Responsible business, sustainable fashion and more
“One of the biggest problems we have in the fashion industry is that we are not being monitored in any way. We don’t have any laws or regulations that put a hard stop to our industry, ”said Stella McCartney at this year’s G7 summit in Cornwall, England. Fashion is “one of the most environmentally harmful in the world,” explained the coveted designer. We know this isn’t the first time McCartney has been committed to sustainable fashion, but what are we doing? Really do you know anything about their ethical endeavors and business model?
When she opened the doors to her own brand in 2001 in a joint venture with the Gucci Group (now the Kering Group), Stella McCartney swore by a philosophy. By embedding cruelty-free and ethical practices deep into her brand’s DNA, she strongly opposed the use of leather, fur, hides and feathers in her collections. Today McCartney has been in the business for decades and yet the famous designer is in line with her sustainable ethos.
The designer’s sustainable approach extends to her entire company, and her offices are number one on the green list. In the UK, she uses renewable energy to power her shops and studios. This environmentally friendly energy is provided by Ecotricity, an English company that supplies green electricity from wind power. But that’s not it. A stroll through her office takes you to fur-free lined elevators, a paper mache wall made from her office’s waste paper, and crystals buried underground for good energy.
McCartney also includes BNATURAL by Bonaveri – the world’s first eco mannequin. The store offers these sustainable and biodegradable mannequins made of BPlast® – a bioplastic that consists of 72% sugar cane derivatives and reduces the brand’s CO2 emissions. And although the company’s headquarters are in London, its DNA has invaded every business premises around the world. Today, nearly 45% of McCartney’s businesses are powered by 100% renewable, green energy. Yes, the woman did Really Defending sustainability.
Raw materials and fabrics
Stella McCartney’s primary focus is to drive her brand towards circularity, innovative materials and investing in cutting edge technologies to reduce environmental impact. The fan of sustainable fashion has achieved this by using materials whose composition is mainly green. What you need to know about the materials used:
Leather: The brand has been using Alter-Nappa in their shoes and bags since 2013. As a vegetarian alternative to leather, Alter-Nappa consists of polyester and polyurethane with a back made of recycled polyester. This leather is solvent-free, while its coating is made with over 50% vegetable oil.
Viscose: Every year nearly 150 million trees are felled worldwide to make viscose fabrics. To counteract this deforestation, Stella McCartney sources viscose from sustainably managed and certified forests in Sweden. This entire process of sourcing materials is circular – it dispenses with chemicals, takes energy efficiency into account and promotes regulations. In addition, the company’s viscose supply chain is completely transparent and European (between Sweden, Germany and Italy).
Cashmere: When the label found that the use of cashmere accounted for about 42% of its total environmental impact, it finally discontinued the material. Instead of this new cashmere, Re.Verso ™ is now used, a form of recycled cashmere made from cashmere waste after the factory in Italy.
Recycled nylon and polyester: By switching to a regenerated form of nylon called ECONYL®, the brand has succeeded in turning waste into a resource. Discarded materials like industrial plastic, scraps of cloth, and fishing nets from the oceans are recycled and regenerated to create a new nylon material that mimics the same quality as virgin nylon.
Designs and campaigns
Stella McCartney’s unwavering commitment to sustainable fashion is evident in almost every one of her collections. “I design clothes that should last a long time. I believe in creating pieces that won’t be burned, that won’t land in landfills, and that won’t harm the environment, ”she said in a press release. What is more impressive is that the designer not only says it, but actually implements it.
Proof? With McCartney’s many creations, you’ll find an ethical piece in almost every product category. Think sustainable glasses made from 50% natural and renewable resources like castor seeds and citric acid, shoe soles made from a bioplastic called APINAT, which decomposes when soaked in mature compost, and more.
On the other hand, their latest autumn 2021 campaign entitled “Our time has come” is considered to be one of their most sustainable creations. The collection consists of 80% environmentally friendly materials and does not compromise on liveliness, energy and style.
With this line, McCartney aims to raise awareness of their cruelty-free ethos. To do this, she roped renowned ambassadors with animal heads and walked around London’s Piccadilly Circus.
The future ahead
As more companies move forward with conscious systems, Stella McCartney not only takes an ethical approach, but also measures it. The designer has been evaluating her environmental impact since 2012 using the environmental gain and loss tool invented by the Kering Group. The EP&L is a form of natural capital accounting that measures the brand’s greenhouse gas emissions, water use, water pollution, land use, air pollution and waste across its entire global supply chain.
After translating the impact into monetary value, the brand can understand the hidden costs and benefits it generates from how it works. This measurement helps the company plan its strategies and processes annually with one main goal – to reduce the environmental impact every year.
Stella McCartney believes that if fashion companies don’t measure their impact on the environment, they can never manage it or, worse, improve it. Today she continues to stand by her ethical ethos, using natural capital accounts to take more sustainable action and build a business that works with Mother Earth, not against her.
Photos: Instagram, Stella McCartney