Once upon a time in ancient Greece, someone came up with the “chiton.” It was a garment consisting of a single piece of fabric – sometimes imported, but usually locally spun – and it could be worn in a number of ways, like a sarong, that made it suitable for any occasion.
Many are the international designers who have been inspired by ancient Greece: Versace’s logo is the face of Medusa; Karl Lagerfeld used motifs from ancient Greek vases for Chanel; Gucci tried to secure the Acropolis for a show a couple of years ago; and Grecian dresses and leather sandals never seem to completely go out of style – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The latest aspect of ancient handicraft that’s encouraging Greek designers, however, is the sustainable way in which their ancestors created and wore their clothes. As in other societies through history, people in ancient Greece lived and dressed in a more sustainable way than we do today (fast fashion is a relatively new concept, after all). The chiton, the peplos, and the warmer chlamys were all versions of the same idea: a simple garment that could be dressed up or down, in breathable fabric to be worn every day in the heat. What’s more, they were usually woven at home.
Today, brands are drawing inspiration from these ideas and ancient dressmaking. Ergon Mykonos even uses a traditional loom, a direct descendant of the ancient loom, to create some of their fabrics. Other companies are intentionally turning to recyclable or recycled materials – even if that means spending more, or sourcing discarded materials from other industries, such as ripped sails and balcony awnings. Like the styles donned by the ancient Greeks, these are clothes meant to be worn again and again; they’re made expressly so that those who wear them can transition easily and in style from day to evening, and from the office to the beach to the bar. Loose fits, practical in the heat, are a common trait.
Below are the e-shops of some of our favorite Greek designers dedicated to sustainable, ethical fashion:
Famous for their environmentally friendly approach, this brand uses fabric made from 100% Greek cotton, and sources all other materials locally as well, in an effort to achieve both environmental and social sustainability. All garments are created in the company’s atelier in Athens. Some of the fabrics they use are woven on a loom inspired by one used in ancient Greece – this manufacturing technique gives their clothes excellent breathability.
As the latest step in making their production cycle earth-friendly, they have adopted a made-to-order system, eliminating the possibility of stock ending up as waste. Your clothes will now be sewn only after you place your order, but will still be completed within five working days.
Shop Ergon Mykonos here.
Dedicated to slow fashion, Heel intentionally creates small quantities of each garment in their collections, and aims to make designs that are timeless, motivating their customers to purchase fewer items and use them longer. Their designs are flowing and soft, perfect for when you want to look stylish while also feeling comfortable, and the materials are suitable for that as well; 100% organic cotton and other natural fibers are chosen both for the sake of the environment and because they’re kindest to the skin.
Aiming to produce zero waste, the company is continuously producing a separate collection titled “Art Zero Waste” out of the fabric scraps from their regular line.
Shop Heel here.
Vathos Apparel’s sleek clothing can easily be dressed up to create an evening look, or down to be worn on a weekday. The brand promises that their garments are made from 100% certified organic cotton fabrics, sourced from businesses that practice fair trade in an effort to promote social sustainability. Only Global Organic Textile Standard-certified colors are used to dye the fabrics, and all packaging is made from recycled paper.
In addition, as stated on their website, the company takes care to choose delivery options with the smallest possible climate impact.
Shop Vathos Apparel here.
While it’s usually pointless to invest in clothes that will last a long time for the youngest, fastest-growing family members, it is still possible to choose garments made from nature-friendly materials (and, of course, hand them down once they no longer fit). Tiny Toes makes modern clothes for babies and infants featuring a selection of muted colors and bold prints – all made from 100% organically farmed Greek cotton.
All packaging used by the company is also made from organic, recyclable paper.
Shop Tiny Toes here (link in Greek – English version coming soon).
The name of this bag brand reflects the idea behind it: in Athens, three quarters of the apartment buildings are covered by balcony awnings. That, coupled with the fact that those awnings get weathered and damaged and need replacing, creates fabric waste – something that the founders of 3Quarters saw as a sad fact which could be turned into an opportunity.
The bags from this company are made mostly from scraps collected directly from the city’s awning fitting companies, and are hand-sewn in their workshop. Each bag is unique, and takes several hours to make using such tough, water-resistant material. Furthermore, to support their zero-waste philosophy, they repurpose their own scraps, making lunch bags from the pieces left over from a backpack, and bunting from the pieces left over after that.
Shop 3Quarters here.
This Corfu-based brand also saw an opportunity to use reclaimed material in their sturdy, waterproof bags; their bags and luggage are made mainly from old yacht sails. In addition, they use recycled polyester and vegan leather, as well as reclaimed seatbelts and rope.
Discarded sails display various states of wear; Salty Bag manages to embrace any stains, creases or other marks on the material, making them part of each bag’s charm and sometimes adding the words “This was once a sail.” Their minimalistic bags are beachy, yet also just as appropriate to pair with resort wear, or to carry to the tennis club or, obviously, on board a yacht.
Shop Salty bag here.