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What is eco-fashion?

Eco-fashion is about making clothes that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry. Eco-fashion clothes: are made using organic raw materials, such as cotton grown without pesticides and silk made by worms fed on organic trees dont involve the use of harmful chemicals and bleaches to colour fabrics are often made from recycled and reused textiles. High-quality garments can be made from second-hand clothes and even recycled plastic bottles are made to last, so that people keep them for longer come from fair trade - the people who make them are paid a fair price and have decent working conditions. With the eco-fashion industry still in its infancy, the main responsibility at the moment lies with clothes manufacturers and fashion designers, who need to start using sustainable materials and processes.

Setting up Earth A'Wear Earth AWear was the first shop in Copenhagen, Denmark, to stock only eco-fashion clothing. Nick Paxevanos, the man behind the company, explains the story behind the store.

Earth AWear was inspired by the birth of my son. I was already environmentally conscious, but his arrival prompted me to become more active. The lack of availability of eco-clothing nudged me in that direction.

My aim was to set up Denmarks first fashionable organic clothing shop for children and adults. My key objectives were to increase awareness of the environmental hazards of the textile industry, and to provide people with an alternative.

I linked up with Anja Christiansen, an expert in organic textiles, and we worked out details such as finance, location and criteria for the clothing we stocked. Anja was in charge of the creative side, while I was in charge of research and development. We worked together on marketing and the day-to-day running of the business.

The first problem we encountered was lack of response from the media, which we had hoped would promote us. Instead we applied to the Danish government for money from a fund that supports environmental businesses. We used the grant we were given to promote ourselves and our message, and gradually built up regular customers.

Example Eco-Fashion

Pineapple Fiber. It is extracted from the pineapple leaves by hand scraping, decortications or retting. Decortications uses a motorized machine with blades to scrape off the pulp in order to separate the fiber. In retting, the leaves are immersed in water for softening the plant gums. They are then dried in the open air, the fibers are waxed to remove any entanglements and then they are knotted and bind into yarns for weavinginto fabric. The fibers are hand spun into ivory-white colour and naturally glossy fabric.Pineapple fabric is lightweight, soft, shinning, transparent and a little stiff fabric used for making clothes having elegant looks.

Milk Protein Fiber: These fibers are used to make yet another healthy and eco- friendly yarn- the milk yarn. Milk is dewatered, i.e. all the water content is taken out from it and then skimmed. With the help of bio-engineering technique, a protein spinning fluid is made. Wet spinning process converts this fluid into high-grade textile fiber. The skin friendly milk yarn goes to make glossy and luxurious fabrics similar in appearance to silk fabrics that have antibacterial and antifungal properties too. Their hygroscopic character makes them one of the finest moisture management fabrics. They can be blended with a number of fibers to get many characteristics- blend them with bamboo to get cool fiber and with wool fiber to have a thermal protective fiber.

Bamboo Fiber: The bamboo fiber is obtained from the pulp of bamboo plants. Bamboo fiber is a regenerated cellulose fiber. However, bamboo fiber is eco- friendly only when it is extracted with mechanical process. It's chemical processing is not environmental friendly.

When mechanically processed, the crushed bamboo is treated with biological enzymes which break it into a mushy mass after which individual fibers are combed out. Organic bamboo fabric is left unbleached by the manufacturers. Bamboo fibers make smooth, soft, antibacterial and luxurious fabric that have a very good absorption quality.

Banana Fiber: The banana fiber is extracted by hand stripping and decortication. Thus, it is 100% eco-friendly fiber. This fiber looks like bamboo fiber and ramie fiber. It is strong, shiny, lightweight and bio-degradable. It can even absorb moisture very efficiently. Banana fibers were used for making ropes and mats till recent past. With its many qualities getting popular, the fashion industry is also fast adopting this fiber for making various fashion clothing and home furnishings.