Tuesday, 29 January 2008

German social fashion contests by Armed Angels and Fairwear.de

Armed Angels are a young, trendy social fashion label from Cologne. They are conquering Germany with just a few simple shirts. Only selling over the internet, or through friends and friends of friends of friends. 3,33 Euro per piece of clothing goes to charity. For their innovative business concept, Armed Angels recently won a German innovation price. Check these guys out, we will hear more of them!

Angelface 2008
Armed Angels organize open contests on both their designs and models. More than 200 models have already joined. It's actually quite fun to have the chance to choose a model for a clothing brand. They also have style-of-the-month voting, where people can send in their designs and vote two shirt prints per month into the webshop. I just wanted to comment that they should also put a vote for their charity projects, but they already do...

Streetwear & social activism

Also the crew of the German ethical fashion webshop Fairwear.de organize a shirt print contest. You can send in your print design, graphics and creative impulses until the 8th of Februari 2008. The best designs will be printed, the deisgners get 50 Euros and discount in the webshop. I like the Fairwear guys because they connect their site to both streetwear styles and social activism, and seem to stay close to their ideals. They have a nice mix of fair fashion labels including Kuyichi, Tudo Bom?, Epona, THTC, Machja, and No Sweat. Just on question, where are the German ethical fashion brands?

picture: Armed Angels

Monday, 28 January 2008

Recycled Juice Pouch Gown: eco-fashion statement by Nature vs Future

Recycling fashion is still on it's way up. Now organic cotton is getting into the mainstream market, trend hungry eco-fashionistas need something different again. Well, this one-of-a-kind dress is quite a statement!

The dress, by designer Nina Valenti of Naturevsfuture is made from thousands of recycled ‘Honest Kids’ juice pouches from Terracycle . Each pouch was cut into different size squares and mounted on to a silk taffeta lining creating different patterns that cover every inch of the dress.

Cradle-to-cradle fashion

After the recent Itialian mafioso trash scam here comes the trash glam! After cradle-to-cradle architecture, a concept where buildings are up to 100 percent sustainable and partly biodegradable, we are approaching cradle-to-cradle fashion. Next season you will eat your dress, baby!

source: Inhabitat

Rainforests disappear faster thanks to biofuel

In an effort to make our cars go greener, our EU governments decided to push the production of biofuel (also known as biogas or biodiesel, with an immediate result: rainforests are disappearing faster. After environmental organizations alarmed, the EU promised to forbid to cut down rain forests for the production of biofuel. But generally, the high demand of resources makes it more attractive than ever before to cut down these trees and plant soy for oil or hamburgers.

All in all the question rises: can we save our planet just with the 'right' consumption? Or can we only by a grand, political shift, a green revolution? At least, just consuming the right, green sounding products won't help. On the other hand, for us as consumers it is the only way to change the way things are produced, and the effects are larger than one might think.

Green revolution
The effect of a high demand for eco-products is the mainstreaming of good business. And in the side stream, this development is part of a bigger movement, a movement of global consciousness. I believe we are at a paradigm shift of which the effects are still to come. We have the possibility of a historic moment. We can. By making a choice in what we consume, and why. And by demanding high results from our political representatives. It's time for some revolution, and we might be just in the middle of it.

Saving rainforests is so...retro
Yes, we better be in a hurry to safe some rainforests (again). Some time ago I had a conversation: where is the safe the rainforest thing? Why is it not hot? An excellent topic to get high up on the agenda again. Especially because it is connected so narrowly to climate change. Because it doesn't make sense to plant trees as long as we cut them down faster. Saving Rainforests is so... retro. But what about a nice recycled Save the Rainforest shirt in best New Rave style cut?

EcoWorldly , GreenPeace , WikiPedia

Picture by Lova Palmer

Friday, 25 January 2008

Self Hub Berlin and the Supermarket 2.0

Last days I kind of literally stumbled over two interesting project spaces in my living area in Berlin Kreuzberg. The first one was a project called "supermarkt2.0". In an old supermarket space, they created a common work place for all kinds of creatives, without walls, so you could walk around and "shop" around. Architects, fashion photographers, pottery makers, painters, city planners, web designers all working criss cross through each other, without separating walls. I just passed by, were invited inside and had some talks on interesting topics such as whether there are blob like buildings in Berlin or not.

