Chanel Eco Couture: inspirational or exclusive?

By Lindsay Parker

ChanelSS16{ Chanel – SS2016 ~ image source }

Two weeks ago, fashion blogs and magazines covering the couture collections were celebrating the “eco-couture” displayed on the Chanel runway.

Whilst reading the coverage of the show, I couldn’t help but recall a discussion in one of our recent seminars about globalisation and ethical fashion. One of the points for discussion was the availability of information for consumers regarding exactly where not only the garments are made but also the fabric and components that make up the clothes we wear each day – and how difficult this can make being a conscious consumer when it comes to fashion. The Chanel collection featured materials and components fashioned from a wide range of sustainable materials, a fact that we are made aware of through the surrounding publicity regarding Lagerfeld’s decision to “Go Green”.

A couture garment is seen by many as a collector’s piece and an investment; therefore great care would be taken to ensure the quality of each element, each stitch and material used. The finished piece cannot be further away from the mass produced fast fashion which is the cause of so much waste and inequality within the industry. Considering this collection in terms of what this could mean for the possibility of a more sustainable fashion future, it occurs to me that it only further emphasises the differences between fast fashion and high fashion. Whilst (to borrow a term from Bourdieu) the consecration of “eco-fashion” by established designers such as Lagerfeld can only be a positive in terms of raising awareness, the complete unavailability of these designs to the majority could serve to reinforce the opinion held by many that ethical fashion is too expensive and at times difficult to track down.

It will be interesting to see if the use of recyclable and sustainable materials is a trend which “trickles down” and is taken on by the high street in a more inclusive and available form.

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