"If you don’t know what’s in your knickers, should you be wearing them?," asks a short film showing this week at Paris’ lingerie show, the globe’s premier underwear event.
After food, cosmetics and street clothes, the shift to organic has finally hit lingerie — the cutting edge of female seduction that cannot stand the slightest compromise on style.
Go green baby
“Green is out of the closet," said Karine Lebreton of trendspotters Promostyl. “Green is glam.”
Long seen as frumpy, dowdy and dull, eco-friendly lingerie is hitting shops in the form of sexy satin or silk bras and briefs, and
other lacy bits and pieces.
“People think eco is hemp or granola-looking,” said British designer Jenny White of lingerie firm Eco-Boudoir.
“We make eco sexy,” said the founder of the two-year-old firm that sells to top department stores such as Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and Le Bon Marche.
Her eye-catching undies, featuring sultry reds and blacks, ranged from tiny briefs to structured bras and spicy eyemasks — in organic silk, cotton, bamboo or lenpur, a new textile fibre made from white fir wood pulp.
“People should know what’s in their knickers because the textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world,” said White, who produced the campaign film, at the lingerie fair, highlighting the ugly side of undies.
There was no seductive ethical lingerie. A pair of pants, it says, produces 18 kilogrammes of CO2e, the standard measure of carbon footprint, while 20,000 litres of water are used to produce every kilogramme of cotton. “I care about the planet,” said 32-year-old White. “I eat organic food, I use organic cosmetics, I wanted to set up a company without trashing the planet. I want to wear things that are ethical and beautiful.”
But of all fashion items, lingerie is the most difficult to make, often requiring some 30 different bits of fabric. So no wonder manufacturers have hesitated to add to the sale price by going for the organic which adds to the cost.
“I think all manufactures are beginning to do what is necessary to marry their style with organic considerations,” said Jina Luciani, of the French firm Occidente.
“Now we not only have organic cotton but also organic satin and lace, and we’re looking at organic elastic,” said Luciani, adding that her 100 percent fair trade underwear and loungewear are aimed at women who care about the planet but want to be chic too.
“There was no seductive ethical lingerie available for such women,” she said. “Yet organic fabrics are soft and comfortable on the skin.”
So is eco underwear here to stay, and will it hit the mainstream?
“This is more than just a niche market,” said Florence Peyrichou, the lingerie specialist at trendspotters Promostyl.
“After all these years of flourish, excess, extravagance and bling-bling, people want a return to simplicity, softness and natural well-being ....This is a trend that will grow with time.” Florence sounds confident.