I'm a huge fan of organic fashion. The problem though has always been finding stuff that's as friendly to my wallet as it is to the environment. Organic clothing has a reputation for being on the expensive side-and for good reason. Like organic food and other goods, it costs more to produce and manufacture organic items. Luckily, as the demand grows, the prices drop. This fall you can find everything from organic denim and tees to trendy jackets and even shoes at prices that won't break the bank.
H&M has long been one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It's a pleasure because the clothes are so cute and cheap, but I have always felt guilty knowing I wasn't buying eco-friendly stuff. With stores all over the United States and Canada (as well as Europe), the brand is quickly growing. Along with closet staples like jeans, t-shirts and work attire, you'll also find the season's trendiest and most stylist pieces. And all at ridiculously low prices. Now, to top if off, H&M has gone semi-green. Continuing venture they started in 2006, H&M now uses organic cotton in all of their departments including men, women and children's clothing. (Although I went in over the weekend and they didn't have much organic stuff left. And when I asked a sales person why, she cheerfully chimed, "well, organic's was out of style now". So the juries out of this one.)
Trying to maintain their famous inexpensive price while helping the environment, H&M aims to increase the volume of organic cotton used in their clothing by at least 50 percent a year for the next five years. All of the organic cotton used is certified by the Control Union-an international independent certification quality control group. The company is also a member of the Organic Exchange, which promotes the growth of organic cotton. In stores you'll find organic pieces labeled with special hangtags. This season, in addition to a selection of tops and dresses that you can get either in colorful solids or featuring nature-inspired patterns, the women's department will also have a couture-inspired anorak jacket, a recycled wool coat with a stylish funnel neck and wide-legged organic jeans.
Another brand giant that continues to go green is JCPenney. In 2006 they reduced 31,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions with Energy Management System technology, better lighting and high-efficiency HVAC systems in their stores. In 2007 JCPenney was awarded the Energy Star Partner of the Year by the Environmental Protection Agency. This year they introduced their private 'Simply Green' label which includes fashion for men and women as well as home goods. The clothing selections feature 'Simply Green' logo on a hangtag that includes material details. All of the organically labeled fashion pieces must contain at least 70% organically grown cotton or linen.
I love to shop online (who doesn't?) and one of my favorite destinations is OrganicStyle.com. They have food, flowers and, yes, fashion. In the women's apparel section you'll find a wide variety of styles and price points. It's fun just to peruse through the selection of amazing options available for less than 50 bucks. Inexpensive picks-sustainable, handcrafted jewelry, organic cotton lounge pants and soft bamboo dresses-can be found in every fashion department. Organic Style also features plenty of more expensive pieces that you'll surely drool for. My trick is to check back regularly because many of these items go on sale. And then I have no excuse not to whip out my credit card.
Finally I have to mention my favorite new shoes. Simple makes great eco-friendly sneakers, but right now I'm obsessed with their Green ToeT collection. These shoes are the most environmentally responsible shoes they make. I recently bought the Toepaz, which is my ideal combination of cute and comfortable. They're made with hemp, organic cotton, water-based cements and recycled tires. Yep, tires. You can easily slip them on with a pair of jeans or a skirt and they're perfect fall transition shoes after sandal season but before you bring out the boots.