I finally got around to reading my October issue of Vogue a few days ago. (I also have to note that this was a great issue. I felt the need to say so because I have been having an on-again, off-again love affair with Vogue for the past year and a half. So when I come across a good one, I have to say so). Flipping through the glossy pages, I found a short article called Style Ethics. It talked briefly about how Italian design house Bottega Veneta has responded to their customer’s pleas for more sustainable, non-leather goods.
Everyone familiar with the house knows that they are famous for their leather products. However, they are trying in a very meaningful way to connect with the consumers who are trying to become more ‘green’ (download the PDF here). A PR ploy? Maybe in some facets. But their efforts are commendable in the sense that the process in which they responded to the outcry was thoughtful. ( I also thinks this speaks to the kind of consumers Bottega Veneta has in comparison to a chain like H&M who has taken on a commitment of sorts to conservation, but it still somewhat guilty of green-washing: when a company tries to convince the public that they are being sustainable, but really are not).
The famous fashion house debuted a line of bags that are vegan. They are made from the bark young kozo trees. The art of paper making is a delicate and highly respected art form in Japan.Using these materials and being handcrafted, because it is an art that so few people have mastered makes this business venture not only smart in terms of sustainability, but in the sense that they are employing people who have true talent – not exploiting people to manufacture their products.
I did a little, not a lot, but a little research on young kozo paper making. I was delighted to hear about Bottega Veneta releasing a product that was sustainable, but I was naturally curious and yes, skeptical. How was this a more sustainable alternative? Animals were not harmed to create this bag, which is awesome…but the fight on cutting down trees been going on for awhile. I came across an article in the New York Times that was published in February of this year, talking about a craft man of young kozo paper making (you can read it yourself here).
As I let the facts and the message in the article sink in, I realized that this was not a match between saving animals and saving paper. A commenter noted that in Europe, paper is being made out of recycled clothing, which I found to be interesting. (I haven’t researched that just yet, so don’t take my word on it). Another scoffed at the luxury of owning a piece of paper that was so obsessed over and retorted that they would rather “see ten thousand actual picture books in the hands of ten thousand children than one sheet of this paper and 100 rich babies with i-pads”. Touche. However most of the other comments were more or less appreciative that the delicate art had received some shine.
I reached something of an impasse on the matter of the Bottega Venetta bags. They were sustaining animals by not using them to make this product. I also read in Vogue that the dying process was more ‘green’. However, the truth is, the bags are not sustainable, paper-wise, which in the environmental aspect, is huge. But I look at it this way: to create art, something is always used. There has to be a medium in order for it to exist. If not, it stays in the mind of the artist, neglected from being shared with the world.
To be honest, I am a patron of the arts first and an environmental activist second. This may be morally absurd, but it’s the truth. I respect the thought process and the workmanship behind the bags. This is one of the truest forms of sustainable artistry in high fashion right now, and it deserves to be treated as such. Whatever your views are on fashion and the environment, this is a step in the right direction: both artistically and sustainably.
This is another piece of My So-Called Organic Life
photo(s) source: http://bottegaveneta.com