Stella McCartney recently announced an A-Z manifesto alongside her Summer 2021 Show collection. In this alphabetic assertion of values, ’S' stands for ‘Sustainability’. This works nicely with the fact that her collection is made from 65% recycled materials. Whether it’s simply a marketing ploy or not, it’s clear that the fashion brand is committed to defining itself as led by ethical production.
Despite the illustriousness of her parents’ careers, McCartney has managed to make a significant name for herself. Her eponymous fashion house was launched in 2001 and has become a household name; it’s now approaching its 20th year of existence. Since then, McCartney has become one of the most well-known drivers of sustainability and ethical fashion. She is renowned for never using leather or fur in her designs, and has brought out many vegetarian and vegan alternatives, such as ‘Fur-Free-Fur’ and collaborations with Adidas.
The brand has indeed made some great steps towards reducing its environmental impact; for example they have become members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an alliance which is committed to increasing sustainable production. Furthermore, they have implemented a deadline for this year to stop using hazardous chemicals in their production line, as well as committing to reduce their use of water.
However, the brand still uses some non-eco friendly materials, including polyester and nylon. In response to those who have raised ecological concerns about the use of these synthetic materials, McCartney responds firmly. Answering the suggestion that leather is more ‘natural’ than synthetic alternatives, she tells Vogue ‘quite frankly, that’s rubbish’. She heavily criticises the harsh chemicals and environmental impact of leather production, and says that it has far worse of an effect than vegetarian or vegan leather goods. Her contention that ‘Fake fur isn’t perfect… but the thing is, you have to have an open and honest conversation about it’ exhibits clearly the values of her company, and re-emphasises that a commitment to animal welfare is also at the top of its priorities.
It’s important to remember that Stella McCartney is a luxury brand, which means that her products are priced at the high-end section of the market. However, one must consider the brand’s commitment to the fact that these products are meant to ‘last a lifetime’. This being said, even if it might be more cost-effective to buy one coat or pair of shoes that you keep forever, the initial cost of one-off investments is often not achievable for a large portion of the population. It could therefore be a beneficial idea for luxury brands like this to offer long-term payment options to make these investments more accessible.
It’s clear that a brand which continues to charge in the ballpark of £600 for a handbag can never, at least in my eyes, be perfect. Despite this, I have to admit that Stella McCartney’s influence and success in the pushing forward of sustainability as an agenda is admirable, and as long as the brand continues to do so, it should be held as a shining example.
Main image via Arquitectura y Diseño