Self HUB
Yesterday I was at the opening of a project called Self HUB. It's a flexible working and common space for "social pioneers". The idea of the Hub flew over from London, and already developed itself in several cities across the world, from Rotterdam to Johannesburg. They organize all kinds of coaching and network projects for people who work on social innovation. That includes sustainable development but also psychology. Cultural creatives in the wider sense.

Social networking is the new black, the black2.0 off course.

I met a lot of people, not everyone I recognized as a social pioneer, but definitely there was an unusual open and friendly atmosphere, and I felt they were really putting their sweat and tears into this new project. For German social pioneers, you must check them out and will hear from one of their upcoming projects.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

NVOHK: eco-fashion managed by the people who wear it

All these new, green eco-fashion brands. They are soo cool, soo green, soo georgeous. A serious fashion event can't do without them. And there we are. Sometimes I wonder, why all activists, all creatives, all green thinkers are capitalist entrepreneurs nowadays. Do we really believe consumption can save the planet? Concurrence will make us more friendly to each other? Fashion brings enlightenment?

In this light, initiatives that strive to create a different company model are rather interesting. There is a growing a amount of network / community based social companies. Although they are pioneers, they also set the trend in an era dominated by web2.0.

Fashion 2.0

A good example of a community managed company is the eco-friendly surf brand NVOHK. They recruite members through what they call a "crowdfunding business" to develop and launch a new lifestyle brand that blends social responsibility and financial performance.

Based in Los Angeles, Nvohk is recruiting 20,000 - 40,000 members to contribute $50 a year to develop and shape the nvohk brand. Members will make major business decisions including logo design, web design, product design, advertising, etc. Members will also receive a free member t-shirt, 35% of nvohk's net profits in the form of reward points that can be redeemed to purchase products, and 25% off all nvohk products. nvohk will donate 10% of net profits to environmental organizations selected by its members.

I just heard from my partner Cecilia that she already is a member. I am curious...

Source: www.projectnvohk.com

Monday, 21 January 2008

Re-Fashion: how your old Tee becomes a Slow Fashion statement

Do you also wonder what to do with this dear old shirt, and do not dare to throw it away because of all the memories sticking to it? Now here is your chance to actually give your old shirt a new life where it`s story is not washed away, but traveling with it.

Re-shirt.net is an online shop, collecting old shirts and documenting the life journey of every Re-Shirt around the world. Where normally a shirt get's less value while being worn, Re-shirts become more valuable while becoming the centre of a story and being worn by different people. Ever shirt get's an orange tag with an identification code. And the longer a shirt circulates, the more interesting it's history becomes...

Artistic statement
Re-shirt is initiated by the creative entrepreneur network Shapeshifters and more an artistic statement against overconsumption and the bad effects of conventional clothing production than a serious approach to get all the old shirts of the world send to Vienna with their stories and all.

Slow Fashion

Actually, this shirt action turns around the whole perception of old clothing! A piece of clothing is getting more valuable with the story it collects, and so fashion designers have to suggest this stories with advertising, image building, using retro prints, etc. But in reality, the story of your grandmothers dress is more exciting than that new Vutton bag, isn't it. Let's be slow!

With all the Fashion Fairs around, Slow Fashion gives a good contrast:

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Green caravan dreams, or how Berlin lost its mobile homes

Berlin lost a bit of it’s rebellious soul again. Since the 1st of January, most remarkable vehicles are considered illegal because of their high emissions. Until recently, the streets of Berlin were filled with old caravans, self-made buses, hippie vans, mobile homes, and gipsy style movable houses. But new, green policies declared war to the unfiltered diesel-motors. And the streets of Berlin are… cleaner.

What is presented as greening in one way, might be greenwashing in another. Strict emulsion and pollution policies in cities are a good initiative, in my opinion. But the rules only target to older models, while the new cars are not stimulated to become more greener than they are. On the contrary, the ‘green’ sticker on your car gives you the illusion, that your car is green.

