OP: So what are some of the latest innova-
tions in eco-fashion?
Zaroff: We have always experimented
with all kinds of new fibers and fabrics
to marry eco-fashion with great style.
Some of the fibers I’ve recently looked
at are made from seaweed, eucalyptus,
beech wood—even the cellulose of
milk or cactus. I’ve also seen fibers
spun from lavender, green tea and
sage. One of my projects right now is
to redefine bamboo, which has been
completely mismarketed. It has quickly
risen to the top and become the poster
child of eco-fashion because people associate bamboo with serenity and
health and the plant itself is extremely
sustainable because it grows so quickly
without pesticides. There is great potential but the problem is that the current manufacturing process uses large
amounts of water and energy and requires a lot of chemicals to break down
the bamboo into a soft enough fiber to
spin. I am exploring technologies that
are eco-friendly to work in conjunction
with the bamboo fiber.
Also, we are working with an international organization that has created
the technology to extract the extract
the cellulose fiber from eucalyptus
trees and break it down using a nontoxic recycled detergent—and uses no
chemicals at all. It’s biodegradable,
three times stronger than cotton and
produced in a closed loop system with
minimal energy and water use and no
irrigation needed. It’s also grown without any chemical pesticides or insecticides. I’ve actually redefined this fabric
and coined the term “ECOlyptus” so
that I can start marketing it.
was crazy. Now, whenever I mention organic fashion to a young consumer, I get
this excited, wide-eyed smile. The next generation has grown up with stores like
Whole Foods as their local supermarket and yoga in their gym—there is already
a lot of awareness there. There is also a growing demand for transparency, combined with a sense of disillusionment after living through terrorism, war, corporate disasters and economic failures. Organic fashion gives them the
opportunity to feel empowered and connect with something positive that can
affect the world. It’s about telling that story, and being transparent and authentic while telling it.
OP: Lastly, what is important as eco-fashion goes forward into the future?
Zaroff: I think a lot of the focus has to
be on the next generation, which I’m
really excited about. In the early years
when I first started Under the Canopy,
I used to say “eco-fashion” and the average consumer looked at me like I