During the past few years, Philadelphia’s trends in music, art and countless other areas developed almost too quickly to keep track of. One interesting trend in fashion gets better with every wave: eco-friendly clothing. Philly has gone green.
Shops that are full of bamboo shirts, hemp wallets and skirts made from organic cotton have sprouted up all over Philly. Their owners are avid supporters of small business and together form an environmentally conscious network of friends. These artists help to spread the word, hoping people will opt to shop smart and save the earth.
Arcadia Boutique, located in Northern Liberties, is one of these shops. Owned by Ali McCloud, a Philly native who recently returned after years in New York City, Arcadia sells more than clothing.
“I’m doing a lot of different stationary lines that are made out of recycled paper with low-impact dying and printing and things like that,” McCloud said. She developed an interest in eco-friendly fashion while working on a graduate piece at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“And there’s also an eco jewelry line in this area that will have a sort of ‘jewelry swap,’ because reusing something that’s already made is the best way to not add more pollution to the environment,” she said.
McCloud decided that 50 to 60 percent of Arcadia’s products would be environmentally friendly. She reasoned that every naturally produced item is a small contribution to a big cause.
“You could buy a regular cotton T-shirt or an organic cotton T-shirt produced in a socially responsible way,” McCloud said. “That’s taking a small step towards doing something that’s a little bit better for the earth.”
Bamboo, a major product used in making the clothing for Arcadia, is in high demand at shops like McCloud’s because of its fine texture.
“Bamboo fabric is like silk. People come in and they’re like, ‘I’ve never felt fabric so soft,'” McCloud said. “So they’re really trying to keep up with the demand and they’re finding easier ways to produce it.”
“Eco-friendly” is a term that encompasses more than just clothing made of certain natural products. M. Comet, an artist who has been an advocate of sustainable culture for years now, understands that being environmentally conscious is a way of life.
“I think it’s crucial to buy from independent clothing designers and also that it’s fair-trade, where people are paid fair wages, rather than imported clothing,” Comet said.
Comet attended a party last Friday at Revelations Boutique, a small shop on South Fourth Street. Inside the shop, women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and naturally-made accessories were 30 percent off. Friends of Matt Bacine, the shop’s owner, painted leafy trees on the walls.
Comet, a maker of clothing herself, sees symbolism in everything that people wear.
“I feel that the images that you wear on your clothes are a reflection of you and shows people about who you are,” Comet said. “If you have organically-grown clothing, you don’t have to use chemicals to spray on the cotton itself so you save the air and the water from waste.”
Revelations, like many shops of its kind, does business with socially responsible, independent clothing labels. However, it isn’t up-and-coming like most eco-friendly clothing shops in the city.
“We opened three years ago and have been doing great business ever since,” Bacine said. Interested people crowded Revelations Boutique steadily for all seven hours of the party.
Comet, who transfers original collages onto recycled clothing, spent her Friday night browsing and enjoying the snacks, drinks and deals at Revelations. She is just one person with the potential to make a real difference through simply being selective about the clothes she wears.
“For me, it’s an art and hopefully it’s influencing other people as well to become more conscious,” she said.
Carlene Majorino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.