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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 13:42 GMT
A catwalk show with a conscience
By Dan Parkinson
BBC News

A model wearing recycled clothes
Catwalk models wore clothes made out of recycled materials
As with all things "green" these days, "eco-fashion" is a growing industry, and, as London Fashion week draws to a close, some of the very best designers in the field showed off their creations.

A succession of pouting models pound the catwalk as dance music thumps out from speakers above and quick-fire camera flashes light the room. So far, so London Fashion Week.

But while the parade of willowy women has plenty of glitz and glamour, this, they say, is a catwalk show with a conscience.

All the clothes on display have been recycled from an array of materials including car seats, bicycle inner tubes, and firemen's trousers.

Recycling 'crucial'

Old suits once gathering dust in charity shops have been turned into coats, long-forgotten football shirts have become stylish dresses and 1940s curtain material is now handbag lining.

As with most "eco" things these days, "eco-fashion" is a growing industry, as designers decide to weave their creations out of the world's mountains of discarded materials.

The shoe that used to be a suit

With the increased availability of cheap clothing - bought to be discarded after a few outings - campaigners say fabric is ripe for recycling.

What can be done with it was the focus of this week's show at the Science Museum's Dana Centre, in London, where five leading eco-fashion designers were showing their wares.

"People are becoming more and more environmentally aware," says Cyndi Rhodes, of green group Anti-Apathy, which works with firm Terra Plana to create "eco-shoes". "Personal lifestyles are having a massive impact on the planet and people are realising they have to act.

"Recycling materials needn't be boring. It can be fun and creative as we are seeing tonight."

Terra Plana's brand, Worn Again, utilises discarded and discontinued stock to create its range of high-fashion shoes. Prison blankets, military jackets, jeans, shirts and car seat leather have all been used.

Worn Again
The Worn Again range uses a variety of recycled materials
Its "bike shoe" comprises car matting for the sole, tyre trim on the front and back, and bicycle inner tube on the sides. The main section is made of "e-leather", a material woven from scraps. The shoe costs around 65.

Designer Orsola De Castro, who runs the From Somewhere brand, uses scraps and off-cuts from famous fashion houses to make her clothes.

A tweed woman's coat she was displaying at the show, which retails for around 400, was made from material used for men's jackets and shirts.

The lining was from spotted silk ties and the buttons she had picked up at a shop in Spain.

"We are seeing a new culture where people are buying a throwing out," she says. "You can buy a top in a charity shop for 50p which was on the high street a week before at 2.50. My approach to recycling was a creative need which has now developed a political dimension. We need to recycle much, much more."

Coat of many colours (and fabrics)

Alison Teich, who runs New York-based accessories company Again NYC, says eco-fashion has taken off faster in British than stateside

"People in Britain are much more advanced in terms of eco-fashion than in New York," she says. "I hope that will change. I just wanted to be a part of this movement which is why I'm here."

So what do those in the audience make of this thrift-shop approach to fashion?

"I'm here for a fun night out and also because all this looks like a good idea," says Brendon Desmond, 37. "It's important we start recycling because we are constantly making more and more stuff which heads almost straight to landfill."

Fashion student Louisa Sorrentino, 28, says this is the start of something big.

"A lot of women are concerned about the environment and recycling and it's something that is going to grow."


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