Eco-fashion is a term that is applied to clothing, footwear, and accessories that are either made from recycled products, are made with little to no animal products, or are made from cloth that comes from sustainable plant fibers. Eco-fashion may also apply to any of these kinds of items that are made with organic materials. It is a response on the part of the clothing and accessories industries to the green movement and the new focus on conservation and protection of the planet.
Recycled fashion may come in a number of different forms, but it is most commonly apparent in accessories. Since the 1990s, there have been companies that have made earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, belts, and even handbags out of recycled products. For jewelry, recycled glass and sea glass are commonly used as accents and pendants. It is also common for odd pieces of antique silver to be used in recycled jewelry. The handles, for example, are commonly reshaped into rings. There is also a company that makes handbags out of old license plates and belts out of recycled tires, studded with bottle caps.
Eco-fashion may also apply to clothing that is made without the use of animal products. This includes shoes that are made without leather and clothing that is made out of synthetic materials that look like leather. Fur alternatives are also common in this kind of fashion, especially in the linings of coats and gloves. For these reasons, eco-fashion is often the fashion of choice for vegetarians, vegans, and people who are concerned with animal cruelty. Sometimes shoes made with leather alternatives are called "vegetarian shoes."
Sustainable fabrics commonly include hemp, organically grown hemp, and organic cotton. The hemp crop requires less water than cotton and usually can be successfully grown without the use of pesticides. Organic cotton is grown without the use of any pesticides or other harsh chemicals. Hemp, however, is not legal to grow in the United States. For this reason, all hemp fabric has to be imported. Cotton, on the other hand can be grown throughout the States.
As hemp fabrics must be imported, they are often more expensive than products made with cotton. Organic cotton is also sometimes more expensive than cotton that is grown using chemicals. For these reasons, clothing in eco-fashion lines are often pricier than similar products made of non-sustainable fabrics. It is rare, however, for eco-fashion products to be as expensive as designer label clothing.