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One green Banana

April 06, 2008|Emili Vesilind | Times Staff Writer

MAYBE it's time to require all these companies pushing "eco-friendly" clothes to list their ingredients, soup can-style.

Take Banana Republic. Its new Green Collection is made with sustainable materials such as organic cotton, soy silk and bamboo -- and spandex. A halter dress, for example, has braided hemp straps, but it also has bra-like pads sewn into the bodice made of foam rubber. A knit tank top is made from a fabric that's just 5% soy silk. That's diet green, at best.

Alessandra Brunialti, Banana Republic's vice president of design for women, said the collection may be just a baby step toward an environmentally responsible future for the company, but it's a start.

"A year ago, when we started this, we were trying to be super pure about it -- have everything be completely organic," she said. "And it was all becoming too much to do at once. Then our mantra became 'One step at a time.' "

A few pieces will find their way into most of Banana Republic's 500 stores, but in Southern California the full collection will be sold only at the Third Street Promenade store in Santa Monica, starting Tuesday. The line includes about 35 pieces for women and 15 for men; prices range from $18 for a tank top to $150 for jackets.

The styles are more earthy-crunchy than Banana's usual tailored aesthetic -- there's an embroidered fringed wrap ($68), a flowing, long-sleeved hippie top ($89) and organic cotton T-shirts for men emblazoned with leaf and elephant motifs ($29.50). The color palette is almost entirely beige and pea green, and unless you have the ruddy-cheeked complexion of Nicole Kidman, that green isn't so flattering.

The best pieces are more classic, such as the double-breasted trench coat cropped at the thigh ($150) and a tiered white sundress with spaghetti straps and a bamboo print ($128).

Maybe it's not exactly environmentally correct, but it's awfully cute for an alfresco party.

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emili.vesilind@latimes.com

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