Kent State University Museum explores Earth-friendly style in ‘Sustainable Fashion’ exhibit
Palomo-Lovinski, an associate professor at Kent, curated the exhibit called “Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox.” It includes clothing from designers such as Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, as well as lesser-known labels like Alabama Chanin, an Alabama company that uses organic cotton and local seamstresses and repurposes its scrap material in a line of home-decor items and furniture.
What: “Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox”
When: Wednesdays through Sundays, through March 18, 2012.
Where: Kent State Museum, 515 Hilltop Drive, Kent.
Tickets: $5, general admission; $4, seniors; $3, students and children.
Hours and information: Click here or call 330-672-3450.
Other exhibits: “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for the Stage and Screen,” through Sept. 4; “Beyond Fashion: Fiber and Fashion Art by Vincent Quevedo,” through Feb. 12, 2012.
“Few of us know where our clothes come from,” said museum director Jean Druesedow. “We need to think about what we wear and think about the decisions we’re making.”
Nearly every aspect of fashion hurts the environment, Palomo-Lovinski said. Polyester is made from crude oil, while growing cotton requires pesticides and robs the soil of nutrients. Organic cotton skips the chemicals but needs large quantities of water and has a smaller yield, so farmers have to plant more.
Manufacturers use chemicals to print, dye or bleach clothes and use massive amounts of fuel to ship the products back to the designer.
“When you take them home, that’s where most of the pollution happens,” Palomo-Lovinski said. “Most detergents have enormous amounts of chemicals, then you use a lot of water to wash them. More washings mean the clothes last less, then they eventually wind up in landfills.”
Supporting Earth-friendly fashion doesn’t mean you’re stuck wearing potato sacks.
Leanne Marshall, of “Project Runway” fame, used organic materials in her dresses, left, center, on display at Kent State University’s museum. Leroy & Perry’s tank and pants combo, right, is made of silk linen and organic cotton.
The pieces Palomo-Lovinski assembled for the exhibit are wearable and attractive, like a vegetable-dyed gray hemp silk dress by Rogan Gregory and a light gold Calvin Klein dress and belt made from pina silk, a material that comes from pineapples and is biodegradable.
The exhibit also includes wall graphics on how often Kent students wear, wash and throw out their clothes, as well as a map of the world with brightly colored arrows showing the route a pair of jeans takes before it lands on a store shelf. (“The zipper is from one country, and then it’s assembled somewhere else, and then it travels on again, so the carbon footprint is nuts,” Palomo-Lovinski said.)
Many consumers are unaware of the effect clothes manufacturing has on the environment, Druesedow said, and that’s why the exhibit is important.
“We hope everybody will think about these things and start looking twice at what they buy and how they live,” she said.
Whether it’s buying an organic cotton T-shirt or simply line-drying clothes, Palomo-Lovinski said, “a little bit is better than nothing.”