Eco-fashion designers are starting to think beyond organic, Fair Trade, and sweatshop-free: Instead of just not harming the world, clothes now need to save it. There’s a vogue for duds that do double duty, not only covering your junk but also checking the air quality and hand-feeding the wildlife. Top designers are going tree-huggy for Runway to Green (i.e. Eco-Fashion Week) this March; we’d tune in just in the hopes of seeing Karl Lagerfeld in Birkenstocks, but we’ll also be on the lookout for this sort of TOTALLY RELEVANT TO THE REAL WORLD fashion inspiration.
Because Diesel jeans are so last century: It’s not enough anymore that your pants are made out of organic unbleached cotton by unionized workers making a living wage. Now they also need to run on solar power. (Gas-powered pants are such energy hogs.) These solar pants cost $1,000, look like cargo-pajamas, and charge your gadgets while you carry them around. At least you’ll always have enough juice to text your friends that you look like a douchelord.
If you could breathe out, you would breathe easier: Red carpet-style gowns aren’t usually designed for comfort, but if I had to appear at a Hollywood event, I’d want a dress that cuts through the L.A. smog. If you can’t eat, you might as well be able to breathe. “Herself” is made of the extremely uncomfortable-sounding (and thus gown-appropriate) concrete cloth, and is supposed to purify the air around it. As you might guess from the pretentious name, this is more of an art project than a burgeoning label, but Ecouterre says that “the science behind it could conceivably produce garments that improve respiratory health.”
Even grosser than Hypercolor: Shirts from the “Warning Signs” line, a project of N.Y.U. students Nien Lam and Sue Ngo, have organ-shaped decorations that sprout blue veins in the presence of carbon monoxide. There are only two designs right now, heart and lungs — no dead birds or coughing babies — but the students report that they’re already making smokers nervous, in much the same way that Hypercolor shirts affected the chronically sweaty. They also say an alcohol-detecting shirt with a light-up liver is next. We’re waiting on the brain-patterned shirt that detects harmful levels of the internet.
The fashion hive mind: If you’re worried about the fate of the bees, why not suckle them from your armpit? Artist Karen Ingham’s “pollinator frocks” are treated with a solution that mimics nectar, attracting bees or butterflies. They’re perfect for folks who want to be a living Gabriel Garcia Marquez character, or just want an easier way to feed bees than walking around drenched in simple syrup.