Lexus And The Eco-Fashionistas

Luxury and eco-consciousness don’t have to exist at polar opposites. Lexus funds a fashion competition encouraging young designers to think about using sustainable and recyclable goods.

By Kim Phipps

In the not so distant past, the eco-friendly crowd and the fashionistas weren’t exactly seen at the same parties. If you were of the green persuasion, your fashion choices might include hemp-hued accessories and reusable grocery bags. Your label mania didn’t go much further than the Please Recycle! arrows that adorned your favorite organic cotton tee. And cars? Well, that would be a tiny, bare bones electric or hybrid type thing, or maybe one of those retro-fitted boxy diesels that can run on yesterday’s french fry oil.

The fashion crowd just couldn’t be bothered. What self-respecting supermodel could be expected to walk all the way to the curb in those Jimmy Choos to just to toss an empty $200 champagne bottle into the recycle bin? “Locally grown” wasn’t the tag fashion slaves were hoping to see in the latest new Hermes Birkin bag. And the Miranda Priestlys of the world had eager young interns to make sure they were never photographed within 100 feet of a low emissions vehicle.

Fashion’s Next Generation

But those days are changing, thanks to innovative minds at companies like Lexus, and young, forward thinking designers like Marcia Patmos , John Bartlett, Johnson Hartig. In the midst of fashion week, Lexus and the Council of Fashion Designers of America unveiled the winners of the Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge, a competition among fashion designers to produce couture that is on the cutting edge of fashion while implementing sustainable production standards. The entries were judged by fashion’s elite from instructors at Parsons The New School for Design and Marie Claire. The winners were each awarded $25,000 to develop a collection. Lexus chose to fund the competition because of its commitment to eco-consiousness. The luxury car marque has four hybrid vehicles in its 2012 lineup.

This year’s hood ornament could be next years’s statement jewelry!

But what does eco-conscious fashion mean, exactly? Hint: it’s not all green. Far from just paying well-glossed-lip-service to earth friendliness, a minimum 25 percent of the collection had to be produced in an environmentally friendly manner. Many of the competition proposals included components such as recycled plastic, reclaimed wood, minimal packaging, and non-chemically treated fabrics, such as vegetable-tanned leather, and of course animal-friendly faux fur.

“Seeing the winning collections come to life on the runway is truly a thrill for us at Lexus,” says Brian Smith, vice president of marketing at Lexus. “Lexus is encouraging sustainable lifestyles that don’t sacrifice style or luxury. We’re proud to support these industry thought-leaders as they share our passion for accelerating change in their respective field.”

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