The Barneys holiday catalog is an annual guilty pleasure, and it was good to hear from fashion director Julie Gilhart at Opportunity Green how the retailer has started printing on recycled paper (and when you’ve got 1 million copies to distribute, the impact is important). Gilhart seems to be an internal activist within the company in focusing on sustainable product sourcing, and the results have been an original Jil Sander recycled knit collection, Yves Saint Laurent’s reuse of fabrics from former collections, and wider distribution of Stella McCartney’s organic line (November-perfect sweater at right). A potion of the sales from these partnerships benefit 1% For The Planet, and even more than that, I appreciated Gilhart’s honesty about her efforts: “We’re the least likely company in the least likely industry to become more sustainable. We’re not a green company, but we can try to change perceptions. I don’t believe in shouting in customer’s faces, but I do think it’s important to know where what you buy comes from and give back as you can.”
Gilhart joined Ecofabulous-ist Zem Joaquin and fuseproject founder Yves Behar in a conversation about the business of style to bemoan the perception that sustainable design should cost less, not the same as its current counterparts. He talked about a partnership with Mission Motors that is to result in the world’s fastest electric motorbike next year, though he didn’t mention his development of a space age-style vibrator with local firm JimmyJane. (On the future project front, “Story of Stuff” creator Annie Leonard said that she’ll be releasing more videos about the cosmetics industry and other consumer topics soon.)
I’ve been sporting a personal planner folio from Rickshaw Bags since I arrived at the conference, and I love the color combination they developed (my only concern is that my magenta and chartreuse-loving mom may try to swipe it, especially knowing the organizational issues that run in our family). It’s a risk I’m willing to take, and thanks to Rickshaw for stitching one up for me as part of their environmentally-friendly efforts.