Fashion that Filters the Air We Breathe

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High fashion meets Sustainability with a dress from Catalytic Clothing that improves air quality by breaking down airborne pollutants coming in close proximity to the surface of the fabric.  Erin O'Connor as HERSELF, still from Catalytic Clothing Film courtesy of Adam Mufti

The term “sustainable luxury” appears to be an oxymoron. However, the coexistence of fashion and sustainability has become a haute topic of discussion lately. In the world of fast fashion, trends change more than ever and eventually textiles flood the earth’s landfills.

Companies like H&M and Puma have taken a position on the matter.  Puma’s “Bring Me Back” program encourages customers to return footwear, apparel and accessories to be repurposed and recycled at I-Collect. Last month, H&M held a discussion at Vogue Headquarters to discuss the future of sustainable fashion with a “Conscious Talk.” The Swedish retailer also created a new ‘Conscious Exclusive’ collection featuring Hollywood-inspired dresses made with sustainable material. The area of luxury fashion however, falls behind as most high-end retailers continue to push desirable yet un-sustainable textiles.

What if couture gowns improved the air we breathe? 

 In 2010, Catalytic Clothing introduced, Herself, a couture dress that filters air through chemical reactions on the surface of the fabric. Breaking down anything that approaches the photo catalysts surface, the fabric condenses airborne pollutants, eliminating the negative impact they present to human health.

How can a sustainable garment look luxurious?

Creating garments that look luxurious without exhausting the earth’s natural resources, British fashion designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse proves that couture can be sustainable. Back in 2011, Nieuwenhuyse used discarded pieces of plywood, laser-cutting the material to mimic the rich façade of snakeskin. 

In the sphere of economic, environmental and social change, luxury fashion has the potential to redefine what makes style exclusive. For this new wave of designers, sustainable luxury is more than just an after-thought.

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“Herself” challenges couture norms.  Catalytic Clothing Herself Sheffield 2010 courtesy of Jon Daughtry

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Puma introduces the “Bring Me Back” program where customers return footwear, apparel and accessories to be repurposed and recycled.

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H&M presents a ‘Conscious Exclusive’ collection, featuring Hollywood-inspired dresses with sustainable material that have already walked the red carpet.  From left: Dress with Beaded Embroidery, Rose-trimmed Dress, Tulle Dress

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Designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse plays upon the idea that high-end couture can be sustainable. Image courtesy of Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse.

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Nieuwenhuyse used discarded pieces of plywood and laser-cut the material to mimic the rich façade of snakeskin. Image courtesy of Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse.

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