EcoJam 2014: Eco-Friendly Fashion | Visual Delights Unfold at May 3 EcoJam Fashion Show

Andrea Acker will present her newest creations at this year’s EcoJam Fashion Show on May 3, 2014.

FAR FROM THE NEW YORK fashion scene, another kind of runway show has Iowa fashionistas buzzing with anticipation. It’s Fairfield’s annual spring EcoJam Fashion Show, an unfolding showcase of visual delight, featuring clothing made with organic, upcycled, and recycled materials. This year’s EcoJam will be held on Saturday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center Expo Hall.

From its start in 1993, the EcoJam has become a tradition for Fairfield and Maharishi University of Management students. Started on a whim by student Belinda Hoole (and joined by Vikas Narula and other students in the Organization for the New Earth), EcoJam quickly became a yearly fundraising event, making it possible to plant thousands of tree seedlings in southeast Iowa. Later, during the 2000s, publicity around the EcoJam and the connected educational event (originally named EcoFair) helped build up the Sustainable Living program at MUM. These days it draws enthusiastic collaborators throughout Fairfield.

The Truth About Clothing Manufacture

The industrialization of clothing manufacture has made current styles and quality fabrics affordable throughout the world. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is also the third most polluting industry in the world. The effect on society from polluting clothing factories has parallels with “trash and burn” fashion design, where a style is tossed after its edge has worn off (H&M and Forever 21 are examples).

The eco approach to fashion is intended to change this, by offering long-lasting,  inspirational designs that incorporate naturally grown fabrics and “green chemistry” designed synthetics.

Local & International Designers

Each year EcoJam extends an open invitation to artists and fashion designers alike to experiment with fashion and materials. On May 3, EcoJam will present the work of a baker’s dozen of talented designers, including Andréa Acker from Brazil and Jared Brown of Fairfield via L.A.

Andrea, who comes from Rio de Janeiro, is excited to share what she has created. “After a trip to India, my heart found the inspiration and theme for my final project in college: The Self: Spirituality and Sustainability,” she says. “The main idea revolves around using vintage silk saris to create new clothes. But besides upcycling, I used some other important sustainable notions for this small collection, such as organic materials—an illustrated cotton t-shirt—and slow fashion—hand-embroidered sanskrit. I love all things handmade and unique, and I see fashion as art.”

jared brown, ecojam, ecojam fairfield

Jared Brown has some surprises in store for the EcoJam on May 3.

Attending various art and design schools in L.A. as “the classic broke college student,” Jared Brown couldn’t afford to buy expensive new materials. “Being a poor college student inspired me to resort to fashion design inspired by found recyclables through dumpster diving,” he says. “I would find materials from thrift stores, remnants from previous projects, anything that I could get my hands on.”

Jared looks forward to sharing his new creations at EcoJam. “Sometimes in life you find yourself in a balancing act of light and dark,” he says. “You put yourself through the wringer to put on a theatrical runway performance that will wow the audience. I love pushing the envelope.”

Fairfield’s Responsible Clothing Stores

EcoJam also inspired the birth of Natural Selections—a local retail store focusing on organic clothing and other socially responsible products, founded by Lonica Eisenbraun and Michael Halley.

“After the EcoJam,” says Lonica, “I was literally taking the clothes off the models’  backs and selling them to the audience. That’s when I knew I had my finger on a trend in eco-conscious fashion that filled a demand in the Fairfield market and beyond. I launched one of the first eco-friendly/organic clothing stores in the nation.”

Since then, Lonica has helped incubate numerous young designers and helped companies transition existing businesses to incorporate organic fashion. “It’s fulfilling to see the designers going out and starting their own lines,” she says.

Blue Fish Clothing, a more recent addition to the Fairfield scene, has become a local fashion production hub after moving its headquarters to Fairfield a few years ago. Blue Fish specializes in organic, unique handmade art, designed and printed in Fairfield and manufactured in the U.S.

“At Blue Fish, we use organic fibers, recycled cottons, and other natural fibers such as hemp, linen, and silk blends,” says founder Jennifer Barclay. “A lot of our buttons are handmade, vintage, or recycled. It’s a step toward a people- and planet-friendly style of clothing. In 1995 we first learned of the damaging effect of traditionally grown cotton on a global scale, and we changed our production habits immediately. We began to use organically grown cotton materials whenever possible. We are happy to do our part to help support a healthier people and planet.”

The Place to Be

Since its inception 21 years ago, EcoJam has grown from showcasing collections at the funky old student union on MUM’s campus to presenting runway shows at the expo hall in the FACC. Last year’s show had an astounding attendance of over 400 people, who filled every seat and left standing room only.

Spring brings us the freshness of new beginnings, including the blooming appreciation of our environment and what we can do to preserve it. Enjoy a preview of EcoJam fashions at the May 2 art walk, then join the talented designers at EcoJam  on Saturday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. Help support sustainability through fashion!     

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