June 10, 2010

(Eco)Fashonista. ~ Gretchen Eagan

Fashonista turns Environmentalist

What do you get when a fashionista turns environmentalist? One answer is, me.

How it happened is a bit of a story.

Fashion was always on my horizon. (I had a subscription to Vogue when I was 12, and wore lipstick to bed.) Yet, as I made my way through school and eventually university at the London College of Fashion, I knew that I needed something more from fashion. I needed to feel like I was doing something that contributed to the greater good. Sure, fashion does impact people—it gives them a sense of identity and self expression. But I needed another element to come into play.

That is when my education of eco-fashion began. Through a masters from the University of Buckingham, specializing in Sustainable Fashion through my dissertation, I discovered that not unlike myself, the general public was still unaware of the grave effects the fashion industry has on our environment, and of fashion’s rightful role in the Green Movement, given its propensity for change and wide reach.

During the discourse of my dissertation, I did what every knowledge-hungry student does: I consumed my topic—importing journals from other countries, scrolling through the British Library’s database in search of more on this topic of “sustainable fashion,” and eventually sitting down for one-to-one interviews with visionary leaders within the industry. It turns out that writing a dissertation is no small feat (mine was over 80 pages, all said done), and somewhere in the middle of all that theory and research, I found an outlet for my creative interpretation of eco-fashion, and FASHIONmeGREEN was born.


As I devoured both academic and popular literature around the topic of sustainable fashion, my knowledge base of the designers involved and criteria for classifying something as ‘eco’ grew. My love for fashion shifted and was now viewed through metaphorical green colored lenses. I still appreciated the beauty and creativity of fashion, and was now aware of eco-designers who were producing the latest and greatest trends and designs with an eco-approach.

With my new knowledge, I tried to show my fellow fashion colleagues that engaging in eco-fashion does not necessitate a forced choice between being ‘eco’ or ‘stylish’, but is rather quite a happy marriage of both ideals these days. Five years ago this would have been a very different reality. But as it stands today the number of designers who are designing ‘greener’ (including some of the bigger brands who are now sourcing a percentage of their materials from fairtrade and organic producers) is on the rise, and therefore so are our eco-fashion options.

I saw myself as the eco-to-mainstream fashion liaison. I would follow the normal fashion trends, and within my growing eco-fashion rolodex find the eco-equivalent to what was being featured. I started publishing these eco-fashion alternatives next to their mainstream fashion counter-parts in posts on FASHIONmeGREEN.com. Essentially, I started building a sustainable style resource for the discerning fashionista who wanted to go green with her style but didn’t want to sacrifice her sense of style. Sound familiar?

Upon graduating this past January, I decided to pour myself into FASHIONmeGREEN and develop another aspect to the style site…eco-fashion makeovers with style influencers. In an effort to reach a wider audience, I thought to myself, “Fashion me green. Take the phrase literally and show people how to retain their sense of fashion using all eco-designers from within their city.”

The LA Project- Fashion Is Poison from FASHIONmeGREEN.

So now, I find myself responding to the question, “Where do you live?” with “Everywhere.” Traveling from one fashion-focused city to the next, I set up shop for a month sourcing the style-influencers, the local eco-fashion designers and other eco amenities (spas, hotels, restaurants, boutiques) to then perform an eco-fashion makeover (known on the site as a ‘project’).

It is great fun to educate these modern day style icons on what eco-fashion is, and why we all should care about it. But it is even more rewarding to see their fashion-filled hearts light up when they see some of the designs they will be wearing during the photo shoot and disbelievingly state, “This is eco?”

FASHIONmeGREEN just wrapped the LA Project, and now I’m working on the NY Project. Then it is on to London and Paris! The response to FASHIONmeGREEN  as a new sustainable fashion awareness project and style site has been amazing. It is a personal mission that fills my own heart with that deeper sense of purpose I was searching for (in the most stylish of ways, of course!)—to help build a global platform for eco-fashion.

As I pass through your city, I hope you will join me, and check the site often for tips on how to fashion yourself green.

Greta Eagan is a trendsetting fashionista with a conscience! A sustainable fashion spokesperson and strategist- she helps promote eco-fashion in the digital space.  Backed by eight years in the fashion industry with graduate work at the London College of Fashion and a Masters with a specialization in Sustainable Fashion from the University of Buckingham. Greta is the founder of Fashion Me Green, a new sustainable fashion awareness project and style site. Read her weekly Trending Column on Eco Salon. You can also catch up with her on her personal blog, GretaGuide and follow her around @gretaeagan. Introspective, eco, a bit geeky, macro, model and gluten-free dessert chef—that’s Greta!

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