New suede outerwear goes ‘green’

Wearing a leather jacket may be fashionable, but according to some environmentalists, the cost may go beyond the wallet. Leather processing and manufacturing involves the use of several aggressive chemicals such as sulfides, acids and alkalis which produce organic wastes that frequently end up in the environment despite control efforts.

Wearing a leather jacket may be fashionable, but according to some environmentalists, the cost may go beyond the wallet. Leather processing and manufacturing involves the use of several aggressive chemicals such as sulfides, acids and alkalis which produce organic wastes that frequently end up in the environment despite control efforts.

These rising environmental concerns about the tanning process of leather and suede have caused Bernardo Fashions to develop eco-friendly, suede outerwear by introducing Bernardo GREEN.

The new collection of women’s fashionable suede jackets are manufactured using a “green” production process that has been verified and certified from the farm to the garment. The entire “Green” process can be tracked online using an identification code to ensure authenticity beginning with where the company purchases the skins to the biodegradable tanning agents, dyes, and finishes that are used to tan the skin.

According to Stuart Pollack, the best part of Bernardo GREEN collection is that jackets not only are fashionable, but also they sell for less than the price of regular suede. “Green does not have to have a premium - it’s just a better value all around.”

The Bernardo GREEN collection will be available at Bellevue Nordstrom in August. The collection will offer a variety of 21 fashion colors in military, safari, and wrap inspired styles. The Reporter recently spoke with Pollack to discuss why “green” is in.

Reporter: Tell me why your company chose to pursue an eco-friendly line of garments?

Pollack: I wanted to create an update for washable suede and was looking for a new angle. It was only later that I learned that I could make a profit and do better for the environment as well. The number one person pushing me is my 13-year-old daughter, Ashley, who in school became very concerned about the environment and the future of the planet. Now it has become part of the company’s philosophy. We make 100 percent organic cotton raincoats in the spring as well.

Reporter: How did the concept of bio-degradable suede first arise?

Pollack: In truth it wasn’t all my idea. After years of dealing with IUV, a Slovenian company, the CEO of the company, Greg Strummer, began discussing the idea with me. Leather tanneries are high polluters and the idea appealed to me, so we worked on it together for three years. Bottom line, without Greg and IUV there would still be no such product in the world. This is, for the moment, the first and only.

Reporter: Is there a difference in appearance between the eco-friendly suede garments and other suede?

Pollack: In some colors you give up the brightness because in regular tanning they use chrome. Chrome 6 is now banned in Europe and chrome 3 is now being looked at. In the USA these are still quite prevalent. They are said to cause cancer - I don’t really know - I’m not a scientist - but the bottom line is chrome is no good for you. In our garments we don’t use chrome; it’s a brand new tanning process.

Reporter: What does “green” mean to the company?

Pollack: It means both to the company and to me the same thing - doing your best to protect what we have. It’s all a progression. Twenty-five percent “green” is better then 10 percent and 75 percent is better then 50 percent. We need to start somewhere and then move forward.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or at 425-453-4602.

Learn more

For more information on Bernardo Fashions visit www.bernardofashions.com.