The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil. We don’t often think of the shirts on our backs, but the overall impact the apparel industry has on our planet is quite grim.

Fashion is a complicated business involving long and varied supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimately disposal of the garment. While the assessment that fashion is the second largest polluter is likely impossible to know, what is certain is that the fashion carbon footprint is tremendous. Determining that footprint is an overwhelming challenge due to the immense variety from one garment to the next. A general assessment must take into account not only obvious pollutants — the pesticides used in cotton farming, the toxic dyes used in manufacturing and the great amount of waste discarded clothing creates. It should also include the extravagant amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and shipping.

MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (14) MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (13) MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (10)

It’s the Second Dirtiest Thing in the World. And You’re Wearing It

Experts say, while cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Synthetic, man-made fibers, while not as water-intensive, often have issues with manufacturing pollution and sustainability. And across all textiles, the manufacturing and dyeing of fabrics is chemically intensive.

So how can designers make a difference regarding materials used within their collection, without compromising on their collections let alone damage their brand?

These shots were taken during London Lifestyle & Fashion Week 2016

Up and coming designer Mihaela Markovic who also supports saving the planet. Shows us how to rock this 100% recyclable plastic suit. Giving it her own sense of chic style.

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2016 Montblanc awards wearing the conscious collection during London Fashion Week

MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (7)

MCCollignon –  The Conscious Collection

It has been two years since meeting, Dutch fashion designer Monique Collignon. The last time we met Monique was in the process of redefining her showrooms as well as her collections.

Monique is a unique lady when it comes to showcasing her collection in 2016. The simple reason is 70% of all her clothing that she presents are made out of recycled plastics. Probably she is the first haute couture designer in the world, that produced such a sustainable collection. What on earth is recyclable plastic? You can listen to Monique and how she describe in detail what it is and the process involved.

Through her new collection, Collignon wants to raise attention to the (plastic) waste problem. Many different industries are sharing the message around plastics polluting our environment, therefore as a fashion designer with such influence such as Monique, she wants to grow awareness. While cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Synthetic, man-made fibers, while not as water-intensive, often have issues with manufacturing pollution and sustainability. Recyclable plastic is far less harsh process.

It is my first time seeing and feeling such fabric. And I have to say I am very impressed with the end result. The technique needed to be able to execute such a collection has taken Monique most of her life to master. Therefore taking  a bold move from moving away from the textiles and fabrics we so have long been used to, shows how serious she is in getting her message across.

MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (12) MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (6)

Returning To The Art Of Haute Couture.

I have been to catwalks where I have walked away thinking that was not couture at all. So whilst waiting for Monique to arrive, I went around the showroom to discover that her collections are a scientific masterpiece. That this is a skill truly lost in our world of fast fashion today. Talking to Monique she went on to explain how she is too is investing with women in poverty who have the skill to do the same work as she does but need people like her to invest in their craftsmanship too. More exciting, Monique pays them above and beyond what the fashion industry has not done in the past. Again you can listen too what she has to say about her reasons for this.

I am inspired to continue my journey as a female influence in the world of fashion. Will I be trending recycled plastic after meeting with Monique, I can proudly say yes. When I come across women like Monique, it reminds me how tough it is to work long hours to achieve such beautiful collection. Thank goodness designers like her continue to create, unique collections worth investing in.

Welcome to the world of Plastic Haute Couture, no known as MCCollignon – The Conscious Collection.

MCCollignon - The Conscious Co 2016 Photography by Gracie Opulanza (9)