Living Ind

Chic in Soy

by Mary Tutwiler

New, environmentally sustainable fabrics make it easy to go green.

Photo by Isabel LaSala

Green is the new black. The new silk. The new cashmere. Fashion trends shear with the wind, and right now environmental sustainability is the next new thing. Take the next new fabric for example, one made from food fit for a small planet — soy.

Soy is known for supplying essential amino acids to diets that provide vegetarians with much of their protein. Long ingested in Asia, soy is credited with keeping bodies healthy and faces wrinkle-free. Now, soy proteins spun into fiber are being knit into sweaters and woven into T-shirts, lingerie and bedding and marketed under the labels of high fashion designers.

Robert Comstock was in his 30s when he burst on the fashion scene in the mid-1980s with a men’s collection that included deerskin jackets rugged enough for Hemingway aficionados but soft as butter. He followed with women’s wear, like a white deerskin wedding gown embroidered with turquoise beads in an Indian motif. The beadwork was done by Shoshone-Paiute artisans. Raised in Idaho, Comstock’s designs have always reflected the environment he loves. His success has enabled him to create foundations to aid Native American entrepreneurs as well as endangered species; he founded the Peregrine Fund at the World Birds of Prey Center in Boise, Idaho.

Environmental awareness is stitched into Comstock’s lines. His new sweaters (like the ones pictured from F. Camalo in the Oil Center) are knit of an 85 percent soy and 15 percent cashmere blend. The advantage of soy, beyond its obvious sustainability as a farm crop, is that the fabric is believed to be good for the skin. It’s also antibacterial, resistant to moths, shrink-resistant and feels like silk.

Another naturally friendly fiber making fashion waves is bamboo. A member of the grass family, it needs very little water, regenerates, and can grow a foot a day. Bamboo has a much lighter environmental impact than pesticide-laden conventional cotton and petroleum-derived nylon and polyester synthetics. Nitrogen heavy runoff from U.S. cotton is one of the contributors to the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone. Sweaters by Robert Comstock knit of 100 percent bamboo feel like raw silk — light, warm and delicious close to the skin. All of which makes it easy to wear your environmental heart on your sleeve while making a high fashion statement this fall.

Both fabrics can be found at F. Camalo, 458 Heymann Blvd., in the Oil Center, 233-4984. Sweaters run from $95-$150. Limited edition hand-crafted leather jackets in the Robert Comstock line are available at F. Camalo and Brother’s on the Boulevard, 101 Arnould Blvd., 984-7749. Leather jackets start at $1,200.