I have to admit I was more than a little apprehensive to conduct this interview. After all, I care about style and fashion, not hippie hemp clothing. What does any true fashionista know about ecology? To me recycling means reusing my Chinese soup containers as Tupperware. However I was in for a pleasant surprise. Thankfully.
Linda Loudermilk is a name you might not have heard of â€¦yet. If she has her way, you will, or at least the term she has trademarked â€” Luxury Eco. Who knew you could make couture clothing out of bamboo, sea cell, soya and other self-sustaining plants? Not only that, they are breathable, comfortable and even have anti-bacterial properties. Loudermilk recognized she would have an uphill battle when she decided to go from couture clothing designer to ecologically friendly couture designer. â€œA luxury designer might create a piece or two made of organic fibers, but no other designer wanted to touch an entire line of clothing.â€? After all, tree huggers like Woody Harrelson have given recycling and hemp a bad name. Not to mention that you tend to pay double for even eco friendly toilet bowl cleaner at Whole Foods.
When I sat down to interview Loudermilk, she was actually quite cool (read uncrunchy) and was clad in her own funky designs and jewelry (recycled silver). I was relieved to find out she wasn’t always so in tune with the earth. â€œA personal experience I had about 6 years ago lead me to start understanding my connection with nature. Like most people I too was fairly clueless about the environment.”
Earning a degree in costume design from Oxford, Loudermilk spent years as a sculptor. She later realized that fashion design was the next logical step for her so she went back to school for pattern design and draping. After her first designer show she should have been on top of the world, instead she felt unfulfilled. So she packed up her antique lace and left Europe for LA. Loudermilk began designing a t-shirt line out of organic cotton. She knew she would really have to make a statement if her vision to change the way we view usually unstylish eco fabrics was to change. Loudermilk, who draws her inspiration from nature, believes that that this isn’t just a marketing niche, but a matter of survival. Fashion is the perfect platform to talk about the bigger issue, but still have fun without guilt. â€œThese fabrics are as luxurious as those that any woman who wears Fendi or Gucci would demand.â€?
Based in LA, Loudermilk is scheduled to open her first store this September in Melrose, mere blocks from Marc Jacobs. Of course her store will be a green-certified building. Her goal? To create a new market place of high-taste and high-fashion products. Loudermilk also has a line of â€œMust-Havesâ€? that are staple pieces like honeycomb long-sleeves tees that are in the more affordable $100-250 range. In the next few weeks, she is launching her line of stretch organic cotton jeans in 6 styles including boot cut and skinny leg. By the end of this summer she will launch her own e-commerce website where you may not only purchase her clothes, but order other environmentally safe products. Sounds like she is taking over the world? She probably will.
In Chicagoland her designs may be found exclusively at Excentrique at 42 S. Washington in Hinsdale 630.789.5888.
If you would like to do your part, purchase Linda Loudermilk’s â€˜Water is a Human Right’ products like the faucet necklace for $65. A generous donation will be made to the YEW Foundation to support organizations with clean water initiatives. Available at Excentrique or order them at lindaloudermilk.com