The Skinny on Green Models: Size 10 Still a Cut Below?


Is a fuller figure feasible in the world of haute hemp?

It’s a question that has been nagging at me ever since seeing Bahar Shahpar’s last few ready-to-wear collections. Sure, leggy is cool, but can’t Shahpar offer up vegans with more meat on their bones?

The eco fashion pioneer has separated from the dyed-in-the-wool pack by spinning unbleached raw materials into edgy urban street wear. But when it comes to body types, her models tend to appear as gaunt and ghostly as the ubiquitous runway scarecrows favored by the ungreen.

“I think looking healthy is key, and yes, that means more meat on one’s bones than a typical runway model,” observes EcoSalon Fashion Editor, Amy DuFault, who has kept a constant pulse on the garb revolution for the website and runs her own eco boutique called Shift. “We have to keep in mind, when we see a runway show we want to see beautiful women, not my next door neighbor with four screaming kids, but when it comes to this new beauty, it’s all about freshness and maybe even (gasp) fun!”

Perhaps nothing is more fun than Gary Harvey’s salvaged couture evening collections, but his models still seem to be following the Devil Wears Prada credo of living on a cube of cheese a day to squeeze into sample sizes. Fun isn’t a constant state of famished!

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Like Amy, I always assumed designers flaunting green as the new black would make allowances for models hired to walk the sustainable runways of the world. Not limited to size zero convention, starving artists of the fashion underground might order up robust vegans with ample thighs to showcase their visions, real women sans the sculpted cheekbones, chemically altered tresses or sharp angled back bones protruding from halter dresses a la Holly Go-Extra-Lightly.

“Have you ever personally related to the goth girl with demon eyes and skeleton legs?” asks DuFault. “It’s just not reality. When we see fresh new faces and bodies representing eco fashion, they are healthy and relatable. I mean, with a little organic make-up, daily yoga and a trainer, anything is possible.”

DuFault points out that eco fashion in general refers to a “new consciousness” that we have the clothes we wear and how we relate to fashion, and that several designers are stepping up to the fuller plate as witnessed in The Green Shows during New York Fashion Week.

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Upcoming designers like Lara Miller, Bodkin and Tara St. James choose models with a look more in line with upscale alternative sportswear and couture. “You see this forward look about them but still, something inherently natural and pretty,” says DuFault.

Perhaps most forward of all is the move towards plus-size green fashion (which really just means size 6+4=10). Normal size women also want planet-friendly frocks, and sites like Green Gretchen provide sources of lines that carry XL sizes or go up to sizes 12 and beyond, from Lola and Gigi boutiques to collections of plus size designers like Diane Kennedy and Chloe Angus.

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As Gretchen puts it: “For smaller, independent designers, it’s very difficult and sometimes cost prohibitive to add an extra size to their collection, but many are doing it and making most of their pieces available in XL’s. Hopefully, the day will come when more designers will create plus-size eco friendly collections, and by this I mean not just upsizing their regular collections but really designing for the larger sized woman.”

Perhaps, too, the day will come when they will wean their green and lean models and showcase vibrant and fit torsos, like ours – you know – the folks who actually fork over the cash for the clothes. After all, good bones are like good bodices: In the eye of the beholder.

Images: Green by Design;  Treehugger; Laura Miller

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.