Sustainable Designs at Chicago’s Fashion Cafe

June 22, 2009 • Events

In the second installment of Chicago's Fashion Cafe series at the Cultural Center, the theme was based on the present day need to renew and reuse in the face of fashion. The designers featured in the shopping showcase have all dedicated their lines to being "green" by incorporating sustainable materials, producing the pieces locally, and making various other efforts to reduce their carbon footprint while keeping their collections stylish and current.

Designer Elise Bergman (left) with her namesake line of multifunctional separates and wraps. Bergman has used her sewing background to create innovative pieces such as her signature Multi-Wrap (on designer), a panel of fabric that can be draped or worn at least a dozen different ways. In addition to using many patterned vintage fabrics. Bergman also use hand-dyed organic fabrics and recycles her fabric swatches to make necklaces, headbands, and embellishments on her apparel. Bergman's pieces are at Pivot Boutique and Rosalyn, where the designer holds consultations for customizing pieces in her line every Friday.

The racks of vintage goodies, courtesy of Mclamore's Closet and headed up by Brian Mclamore—a former designer and self-proclaimed shopaholic who used his creativity and visions to fuel his own company of reconstructed vintage. Mclamore scours estate sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops to create his one of a kind looks with retro apparel, accessories, and jewelry focusing mostly on styles from the 30s to the 70s. His unique and wildly affordable pieces can be be found at in the Chicago South Shore area and he takes appointments for personal consultations as well.

The literature set out at the table of Pivot Boutique details the various designers the boutique carries that are focused on sustainable fashion including Alice Berry, Covet, Ecoganik, Kate Lerive, Frei Designs, and Fashion Cafe designers Lara Miller, Elise Bergman, and Abigail Glaum-Lathbury. The boutique is located at 1101 W. Fulton Market in Chicago and carries apparel, jewelry and body products bent on being green. One of Pivot's popular items is a darling bracelet made entirely from recycled magazines. They also carry a new line of body products called Beeline that helps rehabilitated convicts assimilate back into society. Most of Pivot Boutique's apparel is made from sustainable fabrics such as bamboo and organic cotton.


Designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury (in her own designs) has an extensive collection of luxe separates that are all geared toward eco-friendly manufacturing. She prides herself on being "car-free", biking herself to and from her Chicago studio which decreases her carbon footprint exponentially. She uses only natural fibers in her line along with non-toxic, water based inks. She also uses natural methods of screenprinting and always cuts her fabrics exactly to order so there is no leftover material to waste. Her sculptural designs, carried in boutique P.45, are focused on the various methods of draping and drafting, like this gorgeous silk top, which maximizes the visual effect of her pieces on the body.


Melissa Baswell, head designer of Mountains of the Moon and her chic, feminine designs. Baswell has been designing for the past decade, focusing on creating eco-friendly glamour in stylish and timeless silhouettes. She enjoys channeling style icons of the 50s and 60s like Audrey Hepburn when designing her flirty dresses and separates,all created locally to reduce environmental hazards. She uses organic fabrics and reuses all her leftover materials from her hangtags to her business cards, creatively styled to be bookmarks with leftover fabric ribbons.

Jewelry visionary Julia Failey supports sustainable practices by creati
ng her jewelry and using
reclaimed, deoxidized sterling silver to reduce the need for
destructive mining. Deoxidized sterling is 92.5% silver alloyed with
tin rather than copper, making it tarnish resistant and easily
recycled. With a passion for wildlife and nature and background in design and gemology, Failey takes cues in creating her pieces from various elements in the great outdoors. Failey's artist statement explains, "My jewelry intends to remind us of the subtle beauty that surrounds us and raise awareness of our connections to our environment."
A panel discussion involving designers Lara Miller and Abigail Glaum-Lathbury focused on the importance of incorporating sustainable fashion in today's market. Between the global environmental issues and the strained economy, utilizing such elements as local labor and recyclable materials, designers can provide beautiful  pieces that will stand the test of time without further damaging the environment.

For more information on check our event calendar or go to The Fashion Cafe Series go to

Photo Source: Second City Style
-Alia Rajput

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3 Responses to Sustainable Designs at Chicago’s Fashion Cafe

  1. This looks like a great event. The accessories and clothes look really nice.

  2. Lauren - Second City Style says:

    Great coverage!

  3. Hi,
    I was just passing by to your blog and found great things i would love to share it with my wife.

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