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Knitting / Apparel

It's A CLASS Act

New showrooms and libraries in New York City, London and Milan present sustainable textiles and concepts for home and apparel.

Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

S ustainable fashion doesn't have to be basic and boring. Innovative fabrics are coming onstream that are high-quality, high-performance, and comfortable to wear. Resources can be found at the C.L.A.S.S. (Creativity, Lifestyle And Sustainable Synergy) libraries in New York City, London and Milan.

Launched in Milan in 2007, C.L.A.S.S. was co-founded by Italian textile consultant Giusy Bettoni of GB Studio in Milan and Scottish textile designer Sandy MacLennan of East Central Studios in London. Both have extensive experience working in the fibers industry. Bettoni has been associated with Imperial Chemical Industries, DuPont and Invista. MacLennan's clients have included Tencel and Woolmark.

Rianne de Wittek designed this organic wool sweater coat.

Bahar Shahpar, head of the New York operation, is co-founder of The Four Hundred, a sales showroom and brand development agency focused on high-end sustainable fashion.

C.L.A.S.S. showrooms focus on sustainable fabrics and findings. In addition to market fabrics, development fabrics and concepts are shown with information on where they can be produced. The ranges go from gutsy bottomweights and intricately woven or knitted suiting styles to fabrics for casualwear, performancewear and sheer novelties. There are fabrics for the home as well as apparel. Currently, about 300 fabrics are in the range, all produced by about 30 C.L.A.S.S. partners.

All fabrics are knitted or woven using natural or recycled man-made fibers. Linen, wool, organic cotton, silk, hemp and bamboo are among the natural fibers. Other developments include fabrics derived from natural resources such as wood pulp, milk, seaweed and corn; or from recycled polyester or nylon.

Partners in this venture range from international fiber producers and spinners to weavers and knitters, primarily from Europe and Asia. Italian spinners include Filati Maclodio S.p.A. and  Filpucci S.p.A. Yarns are spun from organic cotton, wool, recycled cashmere, milk and wood pulp; and dyed and finished using eco-friendly processes. Another Italian yarn company, Torcitura Lei Tsu S.r.l., has new biopolymer filament yarns. Italy-based Euromaglia, Fantasie Tricot S.r.l., and Pontetorto S.p.A. are some of the knitters involved.

Worsted wool specialists Gruppo Botto, Italy, have knitted and woven wool fabrics along with bamboo and silk fabrics that are eco-dyed and -finished. There are techno fabrics and fleeces from Pontetorto, silks from Serikos S.p.A., Italy, and denim fabrics from Italdenim S.p.A., Italy.

Japanese participants include Inkmax by Itochu Corp., which offers a range of eco-friendly nanoparticle dyes and printing inks for ink-jet and screen printing; and Jetro.

One high-end US knitter, Jasco New York, is considering participating in C.L.A.S.S. with its Jasco Eco collection. The company is showing a wide range of knitted fabrics including organic wools and cottons, and blends with bamboo and viscose.

January/February 2009