Stella McCartney recently put on the most sustainable show she has ever done. She has been one of the most outspoken designers in the industry who has abstained from leather and fur throughout her career.
Fluid dressed, wide-legged pants and floral prints made with 90% recycled organic cotton, cashmere and polyester were on full display at Stella McCartney’s Paris Fashion Week show last night. The Spring and Summer 2020 collection was her first one since collaborating with the French luxury group LVMH.
McCartney has a track record of promoting environment-friendly fashion. Earlier in 2018, she introduced a new, 4-D printed shoe, in collaboration with Adidas, that looked sleek and upscale and it produced almost zero waste. “People really don’t want to talk about the fact that the fashion industry’s biggest impact is its use of leather,” McCartney had said, “The animals it kills, the toxins, the chemicals, the cutting down of rain forests, the food and water and electricity it takes to make a leather bag . . . It’s way more than a synthetic bag. [And] a fur coat has a much higher impact on the environment than a fake-fur one for many, many reasons. One is animal cruelty, which no one seems to care about or want to talk about, but in my mind, that’s an important part of the conversation. Fake fur isn’t perfect. But the thing is, you have to have an open and honest conversation about it. We’re working on a fake fur made out of corn—it’s really technical. That’s where I get really turned on about what I do, because we’re problem-solving every day. We’ve stopped using [some types of] fake fur because maybe they did have more chemicals or they weren’t ideal. But they’re certainly better than real fur.” She has also not made an attempt to hide her indignation at fellow designers who still continue to use leather and fur and has felt that her words have fallen on deaf ears in the past. Many designers have all the information and are aware of the consequences but still do not eliminate leather from their collections.
Another mantle she’s taken up (alone, so far) is her support of consignment and rental services, which extend the lifespans of garments and discourage people from constantly buying new items, especially at fast-fashion chains. While other designers have again restrained indulging in the secondhand market, likely because they feared it could affect their bottom line, McCartney became an official partner of TheRealReal (a world leader in luxury consignment) last year.
The night before the 2020 Collection show, McCartney hosted a roundtable discussion on sustainability at the Palais Garnier show venue. Members of Extinction Rebellion and a founder of Bolt Threads, a Californian biotechnology company producing lab-grown silk and other fabric, took part in a discussion alongside environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertran, and animal rights activist and actor Maisie Williams (best known for playing Arya Stark on Game of Thrones). Stella also gave each guest a timeline detailing innovations in sustainable fashion over the past 19 years. She left the following message which will hopefully create a positive impact on other designers to follow suit, “The world is crying out for change and it is our responsibility to act now. The younger generation is standing up and telling us that our house is on fire and that we need to respond like we are in a crisis because, in fact, it is a crisis. It’s time to wake up… this is the future of fashion, not just a trend.”