We know from the marketing gurus that women make the majority of purchasing decisions in their households, and tend to be more sustainable consumers than men, more influenced by ethical considerations. Indeed, as I learned at the recent SOURCE Summit, the ethical fashion market is predominately oriented towards female consumers, targeting medium- to high-income market share.
But perhaps men have been simply left behind by the growing sustainable fashion and luxury markets? I admit that several of my male readers have told me that green stilettos focused too much on women, asking for green-and-glam fashion tips for the boys. Of course, I am too happy to oblige!
At the SOURCE Summit itself, men were few and far between. However those who were there were truly committed, widely diverse and infinitely impressive — from work-from-home dad Alexei Gillard who has founded his Cholesburys handmade ladies’ shoes with their distinct English floral prints, to maverick Pants to Poverty founder Ben Ramsden, who had left a career with Amnesty International to launch his own ethical and sustainable underwear brand.
So while the men’s sustainable fashion market is playing catch-up, here are some eco-luxury offerings that I hope would please gentlemen of style and sustainability.
Vicuña jacket by Loro Piana
A cousin of llamas and alpacas, vicuña lives in the South American highlands. Hunted to near extinction in the 20th century, the vicuña – considered as ‘the fibre of the Gods’ by the Incas – are now protected across their range and international trade in their precious wool is strictly controlled. Loro Piana is one of three companies that have invested in their survival and sustainable use right from the start, and today offers exquisite coats, jackets and knitwear made from vicuña. They do come at a premium price, but I hope you will agree that it is well justified!
Patagonia’s green wetsuit
I have already covered sustainable fashion pioneers Patagonia on green stilettos. The makers of recycled polyester fleeces and organic cotton T-shirts, the company announced late last year that it intends to manufacture the first plant-based wetsuit from guayule—a highly resistant plant which does not require pesticides and is not fit for human consumption, which makes it an ideal renewable biomaterial and a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based neoprene.
Pants to Poverty
OK, underwear may not be a luxury item, but rather a necessity. However if you want undies with a difference, Pants to Poverty can just be your thing. Ben Ramsden launched his underwear brand in 2005 while coordinating the youth movement for the Make Poverty History campaign. The company is one of the leading ethical and sustainable fashion brands, pioneering socially responsible supply chains with fair wages and eco-certified materials suggesting that power is indeed in one’s pants!
Elvis & Kresse Military Messenger Bag
Based in London, Elvis & Kresse is the environmental entrepreneurs duo who gave new meaning to the concept of upcycling. Founded in 2005, the company was chosen as a Walpole Brand of Tomorrow in 2012. The Elvis & Kresse Military Messenger Bag is made from genuine decommissioned fire-hose and has a reclaimed military-grade canvas flap and parachute silk lining. Previously deployed in active duty for up to 30 years, fighting fires around the UK, the hose is perfectly robust for an everyday bag and the full length flap will keep your valuables safe. And needless to say, dressing up as a fire-fighter has never done any man any harm!
Tesla: the zero-emissions luxury car
As far as luxury racing cars go, Tesla Roadster is an exception. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, and it generates zero carbon emissions in the process. Yes, you heard that right: Tesla is the world’s first luxury electric car. It is also a highly coveted one, with waiting lists around the world — the automotive equivalent of a Birkin bag, if you know what I mean. It is no mere coincidence that Tesla was the ultimate object of desire of Harvey Specter, “the best closer in New York City” and major hunk from the hit TV series Suits. Dubbed the car of the future, Tesla is proof that luxury can be both desirable and sustainable.
And if you’d like to get sustainable fashion tips for your sons, I warmly recommend What Boys Wear blog by Australian mom of two boys + baby #3 on the way, from whom I borrow this great quote by Mark Twain: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”