- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eco-friendly style trends are sprouting up in the form of quirky accessories, nature-inspired jewelry and organically made wardrobe basics that leave a light carbon footprint on Mother Earth and your wallet.

Summer Rayne Oakes, a model and author of “Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty,” says that as issues such as climate change have become household concerns, the retail industry has adjusted to the pro-Earth zeitgeist.

Unlike recent eco-fashion lines, such as the one designed by U2 frontman Bono and sold exclusively at pricey department stores, Ms. Oakes says the public will see “everybody being brought into the movement, and not just celebrities who can afford it.”

Just last week, Ms. Oakes launched her first shoe line for Payless ShoeSource, called Zoe&Zac, which features recycled rubber, water-based glues and hemp. She says most of her shoes, such as the lavender ballet flats with a matching bow, retail for less than $30.

Ms. Oakes attributes the lower price points for today’s environmentally friendly clothing and accessories to simple economic principles.

“The eco-fashion movement started with independent designers with very little resources and little demand for organic textiles. Now there is more demand than supply for things like organic cotton,” she says.

“We’re seeing eco-friendly fashions in many new colors and styles due to a growth in fabrication and dying techniques. What we used to consider ‘organic’ and boring has now become fashion-forward,” says fashion expert and stylist Lilliana Vazquez.

Ms. Vazquez cites large corporations such as Banana Republic and smaller design houses including Gypsy 05 as being exceptional in “manufacturing multiple products in their main collections that feature organic fabrics and natural dyes. Some, like Gypsy 05, are even going as far as manufacturing their collections in a solar-powered factory.”

Banana Republic’s maxidress and Gypsy 05’s boho-inspired tie-dye print are two of her favorite looks for the season.

“Both of these items feature an eco-friendly, lightweight jersey that’s perfect for the summer,” she says.

Echoing the “strong, modern, bohemian trend,” Roshanne Aghevli, the fashion designer behind the Sworn Virgins line, says “long dresses, natural colors and novelty tie-dyed looks” will be all the rage because of their earthy, Woodstock appeal.

She also expects natural elements such as wood to be featured prominently in accessories this summer and fall.

Of course, no green fashionista’s look is complete without the requisite eco-handbag. Fashion designer Jennifer Baum Lagdameo has teamed with Trees for the Future, a local organization that helps restore deforested areas. For each of Ms. Lagdameo’s eco-friendly cork “Coco” clutch bags sold, 10 trees are planted in the Philippines. The bag sells for less than $100.

She explains that we should expect to see “more fashion companies partnering their pro-Earth collections with green causes.”

Dragon Alliance is introducing the E.C.O. line - Environmentally Conscious Optics - the first sunglasses made from 100 percent renewable materials.

“The silhouette of the frame is very laid-back, retro and on-point. Add in Rob Machado’s name and design influence behind it as well as the E.C.O. initiative, and you can’t go wrong,” says Dragon Alliance’s product-line manager, Hillary Balch.

For its part, Radley London has a new line of eco-friendly umbrellas with fun colors and bold patterns all made from recycled materials. The umbrellas are available for less than $60 and can be purchased at Lord & Taylor.

Last but not least, the eco movement is becoming a girl’s best friend thanks to jewelry designers such as Jennifer Dawes, whose label, Dawes Design is “entirely green.” Ms. Dawes’ rings, necklaces and earrings are made from recycled gold and “responsibly mined stones” such as sapphires, diamonds and topaz.

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