âOne of the biggest problems we have in the fashion industry is that we are not controlled in any way. We don’t have any laws or legislation that will put the brakes on our industry, âsaid Stella McCartney at this year’s G7 summit in Cornwall, England. The coveted designer has said that fashion is “one of the most polluting in the world”. While we know this isn’t the first time McCartney has advocated for sustainable fashion, what can we do really know its ethical efforts and its business model?
In 2001, when she opened the doors of her own brand in a joint venture with Gucci Group (now Kering Group), Stella McCartney made sure to swear by one philosophy. By deeply inscribing ethical and cruelty-free practices in her brand’s DNA, she has firmly opposed the use of leather, fur, skins and feathers in her collections. Today, McCartney has been in the business for decades, and yet the famous designer aligns with her sustainable philosophy.
The designer’s sustainable approach extends throughout her business, with her offices being number one on the green list. In the UK, it uses renewable energy to power its stores and studios. This environmentally friendly energy is supplied by Ecotricity, an English company that supplies green electricity produced by wind power. But it’s not that. A stroll through his office will take you to furless-lined elevators, a papier-mÃ¢chÃ© wall made from old paper from his office, and crystals buried under the floor for good energy.
McCartney also incorporates BNATURAL by Bonaveri, the world’s first eco-model. The store offers these sustainable and biodegradable mannequins, made of BPlastÂ®, a bioplastic material composed of 72% of sugar cane derivative, which helps reduce the brand’s CO2 emissions. And although the company’s headquarters are in London, its DNA has permeated every field of operation around the world. Today, nearly 45% of McCartney’s operations run on 100% renewable green energy. Yes, the woman has really championed sustainability.
Raw materials and fabrics
Stella McCartney’s main objective is to push her brand towards circularity, innovative materials and investment in cutting-edge technologies to reduce the environmental impact. The mainstay of sustainable fashion has achieved this by using mostly green materials. Here’s what you need to know about the materials used:
Leather: Since 2013, the brand has been using alter-nappa in its shoes and bags. A vegetarian alternative to leather, alter-nappa is made from polyester and polyurethane with a recycled polyester backing. This leather is solvent-free, while its coating is composed of more than 50% vegetable oil.
Viscose: Each year, nearly 150 million trees around the world are felled to create viscose fabric. To fight against this deforestation, Stella McCartney sources viscose from sustainably managed and certified forests in Sweden. This entire fabric supply path is circular: it eliminates chemicals, incorporates energy efficiency and pushes back regulations. In addition, the company’s viscose supply chain is fully transparent and European (between Sweden, Germany and Italy).
Cashmere: When the label realized that its use of cashmere contributed around 42% of its total environmental impact, it gave up the material for good. Instead of that virgin cashmere, it now uses Re.Verso â¢, a form of recycled cashmere made from post-factory cashmere waste in Italy.
Recycled nylon and polyester: By switching to a form of regenerated nylon called ECONYLÂ®, the brand has transformed waste into a resource. Discarded materials like industrial plastic, fabric scraps and ocean fishing nets are recycled and reclaimed to create a new nylon material that replicates the same quality as virgin nylon.
Designs and campaigns
Stella McCartney’s unwavering commitment to sustainable fashion is evident in almost all of her collections. âI design clothes that are made to last. I believe in creating parts that won’t be burned, that won’t go to landfills and that won’t damage the environment, âshe said in a press release. What’s more impressive is the fact that the designer doesn’t just say it but actually implements it.
Proof? Among McCartney’s many designs, you can find an ethical piece in almost any product category. Think sustainable eyewear made from 50% natural and renewable resources like castor seeds and citric acid, shoe soles made from a bioplastic called APINAT that will degrade when placed in ripe compost. , and more.
On the other hand, his latest fall 2021 campaign titled âOur Time Has Comeâ is considered one of his most enduring creations to date. Made with 80% environmentally friendly materials, the collection does not compromise on vibrancy, energy and style.
Through this line, McCartney aims to publicize his cruelty-free philosophy. To do this, she roped up renowned ambassadors who wore animal heads and strolled through Piccadilly Circus, London.
The future to come
As more companies embrace conscious systems, Stella McCartney is not only taking an ethical approach, but measuring it as well. The designer has been evaluating her environmental impact since 2012 using the environmental profit and loss tool invented by the Kering group. EP&L is a form of natural capital accounting that measures greenhouse gas emissions, water use, water pollution, land use, air pollution and brand waste across its global supply chain.
Once the impacts are translated into monetary value, the brand is able to understand the hidden costs and the benefits it generates from its mode of operation. This measure helps the company to plan its strategies and operations each year with a major objective: to reduce its environmental impact each year.
Stella McCartney believes that if fashion companies don’t measure their impact on the environment, they will never be able to manage it or, worse, improve it. Today, she continues to defend her ethical philosophy and uses natural capital accounting in order to take more sustainable actions and create a business that works with Mother Earth rather than against her.
Photographs: Instagram, Stella McCartney