British designer Mary Quant, a darling of the '60s fashion scene, notes that "fashion, as we knew it, is over. People wear now exactly what they feel like wearing."
Quant, who revolutionized the way we dressed 40 years ago by introducing miniskirts and hot pants, knows what it has taken less iconoclastic designers four decades to figure out: When it comes to style, individuality and self-expression rule the day - particularly if you've embraced the tenets of organic living.
In the new millennium, the fashion world is catching environmental fever as consumer demand for it increases. Today's urbane, eco-conscious casualwear designers are sharing the runways and catwalks with their haute-couture colleagues - and the accent is on comfort. Jeans and a well-fitting T-shirt have become the American uniform, whether you're attending a Midwestern university or making a red-carpet entrance at the MTV Music Video Awards.
Pima Graphic Tank - $ 45.00
When designers Karen Stewart and Howard Brown left Patagonia a few years ago, they formed an eponymous work partnership dedicated to functional, fashionable style. Their Ventura, California-based design studio is ground zero for clothing and accessories made from pesticide-free organic cotton and the finest Mongolian cashmere.
If you can't make it to a Stewart+Brown showroom in New York or Los Angeles, you can click here to find a retailer near you or order select items online from Vivavi.com, such as the women's fitted Treescape Graphic Tee ($55), which features a cornstalk and onion print (don't miss the matching Treescape Tote for $78), or the Pima Graphic Tank ($45), with its cool-as-a-cucumber graphic.
Share your commitment to organic living with the world by flaunting the adorable Broccoli Reversible Purse ($88), created from vegetable prints.
Beneficial T's and Patagonia
When eco-conscious Patagonia started making organic cotton T-shirts for men and women in the mid-1990s, the company started Beneficial T's as a separate division. Each year, half a million pounds of organic cotton are fashioned into tees, tote bags and hats - and the company is run by a "Chief Organic Officer."
Our top picks for women include the Summer Lite Tee ($38), a soft organic knit that's cut on the bias for a contoured fit; the sexy tri-tone Blocker Tank ($28), made of organic cotton stretch knit; and the Purfect Polo ($34), a sleeveless fitted polo with a five-button placket and cap sleeves.
For men, can't-miss organic cotton tees include the Surf Camp T-Shirt ($24), featuring colorful photos taken from the Patagonia catalog; the Underground T-Shirt ($24), with a leafy-green motif; and the Atlantic Salmon T-Shirt ($24), which supports Patagonia's campaign to preserve the country's wild fish.
Loomstate has raised the fashion bar with its 100% organic cotton styles - and when it comes to organic living, the company's philosophy is brash: "People who give a shit are sexy."
Loomstate specializes in trendy jeans, T-shirts and skirts. To find a retailer near you, visit the company's website and click on "Store Finder." To shop for Loomstate apparel online, log onto Shopbop.com, where you'll find jeans constructed of both light-wash denim with moderate distressing and dark denim (from $155 to $175).
If you would like to see more Organic Fashion Finds, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we receive enough requests, we will make this a regular column.