Eco luxury

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am

Natural materials and waste products make fashion statement

There are the rubber tappers in Venezuela, the women villagers in the Philippines and the ragpickers and scavengers of New Delhi. All of them struggle to make a living, and have had their culture and society radically changed over the past decade.

But they have more in common than that. All are involved in co-operatives that produce fashion products out of natural materials or waste that have given them wages, maintained their dignity and helped protect their lifestyle and culture.

Three women are coming to the APLF, two of whom will be giving a seminar on Wednesday called Eco Luxury: Experiences from the Philippines and Brazil.

Vicky Vizcarra Amaligan got together with a group of women villagers to produce handbags weaved out of grass in the Philippines. Elsewhere, Brazilian businesswoman Angela Hirata teamed up with impoverished rubber tappers to produce luxurious but comfortable Brazilian flip-flops or Havaianas.

And then there's Anita Ahuja, from India, and her company Conserve which has received widespread media coverage. Ms Ahuja and her scientist husband found a way to recycle plastic bags that are thrown away in New Delhi every day and make them into high-end handbags, beach totes and accessories including necklaces.

Experimenting with various colours, Ms Ahuja's company - which works as a charity - produced a livelihood for a sector of society that is largely ignored, while at the same time showing how science and some savvy can produce beautiful fashion items.

'This is the first year that we will have an eco-luxury zone,' said Perrine Ardouin, senior event manager of the APLF.