FIT and Eco Fashion

From May 26- November 13, 2010 at The Museum at FIT in Manhattan

Eco Fashion is a hot topic in the world of art and style right now and the exhibit, Eco Fashion, Going Green’s appearance has only affirmed Eco Fashion’s importance in New York City.  The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), founded in 1944 as a part of the  New York State University system, opened a show last week entitled Eco Fashion Going Green at their Textile History Gallery at Seventh Avenue at 27th Street in NYC. This show, organized by Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill is a BIG nod to Eco Fashionistas, Sustainable Designers and Stylists around the world, since its home at FIT broadcasts that Eco Fashion is here to stay. For those of you HVC readers who won’t be able to hit up this exhibit, here’s a brief synopsis to wet your palette. Take a look and then go out there and inspire your local textile, fashion or fine art institution to develop a show based on Eco Fashion. You never know what you can create !

The Museum at FIT ‘s  show is organized in chronological format, with current designers like Stella McCartney, Edun and Bodkin kicking things off as you enter the womb-like exhibition hall, housed across the street from their academic buildings. Upon entry a gaggle of young girls huddled around the sign-in booklet, which was  full considering the exhibit had opened days ago. They were speaking en français, so naturally I inquired to get a sense of their connection to Eco Fashion. They gave me a lovely answer, as they mentioned they were from Montreal. “Sustainability is a big trend worldwide,” one of the girls proclaimed, “so naturally this movement towards Eco Fashion is happening not only in Montreal, but everywhere!” What a nice way to begin the exhibit.

Stella McCartney garments showcased at the FIT Eco Fashion show

Next I made my way by each and every of the over 100 garments that lined the stages of the 3 rooms and span styles from over 300 years. What an amazing experience it was to discover on the normally staid information cards next to each garment, highlighted with a specially formatted iconic system. This meant that every time I read about a garment’s designer, history and origin, I also learned how it fell under one of the six themes within the fashion movement:

  1. Re-purposing and Recycling of Materials
  2. Material Origins
  3. Textile Dyeing and Production
  4. Quality of Craftsmanship
  5. Labor Practices
  6. Treatment of Animals

Each of these themes had a corresponding logo that can be understood by this example of the Stella card.

Description with Icons from Exhibit

The reason I’m taking so much time to describe the exhibit is that I found it incredibly simple, but at the same time wildly well done. The choice to ask the question of how sustainability fits within a system of “planned obsolescence” was a poignant one by Farley and Hill, because it’s predicting the tension that this relatively new element of Fashion. In addition, there was a decade for everyone, which means that there was a relaxed invitation to each viewer, from the young girls who were visiting from Montreal to the white-haired gentleman who grazed by in a custom-made linen suit to come and enjoy the history of Eco Fashion. What a remarkable tribute to the body of work so many designers have shared in the world of Eco Fashion. If you’re lucky enough to be close by this is a show that is not to be missed. And if you do go, let us know what you think!!

Visiting information

The exhibit, Eco Fashion Going Green runs at the Museum at FIT from now until November 13, 2010. Admission is free and hours are:

Tuesday-Friday, noon-8 pm
Saturday, 10 am-5 pm
CLOSED Sunday, Monday and Holidays
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