By Lily Corcoran
With New York Fashion Week’s spotlight firmly focused on neon colours, I think it’s safe to say neon is the new beaming trend to come out of Fashion Week. Countless models strutted their brightly coloured dresses on the catwalk, welcoming dazzling yellows, oranges and pinks back to the fashion scene.
We want the eye-catching splash of colour in our wardrobes, but is it possible to get our hands on this sustainably?
Is neon sustainable?
We’ve seen a few brands that stock these fabulous colours and claim that certain elements are made with eco-friendly fibres. However, if the stuffing of a jacket is eco-conscious, what about the colourful outer layer? The dyes and fabric that make neon neon aren’t renowned for being environmentally friendly. A lot of sustainable brands tend to use naturally derived dyes, which means they tend to stay away from flashes of neon.
So, the verdict: neon clothing isn’t made from sustainable fabric or dyes.
Neon garments are most commonly made out of polyester and other synthetic fabrics. This is because they dye isn’t reactive with (it doesn’t really stick on) more natural fabrics like cotton and silk. What’s more, using fluorescent pigments brings with it a greater health risk in factories, meaning clean-up time is longer in order to prevent the risk of contamination. Because of the chemical nature of neon dyes in particular, the vibrancy of the colours can be impacted by things like heat exposure and of course what fabric they’re applied to.
To get a bit more scientific, the bright colours produced by neon dyes are a result of fluorescence. If you wanted to sport similarly bright clothes but without using neon dyes, this would essentially mean getting rid of that familiar fluorescence unique to neon. Either way, super bright dyes are derived from chemical processes and therefore are not considered sustainable.
How to wear neon sustainably
So, is it possible to wear neon and still be sustainable?
London Fashion Week designer, Harris Reed, curated all his 10 looks exclusively from second-hand clothes from Oxfam. It’s nothing short of revolutionary that clothes recovered from charity shops can make it to the catwalk.
As we know, giving pre-loved clothes a second lease of life means we rescue perfectly good garments from landfill. It’s a win-win-win: we get the satisfaction of stumbling across some neon in a charity shop, partake in the neon craze sustainably, and help reduce waste along the way!
Alongside charity shops, reworked fashion brands are another great option. You may have read about some of our favourite brands that focus on upcycling clothes, and they all offer colourful, reworked clothes to make your style a bit more interesting. Coralie Marabelle and 1 Off Paris are great brands to check out for our European readers, and Sami Miro Vintage has got edgy, unique dashes of colour figured out for our US readers.
There are, of course, sustainable brands out there that provide that pop of colour, although they might not be quite as blinding as neon. Be sure to check out this article to discover some colourful accessories and everyday staples to help you keep your colour in the darker months and channel the new neon trend in your own way.
Trends themselves are circular in a sense: we see them cycle back around every few years. In this way, it’s logical that we hold onto our trendy items so we’re ready to jump back on the trend when it comes back around. Of course, if you’re hit by some Marie Kondo inspiration and want to clear out your closet, donating old clothes to charity shops is definitely far better than throwing them away. And, who knows, your clothes could end up on the runway next season!
Neon orange and pink
So, while this fresh-off-the-rack new trend might be difficult to source among your favourite sustainable fashion brands, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on some glowing glam sustainably! There are plenty of charity shops, second-hand marketplaces and eco-conscious brands that focus on upcycling scraps to make sure you can find something dazzling. With several sustainable options out there, it’s certainly not necessary to support fast fashion suppliers just to stay aboard a new trend.
Has NYFW’s neon display caught your eye? Let us know what you think of this daring new trend by dropping a comment below or getting in touch with us on Instagram! As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!
This article may contain some affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, KeiSei Magazine receives a small percentage of the sale price, or some brands may have paid a small fee to be featured. We only recommend brands that match our sustainable and ethical criteria and that we truly believe in.