As the owners of an old Volkswagen 'Bully', we are lucky to have a gasoline van with catalysator. Our bus got a ‘green’ sticker, the greenest level one can get (there is green, yellow, orange, red, and no sticker for the too dirty outcasts). But what is green about a van driving on gasoline and drinking one-on-ten?

It would be more honest to make emission restrictions for new cars ass well. While the old cars are bullied away and will find a new life in Eastern Europe or Africa, a pressure on new cars could mean something on a global level. If they would have the courage, the Berlin municipality could start to forbid or eco-tax extreme jeeps and other new, polluting car models.

We are meanwhile dreaming of new alternatives for our ‘green’ but polluting travel friend. Recently we found out about the Verdier Solar Power, a Westfalia based, high tech caravan on hybrid and hydraulic power. A wet dream for green travelers, Wesfalia hobbyists, LOHAS, and design fetishists. The red dot award winning design is still only a design, but let’s hope it will be released rather soon!

(images (c) copyright Verdier)

Friday, 18 January 2008

The perfect LOHAS housing: earthships

"Earth ship? What by mother earth is that?" Earth ships are sustainable houses made of recycled materials and with simple, low tech methods. Earth ship often have often organic shapes, integrating recycled materials such as glass bottles and car tires, locally sourced wood, etc. The idea with an earth ship is that it is self-sufficient by i.e. collecting water, creating it's own energy, using techniques for warmth storage, and a food- supplying garden.

The concept of earth ships can be applied in both natural and urban environments, but it is mostly used in deserted areas. The concept is simple, affordable and I bet it will become more trendy to build this kind of living spaces also in Europe within the coming years. Often round shapes and futuristic styles are integrated, some earth ships look like blobs or Barbapapa- houses, while others are completely covered completely by plants, giving it the looks of a hobbit hole. Ideal for eco-adicts, LOHAS, creatives, architecture freaks, and generally for people living in a deserted area.

In The Netherlands a group of people is realizing an interesting project called "Alminde" with sustainable housing in the flat 'polder' lands not far from Amsterdam. Initiated by artist village Ruigoord, the project is carried out in cooperation with the local government and two large housing corporations. Between fields and forests, a local community of about sixty sustainable houses is created. All participants design and build their own house, but the ground is shared ownership, and half of the area is used as community ground for group rooms, meditation space, ateliers, shop, and vegetable gardens.

For more info on earth ships:
Earthship report by CNN
Earthship report by Al Jazeera

Think Green, Live Green Challenge

Bring green to your screen! JuntoVenture, a video activist collective and non-profit environmental organization, is hosting a multi-media challenge entitled “The Think Green, Live Green Challenge.”

JuntoVenture created the interactive challenge to build a community of dialog about the challenges of eco-friendly living. Participants are encouraged to submit their responses using a digital homemade video to win 'green' prizes. The video submission deadline is February 28, 2007.

The challenge is geared towards building a community-based discussion about “going green.” JuntoVenture seam to be cool crew of young creative activists based in California. They are using digital media to inspire, educate, and empower people to live a more sustainable lifestyle. www.juntoventure.org

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Organic Exchange opens office in Amsterdam

Organic Exchange is opening office in Europe! Organic Exchange is a charitable organization from the United States that aims to promote organic agriculture with a special focus on fibers such as cotton. They support brands and organizations in the field. Their new focus on Europe will be another push for the rise of cool, ethcial fashion, because they have the capacities to also support larger brands to green up their production process...

With an office in The Netherlands, they are going to cooperate closely with Made-By. They will be supported by dutch development organisations ICCO and Solidaridad. In 2008, OE will offer three types of services to help brands and retailers develop their organic business as well continuing to provide their member services. These services include four basic training events, which are open to anyone but are targeted at retailers and suppliers. They will take place in Amsterdam, Germany, the UK and Sweden.

source: Eco Textile News

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Act local, find local

A mysterious group called I-local campaigned in The Netherlands with a radical activist approach, the slogan "act local! find local!" and statements like "globalization is over".

They spread more than 10.000 of their orange balaclavas, extreme YouTube videos and all around the country they glued slogans at the outward roads of villages and cities, calling car drivers to go back home. With the background idea: most things you can find in your own neighborhood. So why go somewhere else? A rather radical but interesting reaction on the enormous traffic jam problems in this overstuffed country.

