The Little Green Dress

by Natalie Bencivenga


April 29, 2020

While April 22 is Earth Day and a celebration for many, for one, it is a legacy that has impacted not only his business, but his own personal approach to sustainable style for more than 40 years. Richard Parsakian, owner of Eons Fashion Antique in Shadyside, has been on the cutting edge of vintage and upcycled fashion for decades, parlaying his love for one-of-a-kind pieces into a movement to save Mother Earth. “In the late 70s, vintage fashion was a niche market and it wasn’t really about recycling or being good to the planet,” said Mr. Parsakian. “Vintage stores were a department store of treasures, where you could find a complete head-to-toe look. But now, especially with the younger generations, they are recognizing the importance of vintage fashion as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. A lot of what I do is reeducating people. Because we are now more aware of slow fashion and fast fashion, it becomes that much easier to talk about sustainability in a way that we couldn’t before. We just didn’t have the language.” He notes that stores like Eons Fashion Antique carry accessories, outerwear and more so that your one-stop-shop doesn’t impact the planet by driving to multiple locations or ordering packages online. 

Mr. Parsakian recalled his first experience with Earth Day and how it impacted him. “When the first Earth Day happened in 1970, I was in college and I learned through that experience, keeping sustainability as my personal mantra throughout my life. This store is an aspect of what I have always believed in. There are things out there that can be reused and upcycled.” 

The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil

Upcycled fashion is a form of creative reuse, where materials that aren’t purposeful any longer are given new life. He hopes that we see more of this in fashion, along with vintage looks taking center stage moving forward.

Need some inspiration? Ecolution, an Earth Day celebratory fashion event, which has been postponed to Friday, August 28 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland, is a passion project of Mr. Parsakian’s that he hopes will encourage people to look at our environment through a fashionable, eco-friendly lens. 

Local designers will have their fantastical visions on display, all made from reusable materials. Some of the highlights in past years were dresses made from broken, discarded CDs and others made from newspaper clippings. This year’s theme #EarthMattersNow focuses on the world we dream of and examines the world we have now. 

“I proposed this idea prior to the pandemic, but now it feels more relevant than ever before,” he said.  He curated the 26 local artists and designers, reconnecting and reimagining sustainable fashions using recycled, upcycled, organic materials to create talking points. The idea is on a higher scale, to have an artist speak to the theme and to speak of how we need to look and relook at how we respect the earth. “This isn’t just about fashion, it is a political movement; we cannot deny there is climate change,” he said.


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter.