AFROPUNK BLKTOPIA: Green Runway Proves Eco-Conscious Fashion Doesn’t Sacrifice Elegance

July 11, 2024

On Sunday, July 7th, ESSENCE Senior Fashion Editor Devine Blacksher shared a stage with celebrity stylist, designer, and sustainability advocate Amiraa Vainqueur to spotlight emerging designers dedicated to eco-conscious fashion. Fresh off of Menswear and Couture Fashion Weeks in Paris—a city primed to host the most eco-friendly Olympics to date—Vainqueur deals with the constant task of eco-optimizing her clients’ wardrobes. Many of the looks she styled clients Bia and Jordyn Woods were vintage or made-to-order, which allows ateliers to reduce wasted materials, labor, and environmental impact, ensuring that garments are created only as needed. As she and Blacksher explained, the purpose of the Green Runway’s curated showcase was to elevate up-and-coming collections that redefine elegance through environmentalism, demonstrating that high fashion can lead the way in reclaiming Black eco-conscious practices. 

Among the exhibiting designers were Atelier Ndigo, Futura by Dionne, Zevelyn Jean, House of Chelsea B, and Vainqueur’s line Maison Veemode. Models walked out in versatile, made-to-order looks that each applied a different method to environmental product development, exhibiting each designer’s meticulous intention and sartorial individuality. Futura by Dionne, in a steampunk-coded puff sleeve and tailored vest combo look, captured attention with their made-to-order microfiber garments which significantly reduce excess production and waste. Their designs are a testament to how sustainability and high fashion can coexist seamlessly, creating compelling and Instagram-bait-worthy looks through innovative takes on neo-materiality. Meanwhile, House of Chelsea B, founded by Chicago native Chelsea Billingsley, brought a fresh perspective with handmade crochet styles. Their model entered the Green Runway in the “New Bloom” look, a red knit bonnet and dress look from the label’s Spring show. Billingsley’s creations challenge conventional fashion narratives, showcasing the beauty and complexity of handcrafted work.

Zevelyn Jean’s collection emphasized recycled materials, transforming discarded fabrics into high-fashion pieces that told a story of renewal and creativity. Atelier Ndigo was impressed with their use of natural dyes and organic fabrics, ensuring that every garment was as kind to the earth as it was to the eye. Lastly, Maison Veemode, Vainqueur’s line, offered a masterclass in luxury and sustainability. Vainqueur’s designs are characterized by timeless elegance and crafted from sustainably sourced materials, proving that eco-friendly fashion can be both glamorous and ethically sound.

The Green Runway was not just a fashion show; it was a celebration of innovation and commitment to sustainability. Each designer’s dedication to eco-conscious practices highlighted a future where fashion respects both style and the environment, proving that the industry can thrive without compromising our planet.