Greening the "Runway"?

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with Project Runway last night. Since Bravo put a summary blurb of each episode on the site already, I was excited to see that episode 2 was going to be a “green” challenge. After seeing it, though, I’m having some mixed feelings.

On the one hand, PR should definitely be commended on even bringing it up. It’s a major exposure into the fashion world that a lot of people tune into, even average Janes like me who tend to not follow the runways too closely because I’d rather make my own style than follow trends. So the cocktail dress challenge did do a good job in showing that eco-friendly can be really classy and fashionable, too. And I forget which of the girls said it, but I did appreciate her comment about liking the challenge because the fashion industry does horrible things to the environment and she wants to do what she can.

On the other hand, I was a little unhappy with how they chose to do a “green” challenge. My first thought on it was that it might have more of a recycling twist to it, rather than purchasing new materials. So I was kind of disappointed that it was just another buy-fabric-and-make-this-dress challenge. The other thing that saddened me (which I know PR had no control over) was how limited the selection was. I know Mood is one of the big suppliers of the NYC design world. Even BurdaStyle uses it for their pattern sample garments. I know it’s hard for home sewers like me to get access to good, eco-friendly fabric. I guess I’d kind of hoped that, especially as awareness of the issue has been growing, NYC would be a little more on top of this and have a better supply.

I know I’m probably in no position to criticize. I’m obviously not the greenest fashionista around– I still have an awful time trying to figure out what to do with scraps, especially those pieces that are too small to cut anything new out of. I still use polyester and other synthetics–I feel a little guilty for it, but a lot of times that’s all I can manage to get my hands on, in the way of sheers and such. Plus I just like the texture of a lot of it. I’m a big texture girl when it comes to fabric. And, let’s face it, I’m a musician, which means money is a constant consideration, and I live in Delaware, which means that for a clothes-focused sewing girl, Joann’s is the only game in town. So until they get with the program and start stocking organic fabric, I’m limited to the choices of a) not using it, or b) buying it mail-order, paying a lot of money per yard, and getting it mailed from places that would probably offset all the good of organic fabric by the carbon footprint the shipping would leave. And, well, I like my crazy prints, and organic fabric is often rather solid-colored. Yesterday’s challenge being case in point. But still, I try to do what I can. And PR is obviously a huge influence on the number of people my age and younger that have come to realize that sewing isn’t just for their grannies. So they could have made this huge statement, and I can’t help feeling like they dropped the ball a bit on it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today (when you have hardly any customers to deal with and spend your entire morning pulling dying leaves off of daylilies and daisies, you have a lot of time to do this), and have decided that this is the PR challenge I would love to see: take the designers on a field trip. To Goodwill. And tell them that they have $20 and all their fabric/notions/etc have to come from the old clothes. And then watch them all squirm uncomfortably while I cackle in glee at how much ahead of them I am. Either that, or a challenge where old bridesmaid dresses are turned into something that actually can be worn more than once. I would really enjoy that. But since I have no say, I guess I’ll just keep eyeing Crafting a Green World for affordable fabric that strikes my fancy, raiding my own local Goodwills, and pondering what can be done with a tea-length cobalt blue spaghetti strap dress.

Oh, and Suede really needs to stop talking about himself in the third person.

(P.S. I will give an update about my own craftiness from yesterday…but in a different post. Whether it’s before or after the return of Friday Favorites remains to be seen.)


4 thoughts on “Greening the "Runway"?

  1. I agree with everything you said. The organic selection was seriously lacking (although better than what I have available in small town Georgia). I’d love to see them let loose in a Goodwill or other resale shop (I’m a huge fan of Goodwill). Lastly, I’d be Suede’s biggest fan (I loved his dress last night) if he’d freakin’ quit talking about himself in the third person!!!


  2. I haven’t watched the new season of project runway, and I hardly watched last season. The challenges didn’t interest me, and it felt like drama was flying more than the creativity. Maybe I’ll give the new season a try…I enjoy restyling clothing. I just turned an old “polo” style dress, into a polo-shirt. I also like making jeans into skirts. There are so many ways to re use clothing. On the other hand, I love buying new fabrics–they hold so much potential too! Little scraps are great for making Barbie doll clothes. Or you can piece the smaller scraps that match together and make little pillows, or decorative handkerchiefs. I too, am a Joann’s shopper. It’s basically all I have in NJ, unless I want to spend more money and go into the city. (which I have never done) I have found the internet to be a good source of unique fabrics. A lot of websites will mail samples too.


  3. The first season they did send them to a resale shop when they were down to 5 or 6 people; the results were kind of disappointing, but if they’d had a better concept for the challenge, I think the outcome would have been different. Remade bridesmaid dresses would be great (I found your blog when Crafting a Green World featured your remade dress).But you’re right – they could really lead the charge on green fashion and they’re dropping the ball.


  4. I was also pretty surprised that “green” meant new fabric off the bolt for this challenge. Even tho’ a raw material may be organic, it doesn’t necessarily mean that producing fabric from that material is substantially better for the environment than producing non-organic fabrics. There were some interesting articles a couple or so years aho about Bono’s label, Edun, and how their organic cotton jeans may be healthier against your skin but the production is nearly as harmful to the environment after dying and distressing and all those other processes.I recall an episode in Season 1 where the challenge was to use vintage clothes to make futuristic garments — I kind of like that one. Last season there was the Levi’s challenge, where the designers took various Levis denim products and refashioned them into an “iconic” look, and the challenge where they refashioned garments for women who’d lost a ton of weight to fit their new bodies. (It is ridiculous my encyclopedic knowledge of this show, and I also didn’t really enjoy last season, LOL!) Still, though, there isn’t much focus on refashioning existing garments as the greenest choice we have, and PR is definitely in a position to educate lots and lots of people.I love your idea of a bridesmaid dress challenge. Thanks for addressing this — it was on my mind, too!


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