Now Showcase Debuts in Paris

Regardless of whether you are an ardent follower of sartorial comings and goings, there is a possibility that news of upcoming fashion week events just might coax you to venture beyond your winter lair. Seasonal runway presentations can definitely be a turn off to those who are rightly critical of the waste generated from the perpetual shedding of must-have designer collections. If this is your point of view, we might have a cure for what ails you. One fashion event that consistently rises above this cloud of cynicism is The NOW Showcase, held bi-annually in NYC.

NOW’s co-founders Eileen Moran, Raina Blyer, Nina Valenti, and Marcus Hicks have been working diligently for the past several years to highlight and promote some of the brightest names in sustainable style. For the first time ever, this dynamic team will be showcasing a selection of U.S fashion labels at So Ethic/Prêt a Porter Paris during late January. We caught up with Eileen, a respected fashion veteran to find out why NOW will be a key addition to So Ethic.

JAI collection by Kizzy Knight

NOW’s organizers and designers work collaboratively each season to cultivate a devoted community of buyers, editors, and eco fashion followers. The bi-annual gathering in NYC’s Chelsea district is a trend-defying occasion to generate dialogue about the aesthetic and ethical mission of sustainable fashion and retailing. In this continued progressive spirit, NOW Showcase  2011 Paris will be featuring original collections by Ailin activewear; ARTAYA jewelry; Fleabags; heidiroland jewelry; JAI and JAI Activewear by Kizzy Knight; and Kelly Lane. These U.S-based designers demonstrate a range of innovative approaches to resourceful design, from the recycling of cast-off studio materials to the incorporation of slow fashion textile techniques – as in the case of Kizzy Knight of JAI, who uses fruits and vegetables to hand-dye garments into sumptuous hues of delectable goodness.

We chatted with Eileen to find out why the timing is right for NOW to  jump into the ethical fashion scene in Paris. She had this to say as a three-year veteran of promoting sustainable fashion and style:

“I first attended Prêt à Porter Paris in 2008 and was very impressed with how many incredible designers from a variety of countries were showcasing ‘their take’ on ethical fashion, particularly gorgeous Brit-designer collections like Ciel and Enamore. I was curious, though, about why there were so few eco designers from the U.S participating. Since starting up NOW Showcase in NYC three years ago, our community of individuals committed to working fairly and sustainably has grown exponentially. It’s amazing to see. The designers that we have invited  are a dynamic and diverse sampling of what the U.S has to offer right now.”

For the record, Eileen also shared that So Ethic is an essential stopover for buyers from specialty stores, multi-branded retailers, mixed concept stores and international department stores such as Merci, Dupleks, Bazar Ethic, Ana Maria, and Green in the city, to name a few. I visited both Merci and Green in the city this past December, and they are genuine oases for chic, design-savvy essentials.

Fleabags limited-edition, sustainably chic tote

The six featured designers at NOW Showcase Paris cover a range of eco fashion attitudes with their unique offerings of ethical handbags, jewelry, women’s ready-to-wear, outerwear, and accessories. Fleabags limited edition, vintage style totes offer a fresh take on the luxurious carry-all, and the hand-written edition number makes them all the more American in the branding of the (fair) work ethic spirit.

Recycled materials cuff by ARTAYA/Dana Ayanna Greaves

I was particularly intrigued by the decoupage quality of ARTAYA jewelry. Not all “creative-repurposing” measures up as covetable fashion, but these colorful designs by designer Dana Ayanna Greaves make great accent pieces. Similarly heidiroland jewelry breathes new life into re-purposed leather and found objects with handcrafted accessories that speak to the creative spirit of organic keepsakes.

Kelly Lane’s use of eco-friendly fabrics and her support of fair-wage garment workers in NYC illustrates her determination to make a family business out of creating beautiful, wearable designs. Compassion also abounds in Erin Bell’s Ailin label, with her environmentally friendly apparel and outerwear designed for female climbers, surfers, skiers, riders, runners, yogis and explorers.

Now Showcase at So Ethic/Prêt a Porter will be on view in Paris from January 22nd through the 25th. Contact their website for details and visitor registration.

Stay tuned for our detailed coverage of Now Showcase 2011 in NYC in late February.

Top Image, courtesy of Ailin