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Underfashion Hosts "Think Green, Make Green"

Frank Crow of Komar, Tricia Carey of Lenzing, Artie Nathan, Mary-Ann Pandolfo and Tim Williams of Dystar.
Frank Crow of Komar, Tricia Carey of Lenzing, Artie Nathan, Mary-Ann Pandolfo and Tim Williams of Dystar.

(Filed Under Fashion News). Green is certainly a buzzword these days, but making and selling eco-friendly apparel remains a challenge for the fashion industry, especially in these tough times.

On the evening of April 28th, the Underfashion Club hosted the "Think Green, Make Green" panel discussion at the W Hotel in New York City. Panel members Tricia Carey of Lenzing Fibers Inc., Gale Epstein of Hanky Panky and Tim Williams of DyStar spoke to a full room of attendees about how they employ eco-friendly business practices.

Carey argued that, while green was practically an afterthought for the fashion consumer years ago; it is becoming increasingly mainstream, especially among the younger generation.

Lenzing's sustainable Tencel and Modal textiles are made from trees and are biodegradable, and recently the eco-conscious company Patagonia added Tencel to their list of accepted fibers. According to Carey, Lenzing maintains a clean manufacturing process by using the least amount of resources possible, and uses the excess waste from trees to produce food materials like sugar.

She also addressed the conception of green products as costly, stating that Tencel needs less dye than most other fibers, which makes for a more affordable dying process.

According to Williams, Dystar maintains green manufacturing processes by using eco-friendly dyes and rainwater to produce their textiles. Additionally, the company invested approximately $15 million into installing solar paneling at their Charlotte, North Carolina office, which will reduce production costs.

Williams emphasized that textile companies need to educate themselves on green certifications in order to put out a fully green product. He explained that if the manufacturers do not request that textile companies use green dyes, they will use non-green chemicals to achieve the desired colors.

Williams admitted that the challenge for companies lies in the fact that fashion comes first for the consumer, while green comes second or third. However, Dystar believes that the future of green production will be close collaborations between technology and textile companies, leading to more refined and healthful products.

Epstein addressed the costliness of producing green merchandise from the wholesale perspective. According to her, Hanky Panky invested a large amount of their own money in producing their organic cotton line, which will debut in stores this fall. She also pointed out that although she herself loves Tencel fabric, it is not well-received among her consumer base.

Hanky Panky is committed to green practices in more than just their organic line, and she suggested that companies employ eco-friendly business practices in the workplace. Although she said that the consumer "unfortunately wants packaging" Hanky Panky's is all made from post-consumer material using as little resources as possible.

Additionally, Hanky Panky's New York office recycles paper, and educates employees on other green practices.

Jose Herrero of Bloomingdale's was scheduled to appear on the panel as well, but was unable to make the event due to an injury. However, according to a Bloomingdale's statement, the company is working towards becoming more eco-friendly by installing solar panels, solar lighting and recycling practices in their stores and corporate offices.

For a photo report of the event, visit

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Published 05-04-2009 by Amanda Torres Price

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