Organic denim just the ticket for trendy greens

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am

Eco-friendly jeans will cost more but high-end market is expected to lap up the feel-good factor

The trend of going organic has extended from food to fashion, with organic denim likely to be the next big thing for autumn and winter next year, says a trend expert.

Fashion and style research company Worth Global Style Network predicts people's increasing awareness of environmental and social issues will spur demand for jeans made of organically farmed cotton, making it a big hit for autumn 2007, depending on the availability of organic fabrics.

The company's head of trends Catriona Macnab, who spoke on the opening day of Fashion Week spring/summer yesterday, said only small niche labels and designers were advocating eco-friendly fashion because of the high production costs.

But Ms Macnab said the high-end consumer market would welcome organic fashions.

'It's going to be a long-term trend,' she said. 'Younger consumers are very aware of what we are doing to our planet.'

Ms Macnab said that although big denim manufacturers had not yet bought into the trend, brands such as Levi's were looking into the opportunity. Some had been mixing organic fibre into fabrics.

She said organic denim might not look different from conventional denim but it would give items a raw look.

'But for consumers, they will feel much better psychologically,' said Ms Macnab, adding that the 'in-the-know' factor could give consumers a superior feeling.

According to company research, organic textiles, made of materials farmed without chemicals, first began with T-shirts, lingerie and babywear. Now the trend was extending to denim wear.

Raw organic cotton prices were 25 per cent to 30 per cent higher than conventional products, while at the retail level, garments could be 6 per cent to 12 per cent more expensive. Studies also found that the estimated value of the market for organic fibres last year was US$800 million to US$1 billion, and the market was expected to grow to more than US$1.5 billion by 2010.

Ms Macnab said the production of organic fashion garments was now mainly in Europe and America, but she predicted the trend would arrive in Asia soon. 'The awareness [of environmental issues] is there. The only problem is the availability because at the moment they don't make enough [organic fashion items]. I can also see the manufacturing of such fabrics happening here,' she said.

'American and European designers are fascinated by the east. The tilt of the fashion world is shifting from west to east. The coming 2008 Olympics [in Beijing] will serve as a wake-up call.'

The four-day Fashion Week organised by the Trade Development Council opened at the Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday, with 1,100 exhibitors from 25 countries, up 22 per cent on last year.

The city's exports of clothing and accessories last year grew 9 per cent to $212.2 billion.