Manufacturers bank on ecology chic

November 26, 1992|By Mary Gottschalk | Mary Gottschalk,Knight-Ridder News Service

Rising and falling hemlines provide fodder for fashion debates, but when it comes to sales it seems more and more manufacturers and retailers are banking on ecology.

O Wear is the latest entrant in the ecology-chic arena, joining others such as Earth Age, Wearable Integrity, Ecosport and Esprit's Ecollection, now in its second season. If you already guessed that the "O" in O Wear stands for organic, treat yourself to another piece of Rainforest Crunch nut brittle.

The organic cotton pieces for men and women are basic in styling, but offer brighter colors than most of the other ecology-minded lines, which often emphasize the colored cotton, organically grown in shades of brown, green and blue.

O Wear includes some bright colors such as forest green and garnet red, achieved with non-toxic dyes.

Prices start at $30 for a T-shirt that goes beyond basic, with a triangular inset at the neckline giving it an interesting style twist. Top-of-the-line prices are just under $100 for jackets.

North Carolina-based O Wear now has boutiques, with display fixtures made from recycled plastic and cardboard, exclusively at selected Macy.

Another new item for the environmentally obsessed is the U.S. Roads shoe line for men, which uses recycled tires for the rubber soles.

The leather in the shoes is vegetable-tanned, a more environmentally friendly method than traditional tanning techniques, which often use toxic substances or acids.

U.S. Roads shoes are named after famous roadways. A low-cut, lace-up oxford is $89.95; a half-boot is $94.95 and a 10-inch high boot is $120. They're guaranteed for 2,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first.

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