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Grüne grüsse aus Graz
Saturday, 27 September 2008

lederhosen2.jpgWhat does an eco fashionista do in a strange place during a four day CSR conference, with her head full of words, words, words on sustainability? She sneaks out for some fresh air and eco practice on her favorite topic and…………………..actually finds it!

The historic city center of Graz is a UNESCO world heritage site and some buildings hide green shops. In Sporgasse for example, I found The Earth Collection with clothes from hemp and silk/cotton blends. A few doors later, Kukuruz surprised me with accessories made in Nepal and just opposite I shopped bed & bath products at Grüne Erde (Green Earth). But Graz is not only historically interesting in terms of architecture I´ve now discovered. What about the ancient-old handiwork techniques incorporated into traditional costume such as lederhosen and their female counterpart? I thought this way of dressing was something from movies such as The Sound of Music and Sissi. But I´m wrong: colleagues at the conference still wear this stuff during cultural festivities. And the story gets better because lederhosen are a very sustainable option for the farmer’s son in the Austrian mountains. The leather of the pants doesn´t get dirty and is super resistant. Young men often inherit their pair from their father or even grandfather and are therefore very proud of it. It´s the haute couture of Austrian fashion because for a handmade dress or lederhosen ´set´ you easily pay € 700. “Most of the companies who made these clothes are not in business anymore”, a shop owner explains. “After European countries opened their borders, labor was outsourced to other parts of the world. It became too expensive here so our people are slowly loosing the skills to make these clothes”. Looking at the embroidery on the sleeves of a blouse, I feel silly. Isn´t this something I always thought happened only to poor nations? And why did I admire the embroidery in Paraguay so much while I can actually find it around the corner from my own country?

Pondering on these questions I walk back through the beautiful city park. The fact that the clothes are ethical and ecological satisfies my needs for most part. What remains is the question: is it actually fashion? And also what this cute conference moderator from Tirol will look like in his lederhosen…

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