Eco-Chic Has Gone From Hippie to HOT-Damn!
Before American Apparel undoubtedly corners this market, too, be the first on your block to go bamboo. The key to its sustainable applications is its astronomical growth rate. More garden weed than tree, bamboo can grow up to 18 inches a day, reaching a harvestable size within three to five years. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s up to 20 times faster than hard wood trees, which average anywhere between 50 to 100 years to cultivate. Best of all, bamboo absorbs nearly five times more greenhouse gases and produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees, according to some measurements. Did I mention it’s also naturally antibacterial?
SHOWN ABOVE: Jonano eco chic bandeau dress in buff retails for $52.oo at Jonano.com
But before you start recounting the itchy advent of Woody Harrelson-endorsed hemp, heed this mantra: A green aesthetic doesn’t have to mean ascetic. If its texture is comparable to anything on the market, it’s silk – a fact that is not lost on its wide range of purveyors. From bedsheets to bathrobes, camisoles to yoga clothes, bamboo fabric is steadily approaching mainstream acceptance. Take a closer look at some of your favorite retailers’ catalogs. This surprisingly soft fabric-alternative, which is actually a type of grass, not wood, is changing the way several companies think green. Though they may not feature these items on the front page of the catalog, many established stores are tinkering with the prospect of bamboo chic. Among these tentative giants: Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, and Adidas. Even New York mainstay Anthropologie offers a smattering of bamboo products.
Yet despite select retailers' enthusiasm, bamboo has thus far been ignored by most markets. So what’s taking so long? According to Jing, head designer at Juzd Bamboo (pronounced “Juiced Bamboo”) – a new line of urban streetwear made entirely with bamboo fabrics – it boils down to fear. After shopping his brand around to several big name retailers, the overwhelming response was yes on the clothing, no to bamboo. Most claimed that the eco-fabric was a promising yet “untested” prospect.
Jing was undeterred, and the enterprising designer decided to launch his own company, on his own terms. As a matter of personal pride, Jing regards his new label as an attempt to dislodge eco-conscious clothing from the clutches of one small, musky contingent. “It seems like all these other [eco-friendly] lines are designed for hippies, by hippies.” Through a pair of metallic D&G aviators, he shared with The New Agenda his vision for the future of bamboo clothing: “I want to be big like Diesel…but sustainable. These other companies are hollow, superficial. I want some meaning behind my brand, a real philosophy.”
Though there are certainly no hard feelings between Jing and his flower-power predecessors, he sees a future where Juzd offers a stylish alternative to the sack cloth and hemp of yesteryear; in short, a complete paradigm shift. “We have to aim our sustainable clothing to the masses. People don’t buy ugly clothing just to help the environment.” To ensure the highest quality product, Jing sought inspiration from all over the world; from Argentina to the Philippines, Australia to Canada, and he’s assembled a veritable think tank in green fashion. His collaborators range from print and fashion designers to wallpaper and comic book artists; the fruit of which yields a one-of-a-kind design every time.
Best of all, Jing guarantees the moral and fair treatment of all his workers, both locally and overseas in China – a rarely struck balance between ethics and praxis, even for the green industry. He is currently finalizing a deal with Holt Renfrew, a major Canadian retailer on par with Barneys New York, to offer a selection of exclusive Juzd designs. Until then, check out Jing’s original, limited edition T-shirts at juzdbamboo.com.
Still not convinced of bamboo’s bright future? Nothing moves the obstinate like some high-profile celebrity endorsements. According to a recent feature in Us Weekly (oh, the lengths The New Agenda goes to get the hot scoops), Angelina Jolie loves dressing daughter Shiloh in Kicky Pants’ line of baby bamboo clothing. Touting the benefits of naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial properties, it’s no wonder bamboo clothing is raking in celebrity dollars. For even more proof of bamboo’s versatility, the evergreen and always exciting Daryl Hannah offers an eclectic array of bamboo items on her website dhlovelife.com. From her “beauteous bamboo worm-bin” to exclusive “bad-ass bamboo snowboard,” Hannah firmly supports the myriad uses of bamboo – and alliteration.
So if you’re ready to run the full gamut of bamboo couture, gear up with these pioneering brands:
Juzd Bamboo juzdbamboo.com
Juzd is bringing eco-street to the game, complete with slick designer threads. Think Ed Hardy meets Ralph Nader, but iller. Hittin’ your block in late July.
Limited Edition Shirt ≈ $100(Full catalog coming soon.)
Vast selection of bamboo and organic cashmere clothing, in a wide array of colors and styles.
Women’s Top ≈ $35 Women’s Pants ≈ $60 Dress ≈ $70 Skirts ≈ $65
For all your (green) household needs. Check out their silky smooth bath and bedroom collections – all made from a minimum 80% bamboo.
Bath ≈ $3-$29 Bedding ≈ $36-$129 Accessories ≈ $5-$25
Behold – the most adorable, nigh saccharine use of alliteration to ever be uttered: bamboo baby booties. The horror…
Baby Dress ≈ $35 Organic Onesie ≈ $16 Baby Polo ≈ $20 Maternity wear ≈ $35
Bamboo Clothing (U.K.)
Great selection of menswear (even skivvies). Don’t forget to check out their informative FAQ section.
Trim Tee ≈ $40 Polo ≈ $50 Underwear ≈ $16-$20
A stateside alternative to its eponymous U.K. competitor. Update grandma’s penchant for panty-gifting with these intimates. FYI, they sell DIY spools of bamboo yarn.
Sports Bra ≈ $20 Basic Tee ≈ $23 Kids’ Onesie ≈ $13