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Stella’s Sustainability, a McCartney Motto: The Future of Sustainable Fashion

The past year has proven to be a provocative time for self-reflection in the fashion industry, as fashion superstars renowned for their international lifestyles become physically grounded in their homes, igniting a simultaneous moral grounding and introspection. Since the turn of the millennium, global fashion production and consumption has more than doubled in order to meet the fast-paced consumer culture which characterises the twentieth century. This has encouraged fashion to become a medium of expression more readily accessible to all through brand emphasis on pret-á-porter and the commercial success of high street and online shopping. However, alongside this growth comes an increasing awareness of the social and environmental pejoratives which encase this luxury.

Photo credits: @stellamccartney

With the clearing of water that runs through Venice’s canals and the visibility of the Himalayas from regions in Northern India, the ground we both walk upon and exploit begins to rebirth its natural rhythms, slowly cleansing the physical stains of our carbon footprints. Now more than ever the need for change is transparent.

Whilst this is not fashion’s problem alone, the industry was deemed by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as one of the most polluting on earth and thus carries much of the responsibility into the future. Therefore, nature’s current regrowth is a physical reminder of what can often seem to only exist in science reports. A visceral reminder of the importance of brands like Stella McCartney, which center their ethos and image around sustainability.

Photo credits: @stellamccartney

During the first global lockdown, Stella McCartney launched an online project with the hashtag ‘Stellavision' which connotes this clear, forward thinking mindset fashion is currently craving, inaugurating the brand’s latest turn towards online campaigns.

This series provokes a moment of awareness at the possibility of reducing the number of air miles travelled for one campaign, as models, clothing, art directors, stylists, makeup artists and photographers (among many others) are flown in from across the globe for a few days of photoshoots. Yet it is not only the polluting effects of travel the high fashion brand seems to be aware of, as the series which range from Stella’s photographer sister Mary McCartney’s self-portraits to an insight into model Helena Christensen’s lockdown life, promote the environmentally conscious materials all of Stella McCartney’s collections boast. This includes Ralph Gibson’s nature photoshoot of the vegan ‘Eclypse’ sneaker and Anna Pollack’s Facetime photoshoots with friends modelling the Stella McCartney lingerie range, partially fabricated from ‘Peace Silk’ which is sourced without disrupting the natural lifecycle of silkworms.

Photo credits: @stellamccartney

Since the launch of Stella McCartney in 2001 the brand has adopted the ‘kindness forever’ stance of the environmentally conscious work of Stella’s mother Linda McCartney and her vegan and vegetarian food brand. For Stella McCartney this includes a rejection of leather and fur as well as an appetite for reducing quantities of waste material through re-engineered cashmeres, viscose from sustainably managed forests and woven fabrics such as those included in Stella McCartney’s partnership with Adidas for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games. The brand also emphasises the importance of social sustainability by sourcing these materials from global artisans rather than industrial factories which prioritise profit over worker welfare.

Therefore, Stella McCartney’s existing collections and current content - like her IGTV conversation with Paul Pogba about ‘Style X Sustainability’ - are created in tune with, and therefore are translatable within this modern discourse of sustainability. They reflect the current politics of Extinction Rebellion movements and climate action of school strikes across the UK.

The fashion industry prizes itself on creativity and it is this creativity which must be carried forwards into sustainable development, to both further this development and facilitate it through innovative design. Stella’s sustainable stamina and constant drive to better the impact of her brand on the environment proves that sustainability is neither the latest fashion fad, nor the latest accompaniment to the infamous insult of being ‘last season’, but instead exists as framework for the industry’s actions, a constant reminder of its importance. It only remains to be seen how forward-thinking the fashion industry on the whole will prove itself to be, once the pandemic is over.

Edited by Isabela Palancean

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