Are Mass-Market Eco-Fashion Lines a Good Idea?

Tara Eisenberg and Inessah Selditz of Sublet

Tara Eisenberg and Inessah Selditz of Sublet Clothing

The mass market will inevitably grab hold of anything popular, regardless of whether that market actually embraces the ethos behind the cause or it’s just in it for pure commercial gain. That said, we think that any method that moves sustainable fashion into the mainstream is a step in the right direction. A lot of people ask if we think that sustainable fashion will be the norm in the future—and we hope so—but truth be told, being green means turning back the clock to a more conscious way of living and consuming.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection


Fashion before mass manufacturing was certainly sustainable—before the advent of artificial materials and dyes, cheap overseas labor, and overnight turnaround times. Around the turn of the 20th century, along with the explosion in the transportation industry, weapons, population, and just about everything else, fashion design and manufacturing turned to synthetic fabrics, chemically accurate dyes, and the outsourcing of labor to meet the growing need for cheap, disposable garments. This need has since accelerated and grown exponentially.

Sublet Fall/Winter 2009 Collection


Cutting back on carbon emissions isn’t just a transportation or energy generation issue; the manufacturing industries, including fashion, have to follow suit. What’s heartening is that as organic food production gains popularity, we’re also noticing a corresponding growth in demand for organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, and other sustainable and rapidly renewable textile fibers.

We sense that fashion manufacturing, by necessity, will someday (soon) turn back to its sustainable roots.

We sense that fashion manufacturing, by necessity, will someday (soon) turn back to its sustainable roots. We don’t think people will go back to living in an agrarian society, but we have to develop new ways for fashion to embrace a more cradle-to-cradle life-cycle ideology.

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2 Responses to “Are Mass-Market Eco-Fashion Lines a Good Idea?”

  1. alice says:

    I think it’s awesome that you guys pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to mainstream markets. They’re the ones with the most visibility, which definitely helps the smaller lines expand their reach. I think that in some ways, this also helps the corporations as well — by their being able to tout the fact that they care about sustainability by carrying alternative brands, it raises public awareness of the issues too.

    Actually, I found this topic incredibly interesting, because it sort of ties into a nonprofit I’m volunteering with at the moment (Nomi Network — they are based out in NYC as well) that hopes to leverage this very strategy to create a market for products made by sex trafficking survivors and impoverished women who might be otherwise forced to give up their children into the commercial sex industry.

    Mass-marketing corporations often get flack (and rightly so) for some of their cost-cutting practices, but they also certainly have a lot of power to promote good, sustainable, socially conscious consumerism, as well. :)

  2. Tob says:

    Thanks for the great post. There is not a lot to add. However, sustainanility for us at VONTUM also means to produce local and more longlasting (meaning high quality) clothes. Besides the whole green issue, this is our way to reduce carbon emissions etc. Cheers, Marisa from

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