Off course, this mysterious action group of radical anti-globalists turned out to be an internet company offering a local search engine, now good for 1 million visitors a month in the Benelux. Guerillia marketing is still on it's rise, but this example is remarkable. Especially for a country that lately has been in the picture for it's anti-European sentiments. And for the real anti-globalists this might be a bit of an image-problem. I wouldn't be surprised if the I-locals will infiltrate anti-G8 and WTO demonstrations with their orange balaclavas and slogans like: "Act local! Ami go home!"...

Hiphonest: ethical fashion in Amsterdam

A cross in a circle, passing by on a bag, a jacked or a pair of jeans. Ethical fashion brand Kuyichi made it quite far in The Netherlands! In Berlin we had to suffer to find more than one kind of Kuyichi male jeans, here Kuyichi is rather mainstream. Even in the village where my parents live there is a shop with a better collection than any shop in Berlin can offer, meanwhile also selling Misericordia and Inti without even marketing their shop as ethical.

Is ethical fashion more hot in the Netherlands than in Germany? Hard to say. Germany has been a pioneer with organic cotton clothing, and still has a strong position in the "eco 0.1". But what about "eco 0.2", the new, young and trendy eco-fashion movement?

Something especially developed is the amount of projects, campaigns and organizations that commit themselves to hyping ethical clothing. In Germany I have the feeling this is not happening too much. That's a big difference. In example dutch organization Solidaridad, inventor of the Max Havelaar - Fair Trade label, the Utz-certification for coffee (a sort of Fair Trade Light for the mainstream coffee market), brains behind several ethical clothing brands including Kuyichi, and the Made-By initiative.

Also other initiatives have been a lot in the picture, in example the actions of the young, creative collective YOI, with a guerilla store and fashion shows, who introduced and hyped the term Hiphonest for the new eco-fashion generation. Now 'Hiphonest' might be the most used term in the Netherlands for trendy ethical clothing.

The reason for my Amsterdam visit this time was a meeting with Goede Waar & Co, a dutch consumer organization specialized in ethical consumption and sustainable production. One of their focuses is clothing. One of their activities is a "clothing checker", a tool to give information to consumers about social and environmental aspects of their clothing. They ask ethical and mainstream brands to fill in their questionnaire, visit the companies when possible, and give scores for the categories: social, environment, economy (people, planet, profit).
Goede Waar & Co do also a lot in campaigning, in example organizing swapper parties, and swapping your clothes on parties is getting hot if you did not know it yet.

After my visit to Goede Waar & Co I walked back through the Jordaan to the station. On my way through the Haarlemmerstraat I passed two stores for "Natural clothes", and off course the ethical fashion store Nukuhiva, with a rather strong choice of ethical classics. Not a daring choice, most of the collection was black (if green is the new black, it still looks quite black!).
About half of the Nukuhiva clothing collection is Kuyichi, a heaven for 'style conscious' Kuyichi lovers! Furthermore brands like Edun, Misericordia, Loomstate, and Intoxica. They had also a small but cool choice of shoes from Veja (organic, vegan shoes) and Worn Again. And the fantastic jewelery from designer Natalie Dissel, who I lately met during the Africa Inspires workshop in Kenya.

This part of town is loved for its small houses and picturesque atmosphere, and what once was a poor area is now a yuppies paradise. Still I am amazed that with the extreme house prices this area is still lively and dynamic, with a good blend of students, expats, LOHAS, artists, weirdos, dealers and grandmothers. For the ethical consumer there is a lot of offer, with a bio-supermarket, and the booming 'honest' coffee and bagels concept. The largest ecological market I have seen so far. And not to forget, bikers are the number one in traffic! At least they believe so.

*** article by Frans C. Prins

More interesting dutch initiatives on ethical clothing:
- Sustainable Fashion Community: Het is groen en het...
- Cotton Clash, hiphonest parties, ethical fashion shows: Move Your World
- Fair Wear Foundation
- Finding ethical products in The Netherlands on: Alles Duurzaam
- Clean clothes