Design by Lara Miller
Photo: Meaghan O'Neill,
In the past, eco-fashion brought to mind an image of an oversize hemp poncho resembling a potato sack. Now, the picture is a sexy open-back dress made from luxurious raw silk organza and a ruffled skirt created with ultrasoft wild-harvested bamboo.
For the first time, New York Fashion Week hosted a two-day event for eco-fashion designers called the GreenShows Eco-Fashion Week. A select handful of eco-fashion designers showcased their ethically sound, sustainable styles on a stage made of recycled, compostable material. From the energy-efficient lighting to the eco-friendly hair and makeup products, the GreenShows was environmentally sound.
Lara Miller was one of the designers handpicked for the GreenShows, a Chicago-based designer who created her spring 2010 collection with materials like organic cotton, hand-loomed wild-harvested bamboo, raw silk organza and recycled cotton fibers.   

Go behind the scenes with Miller at Fashion Week. Watch  

Along with being green, Miller is known for garments that can be worn in multiple ways—many of her dresses can be twisted, wrapped or flipped around to give the garment an entirely different look.

As an environmentally-conscious person in her everyday life, Miller naturally gravitated toward eco-fashion. The problem she found with synthetic fibers is that they are often made with plastics and take an abundance of energy to produce. "The amount of water that needs to be used, the amount of waste that goes back into the system ... once you start reading about some of these things, it's pretty scary," she says.

Learn more about eco-fashion and see Miller's collection. Watch

Even a simple cotton T-shirt can be hard on the environment because of the amount of water and pesticides needed, Miller says. "[But] Hemp, linen and bamboo grow quickly, without pesticides and with little water," she says. "They're sustainable fibers that are good for the soil, the land, and turn into really beautiful textiles."
Bamboo dress by Lara Miller
Lara Miller Spring 2010 collection
Several years ago, it was hard to find eco-fashion in stores, aside from a pair of bamboo socks. Now, Miller sells her designs in more than 40 stores across the country, and stores like Target, H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York have embraced eco-friendly fashion lines. 

Although manufacturing eco-friendly fashion is a cause Miller feels strongly about, it isn't exactly economically friendly. Miller says materials like organic cotton and bamboo can be expensive because they are hard to find. "Silk is actually the least expensive fiber I work with because it's already so popular," she says. As eco-fashion gains popularity, Miller says she expects prices to get better—for both designers and shoppers.

If you can't find eco-fashion in stores near you, Miller says there are other ways to be green. "I really think there is something to be said about investing in pieces you feel really strongly about versus buying 20 throwaway garments from Target—and then literally throwing them away into a landfill."

Learn more about eco-fashion and see for yourself how chic green can be Watch

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