Are haute couture garments sustainable?

By Maria Angella Fortich Fraija

Haute Couture is the term for haute couture in French, it refers to the creation of exclusive garments tailored to the customer . Their designs are made by hand , manually, with little intervention from sewing machines; their fabrics must be of the best quality and are often very expensive and unusual. The design process can take months in its production, therefore, these garments are treated and seen as an art exhibition limited to 10 pieces per garment, which makes their cost very high.

The little history of Haute Couture

In the 18th century, in France, garments were very cheap, but they came in very imprecise sizes. The only people who got the clothes they wanted and with the perfect fit were people close to the monarchy and monarchs. At the end of the 17th century, Marie Antoinette came to Versailles to marry Louis XVI and from there, the extravagance began. Marie Antoinette refused to wear the traditional corset of the time, her wigs were getting bigger and she added feathers or diamonds to her hairstyles. If it wasn't the best of the best, she didn't want it. But, his financial irresponsibility and his addiction to fashion for the revolutionary France in which he was, was considered a betrayal of the people and cost him his life.

In the year 1845, the British Charles Frederick Worth moved to Paris inspired by finding a solution to the mass production that began to occur at the time due to the creation of sewing machines, and that is how it occurred to him to return to artisanal fashion, creating unique pieces made to measure for each client, for this reason, he became the father of haute couture .

Haute couture and sustainability

Haute couture seeks excellence and quality in the manufacturing process of each of its garments. Being a piece of art, it is sought to last and be admired by all for a long time, therefore, the consumption of clothing is reduced.

If you are talking about haute couture, Ronald Van der Kemp should be mentioned , as he was the only designer to pioneer sustainability in the Haute Couture industry. In all its collections, it seeks to make its public aware of excessive consumption and fast fashion. In each of his garments, he shows that we must know the origin of the garments we wear and how they affect the environment. In addition, the designer's mission is to communicate that ethical fashion can also be exciting and dazzling, since sewing can change behavior and the way consumers relate to the industry.

However, we must bear in mind that the haute couture model in fashion is not enough to fight against global warming; For this, all the materials involved in the process are required to be ecological, sustainable and circular.

Ethical and labor commitments of haute couture with the environment

  1. The future of haute couture is collaborative and must work as a team

Haute couture is a heavy work environment and requires many hours of teamwork to be able to embroider and create a unique and incomparable piece on the market, therefore, recognition must be given to all the people who were involved in the process.

  1. Sustainability is in the DNA of the new generations

More and more we can realize the attack that the most traditional brands make on the environment and how new designers seek better alternatives to mitigate ecological damage with the power to continue creating extraordinary pieces.

  1. Suprareciclaje or upcycling is the best ally of surrealism

By recycling classic pieces from other collections we can produce new garment options and incorporate the vintage touch to cause nostalgia and technical surrealism on the next catwalks.

  1. Science, environmental awareness and the new digital age are applicable to the Haute Couture industry

With the new technologies, the designs of the fabrics or prints are increasingly better, if used properly they can become the best allies in building a circular haute couture.

  1. Sustainable fashion must be attractive and modern

So that consumers can continue buying their artistic garments with the highest quality standards, without the need to hurt planet Earth.

The art of haute couture is very expensive and it is not for all fashion lovers, therefore, its social consciousness goes towards its main consumer who are the socialite. These people, who have all the money in the world, could use it to mitigate the damage caused to the environment and speak from their privilege to help communities that have been ecologically affected.

The beauty of this art is not discussed, nor are the changes that are often made to consume Haute Couture in a more eco-friendly way. But, if the excessive consumption of the people behind these works and their unwillingness to help planet Earth is discussed.

As long as there are designers like Van der Kemp who care about the environment and the impact of their work on it, we can be sure that haute couture will continue to evolve towards being more eco-friendly.

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