Thursday, April 17, 2008


Dressing for a Warm Climate by:Thomas Francis

Kyra Jachode is no fool. She can see past South Florida's SUV-clogged freeways, past its landfills and pollution-degraded Everglades. Someday, she thinks, even the clothes horses who gallop between the Galleria and the Aventura Mall will be inspecting labels not for trendy names but for trendy — and eco-friendly — fabrics.

OK, so that future may be a long way off. Fortunately Jachode only just turned 21. She recently won a berth in the South Florida Student Designer Competition, becoming one of six invited to show original designs to the international audience that gathered for last Wednesday's opening night of Miami Fashion Week.

Jachode chose a babydoll dress and matching vest, both made of hemp, bamboo, and silk, with wooden buttons in back sewn with Egyptian cotton. None of those oil-based synthetic fabrics such as polyester. And no materials from Indonesian sweatshops.
"When I started researching eco-friendly materials, it led me to bamboo and hemp, and that led to learning about fair trade and environmentally conscious manufacturing," the young Fort Lauderdale designer says.

This keep-it-real sensibility led her to name her ready-to-wear line, "Ergostalio: Organic."
There's a booming international market for clothing with eco-snob appeal, but it's yet to wash ashore in the Sunshine State.

"Florida is behind in being environmentally conscious," says Jachode. "There are a couple of boutiques which specialize in [eco-friendly attire], but they have to sell through the internet to international customers." After Jachode graduates from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale next month, she'll prepare a debut collection for the Scarlet Affair in Fort Lauderdale, followed by a ribbon-cutting for her own internet boutique. Then it'll just be a matter of waiting. As the polar icecaps melt and the Atlantic Ocean begins swallowing the mainland, sales are bound to improve.

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