Lara Miller: Eco Fashion's Quick Change Artist


Eco Fashion designer Lara Miller is an Eco Chick fave; her supermodern, often convertible, sensuously romantic, yet travel-friendly designs are deceptively simple but always on point.

Lara says she didn’t plan her designs for the travelling types (though they suit us so well), but that her ideas come from a playful, fun place that happens to result in highly variable separates (think dresses that can be worn three ways, or trousers that have adjustable hems):

I graduated from a very conceptual design program at the School of the Art Institute where I researched Eadweard Muybridge images and architectual theory by Gregg Lynn. I was fascinated with the idea of animation and gestures in every day life, especially when getting dressed. I wanted to give the wearer a relationship to their pieces and allow them to be more individual. As my line and I have grown up, the functionality has really become key.

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The Fern Flip wrap in recycled cotton

Lara uses the most cutting edge eco fabrics, experimenting with fibers made from seacell, bamboo, organic cotton, lyocell, flax- and soy-based fibers and hemp. “My most favorite lately has been recycled cotton yarn – regenerated from scraps of t-shirts by a company in North Carolina. I especially love knitting it in a mesh like stitch that reminds me of fishnet,” says Lara.

Focusing on sourcing fabrics from US-based mills is one way to cut her company’s carbon footprint; having all the garments sewn in her native Chicago is another. She also uses low-impact dyes and researches all her fabric sources.

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The Stevie T-Shirt Tunic.

Lara’s fave pieces from her Fall, 2010 collection include the cardigans, “…especially the Fern Flip Wrap (above) in the recycled cotton. And of course tunics and dresses – the only thing that makes me excited about Chicago getting cold again is The Mila Kimono Sweater Dress and the Stevie T-Shirt Tunic (pictured above and below).”

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The Mila Kimono Sweater Dress

Lara stresses that she doesn’t want to make her clothes too conceptual and if you take a look at the offerings in her online shop, or previous and current collections, you’ll see they are made up of traditional colors and drapes, but each with a twist.

Being a “green” company means much more to me than just using eco-friendly fibers. It means supporting the local economy and using the least amount of energy possible. It means using a local printer that only uses recycled paper and partially runs on wind power. It means giving back in every way that I can to my employees, my community, and the world.

Lara’s entry in the Yesterday’s News: Do Gooder Design Challenge

Lara is also one of the designers in the Yesterday’s News Do Gooder Challenge, though Lara says the toughest part of working with recycled newsprint is that she can’t knit it on her loom. “After we had our first phone call with Yesterday’s News I tried to figure out how to knit it but the texture was too hard,” she says. Take a look at her video diary above for more!

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.