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June 18, 2012

Designers creating biodegradable luxury

As consumers of luxury goods become more educated about socially and environmentally responsible purchasing, we’re seeing a range of brands develop merchandise that is both luxurious and ethical toward people and planet. Now we bring you biodegradable luxury, a new trend in fashion and design items that lets you literally throw them in your compost when you no longer have a need for them.

A gentler solution than piling your stuff into the landfill when it’s too old, worn or outdated, and certainly a buzz-worthy idea, the concept of compostable fashion is intriguing the minds of designers that range from fashion students to big name designers. Here area a few biodegradable luxury items from well-known brands that have caught our attention:

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Gucci Liquid Wood glasses
Gucci announced it will soon release a line of biodegradable sunglasses in a partnership with Safilo. The glasses will be composed of “biodegradable wood fiber, resins, and the polymer lignin,” and will be sold in a variety of styles.

“Consumers today are more and more cautious and look for the real value of the purchased product,” explains Rossella Ravagli, Gucci’s Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility Manager. “They look for a high-level shopping experience and pay increasing attention, not only to the product itself and its material qualities; how it is made, but to the intangible qualities; the way it’s done.”

Gucci has put corporate social responsibility at the forefront of their business in recent years, which has led to environmental certifications and the launch of various eco-friendly initiatives such as packaging made from 100% recyclable paper. Gucci also recently launched a line of biodegradable footwear.

Image via TheUrbn

Stella McCartney biodegradable platform shoes
Another forward-thinking, green fashion designer is Stella McCartney, who in March of this year launched a line of compostable shoes. The vegetarian designer created the sexy, ethical footwear for her autumn 2012 collection, and included several high heels with biodegradable platform soles in the mix.

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Linda Loudermilk’s luxury compostable swimsuits
It takes 180 days — or less — for these Linda Loudermilk plant starch bikinis to biodegrade if they’re buried. It’s a great idea considering the challenges posed when trying to get rid of an old swimsuit — one option is the trash, and another is donating it… but really, who wants a worn out, used bikini? Loudermilk could really be on to something.

Image via cnet

Sustainable luxury fashion made of woodchips

At Kingston University in London, students have begun experimenting with the possibilities of using biodegradable materials to create high end apparel through a University of East Anglia initiative called InCrops. The students were tasked to create fashionable from raw crop materials “to create low or zero carbon fashion,” according to

The MA Fashion course director at Kingston, Nancy Tilbury, further explained that “InCrops’ interest in the luxury sector gave us a steep challenge as many fashion practioners have failed to successfully communicate the relationship between fashion and bio-waste.”

The corset below was crafted from woodchips by student Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse as part of the InCrops challenge. This piece, along with other woodchip fashion she created, which ranged from pants and necklaces to shoes, was even selected to be shown as part of London Fashion Week.

Image via Earth911

Would “biodegradable” be a selling feature for you if you were choosing between two similar products, both equally stylish and of great quality, but only one of which was compostable? Why or why not?