Green fashion gets a rock-n-roll makeover

Who would have expected a brand from Toronto to give eco-style a couture streetwear overhaul?

For the biker in all of us
Introduced with a spring 2006 collection, Chopper Couture brings California's celebrity embellishments to the average green consumer. This look is achieved by blending motorcycle culture and tattoo graphics with sustainable fabrics and Swarovski crystals.

When first establishing the brand, Chopper Couture focused on sustainable shirts made from bamboo. The company's website widely touts the fabric's green benefits. It's naturally biodegradable, anti-bacterial, prevents odours and the plant itself is fast growing and doesn't require replanting. Of course, we can't forget just how soft bamboo is -- as soft as the most expensive cotton. It's often compared to cashmere.

Branching out
Since their first collection, Chopper Couture designer Irene Zingenberg has expanded the line and started to use organic cotton and lyocell (also called Tencel), made from wood pulp. Irene also employs an eco-friendly hand-screen printing process that is free of chemically harmful PVC and phthalates for the Chopper innate designs. All of the brand's garments are designed and produced in a fair-trade environment in the Toronto area.

Talkin about an eco-revolution
Not just one to talk the talk, Chopper Couture is also a part of the United Nations affiliated Fashion Fights Poverty non-profit program. Now in its third year, FFP has blossomed into one of the largest fashion fundraisers in Washington D.C. The event has two functions. First, FFP recognizes designers and brands that help to address poverty by following principles of fair trade production and use of sustainable materials. Second, as a marketing campaign, FFP connects ethical designers with consumers, showing the average shopper that being stylish and sustainable now goes hand-in-hand, thanks to a widely publicized "look book" and star-studded fashion show.

For their Fashion Fight Poverty participation, Chopper Couture has designed an "Eco Revolution" black bamboo tank top, with all profits going to the FFP program.

The Fall 2007 Chopper Couture collection also includes the Rock Royale line inspired by rock royalty. From classics like Stevie, Janis and Pat to modern female rockers like Gwen, Bjork and Courtney, each shirt and hoodie has its own unique design and embellishments. Also available are six different pant styles that come in a variety of colors and can be custom designed with any graphics from the current Rock Royale collection.

Currently available throughout the United States and Canada, Chopper Couture is working on expanding sales to various major European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden.

Victoria Everman is a freelance writer, model, on-camera personality and founder of the San Francisco Craft Mafia.