Since the early 2000s, British designer Stella McCartney has paved the way for sustainable luxury fashion. In 2001, McCartney launched her own fashion house in her name – Stella McCartney as a joint venture with Kering.
In this article, we will talk about Stella McCartney’s journey in creating her sustainable and vegetarian brand. She’s one of the industry’s pioneers on that matter and has inspired a lot of up-and-coming designers.
Keep reading to find out more about the brand’s mission and accomplishments when it comes to sustainability.
McCartney’s Love For Animals And The Environment
Stella McCartney is an animal rights activist and environmentalist. Her love for animals and vegetarian diet has been influenced by her father, Sir Paul McCartney who also is a vegetarian and has been an advocate for animals, since the 1970s.
As a fashion designer, McCartney follows in her father’s footsteps by avoiding the use of animal textiles in her collections. At the start of her business, the company’s sustainable practices were much different from what most designers had been doing on the runway.
The British designer has made it her “life mission” to bring conscience to the fashion industry, as stated in a press release.
“Every year, 100 million animals are bred and killed for their fur to supply the fashion industry.” – (Stella McCartney, Humane Society International 2021)
Their Environmental Mission
Since their founding, Stella McCartney has never used any leather, skins, feathers, or fur.
The company has been successful since the start, and its commitment to sustainability did not compromise style. In fact, quite the opposite. Amazing designs and silhouettes are just as important as sustainable processes and materials.
“I think one of the biggest compliments is when I know people go in and buy a Falabella bag or a pair of shoes, or a faux leather skirt, and they have no idea they’re not real leather. I think that’s really where it becomes sexy—where you’re not just providing an alternative for someone who is a vegan. You’re creating a great product.” (Stella McCartney, Vogue, 2017)
One of the most iconic pieces that the brand has introduced is the Falabella Bag. Her mother, Linda McCartney was also a vegetarian and animal rights activist. In honor of her mom, McCartney named her signature bag after her favorite horse breed. The bag is crafted entirely from vegetarian leather. The company is constantly striving to improve by searching for oil-free and plant-based materials.
According to the Stella McCartney website, “Our leather alternatives do not just look good, but they are also better for the environment. Using synthetic leather instead of Brazilian calf leather, for example, creates up to 24 times less environmental impact, as
calculated through the Environmental Profit and Loss.”
Technology & Fashion Synchronized
The company uses innovative techniques to lessen environmental impact across its supply chain and designs as part of its commitment to reducing its environmental impact.
The Stella McCartney supply chain sources materials and products through a carefully selected network of suppliers around the world. Therefore, the company is able to trace down the origins of the natural materials and supplies to create sustainable textile.
As a result, the brand can improve its supply chain transparency and trackability significantly. With Kering, Stella McCartney will be able to achieve farm/mine level traceability of all materials by 2025, stated on their website.
Creating with Consciousness
In addition to the company’s environmental efforts, they use regenerated cashmere, and sustainable viscose. This last one has a lower impact on the environment. Virgin cashmere is extremely difficult to harvest, as it is collected from goats.
According to Good On You, “Cashmere production can also have a social impact, there’s growing concern about the working conditions of cashmere goat herders”. The article states that the increased demand for cashmere has meant herd sizes have increased, driving the desertification of Mongolian grasslands. Another issue is climate change, once it is exacerbating different impacts.
Stella McCartney is able to create luxurious clothing from regenerated cashmere. With that, she proves that it is possible in the world of luxury fashion to redefine waste and production.
Re.Verso is crafted from post-factory waste in Italy. McCartney wanted to ensure that the raw materials used to craft the brand’s fabrics do not contribute to the loss of ancient and endangered forests.
Stella McCartney’s most recent 2021 fall campaign, ‘Our time has come’, celebrates animals as our equals. Human activity slowed during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and animals began to return to major cities. For this campaign, a “stylish fantasy” of these animals lives free. Also, to reclaim their places among humans, celebrating animals from all over, and urging customers to sign the Humane Society International’s petition to create a fur-free society.
Stella McCartney as the forefront of sustainable fashion
In an interview with Vogue, at the Forces of Fashion Conference, McCartney discussed her thoughts about a greener fashion industry, as her brand is at the forefront of sustainable fashion.
Furthermore, the launch of her fur and leather-free company was met with a lot of doubt from many people. In the early 2000s, big companies were using fur and leather to create their products.
“(In the beginning,) I was kind of ridiculed. I know people thought I was nuts—how can you go into the fashion industry and not use leather? I had a million people along the way say, ‘This is not going to work; you’re not going to have an accessories business; You’ll never be able to approach it in the way all of these big brands do.’ But I think what’s amazing is that I started in one place, but now the environment, what we eat, how we conduct ourselves, and how we consume, those links have been made. The information is out there, and that’s what feels exciting. The reality of the impact this industry has on the environment is something people can really see.” (Stella McCartney, Vogue 2021)
McCartney’s first global environmental profit and loss report
A huge milestone for Stella McCartney’s environmental mission was in 2015 when her brand published its first global Environmental Profit and Loss report.
The report is important for consumers to understand the clear environmental impacts the brand has on the environment. According to the company’s website, “The Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) is a groundbreaking tool developed by Kering, to help companies understand their environmental impact. We use the EP&L to measure the impact of every part of our business, from the raw materials we use to the way we make our clothes and sell them in our stores.”
What McCartney Says About Future Generations Of Fashion
It is evident that future generations of fashion will have to clean up the mess that we left behind. As McCartney said to Vogue, “For the next generation, ethical fashion is already a “no-brainer.” –
In regards to McCartney’s stance on using real fur in fashion, she urges others to realize what the future consequences might look like.
“I’m hoping what will happen is in 10 years, people will look back at the fact that we killed billions of animals and cut down millions of acres of the rain forest, and (used) water in the most inefficient way. We can’t sustain this way of living. So I’m hoping people will look back and say, “Really?”That’s what they did to make a pair of shoes, seriously?’ If you’re lucky enough to have a business on this planet, you have to approach it in this (sustainable) way.” – (Stella McCartney, Vogue, 2021)
Stella McCartney was one of the first fashion designers to ultimately change and challenge the fashion industry. In other words, she challenges the current system and shows that fashion can be more conscious without leaving profitability.
McCartney often challenged the norms of the industry. Now designers are changing their ways of becoming more sustainable and conscious of the environment.
Stella McCartney is constantly creating new ways of being sustainable. And, that is when technology and innovation must step up, together. Check out our article about how new tools are reshaping the industry!