Frock of Ages: A History of Eco-Fashion

Eco-fashion as we know it developed in the 1960s thanks to those damned dirty hippies and the burgeoning environmentalist movement. However, the history of sustainable style can be traced back to the 18th century when hand-crafted silk garments were “meticulously cared-for and altered for continued wear,” according to the Museum at FIT‘s Eco-Fashion: Going Green exhibit from two years ago. That exhibit explored the often contentious relationship between fashion and the environment and how it has developed over the past few centuries.


Frock of Ages: A History of Eco Fashion

Defining eco-fashion as “the work of environmentally-conscious designers who use, produce, and/or promote sustainable and ethical products,” Eco-Fashion: Going Green utilized six themes to illustrate the eco-fashion movement: the repurposing and recycling of materials; material origins; textile dyeing and production; quality of craftsmanship; labor practices; and treatment of animals. Thus one learns of both the positive and negative aspects of fashion’s environmental impact.

So take those pencils out of your updo and put on our reading glasses because we’re taking a brief history lesson on the origins of eco-fashion.


This silk brocade gown from 1760 is an early example of sustainability due to its superior quality and the level of care put into it. After all, it’s still around ain’t it?