonnell, an Irish designer of 20 years experience, set up Studio A five years ago. She produces several collections a year. Her customers visit, enjoy a one-to-one consultation, and order a garment made just for them entirely in Dublin, and which can cost less than a mass-produced garment from a department store or boutique.
Then there are talented newbies such as Bebhinn Flood, in The Loft, which is a great resource for young talent. Charlotte & Jane is an adorable new Irish label, stocked in boutiques around Ireland, designed and produced in Kinsale. I love its website, where you can 'create' the dress you want.
Photography by Gerry Mooney
Fashion edited by Constance Harris