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Ethiopian designers promote eco-friendly wear

posted 10 Aug 2012, 08:02 by Mpelembe   [ updated 10 Aug 2012, 08:02 ]

Environmentally conscious designers recently gathered for Ethiopia's Eco Friendly Fashion Show, to promote socially and environmentally responsible fashion. Through the use of recycled materials and organic fabrics, they hope to make wear which is as sustainable, as it is beautiful.

Glamorous models, innovative designers and fashion aficionados recently came together in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to promote eco-friendly fashion and sustainable designs.
The Eco Friendly Fashion Show presented the works of eight Ethiopian designers who share a vision to make the fashion industry more environmentally.

One of the show's organisers, Girum Chala, says that the show was born from the realisation that current trends are unsustainable in the long run.

"We say it is time to wake up, time to recognize that the world will come to an end unless and otherwise there's this particular decision that its people should make of using resources that we have in this world," he said.

Eco fashion, also called sustainable fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and consumer trend, in which items are produced with consideration to the environmental and social impact they may have throughout their total life span, including their "carbon footprint".

Eco fashion uses natural fibers which are sustainably sourced, such as bamboo, organic cotton or "cruelty free wool". This means that the fabrics are made of crops grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

The designs can also be made by recycled materials such as plastic and rubber.

The show sported clothes, purses and shoes made from discarded waste, such as cans, tyres and bags.

"You know plastics can last up to 300 years without decomposing. So the cloth you make from a plastic can last long [for the person wearing it] and at the same time save the environment by using wasted plastics," said Mikias Girma, one of the designers who makes bags out of discarded plastics.

Sustainable fashion also puts emphasis on socially responsible sourcing and manufacturing, aiming to give fair trade price to crop growers and tailors. It also strives to use products grown and made locally to avoid "carbon footprint" from transport.

African fabrics are famous for their colourful tints and bright patterns. The designers at the show promoted the use of organic dyes instead of chemical ones, which can pollute air and water.

"The clothes I make are dyed with ink made from flower juices. They are free from any chemical products. So they are very safe for people who have allergie," said Mihret Mitiku.

The designers are also encouraged to create clothing which can be easily recycled or decomposes fast to minimize the impact discarded clothing has on the environment.

"These cloths are the types that can decompose easily. So, instead of contaminating the environment, they can be converted to a sort of fertilizers. Therefore, instead of buying clothes made of plastic materials it is better to wear these ones. So, what we are trying to say is we can promote our designers and protect the environment by wearing locally made safe clothes," said Lemlem Beyene, a model.

As African designers continue to make their mark in the world of fashion, more and more Ethiopian designers are hoping to change people's mind sets and encourage them to be more environmentally aware, through the clothes that they wear.