British designer and sustainability activist, Stella McCartney, has transformed the fashion world with her innovative designs and ethical garments. McCartney was raised as a vegetarian and her mother, Linda McCartney’s philosophy and passion for sustainability and desire to lessen her environmental impact was passed on to Stella.
Her career launched after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 1995, where supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell modeled pieces for her final collection.After completing her Fashion Design degree, she preceded to a tailoring apprenticeship before being appointed to be the head of the luxury French fashion house, Chloe. Following this exciting new venture, she left her role as Creative Director and launched her own label with Kering.
Incorporating her love for fashion and design with her sustainability values and ethical morals, she was able tostart a brand, whose business model is centered around sustainability. As mentioned on the company’s website, the brand is ‘committed to always being responsible, honest and accountable’ and count themselves as ‘activists’ striving to lessen their impact on the environment.
By introducing a less damaging way to shop stylish garments, the brand drew attraction from both the media and consumers. In addition to being cruelty free and disregarding the use of leather or real fur, the brand has strong values and transparency throughout their supply chain; essential for a brand to become sustainable.
One of the ways that the brand holds accountability for their environmental impact is through banning harmful materials; for example since 2016, the company have only used recycled cashmere, reducing their environmental impact by 7 times compared to non-recyclable cashmere. Nylon and polyester are also materials that they have discontinued and regenerated into recyclable nylon and polyester. According to the brands website, this process, for the nylon itself, has helped stop 10 tonnes of nylon ending up in landfill and recycled polyester has a 75% lower carbon footprint and uses up to 90% less water. Likewise with their packaging they ensure to only use paper that is FSC certified (products that only come from responsibly managed sources), they have also banned PVC and have made a goal by 2025 to only use environmentally friendly plastic which can be recycled.
With only 1% of textiles getting recycled, Stella McCartney hopes to inspire other fashion brands to follow by transforming waste into a new material and using initiative to find ways to become more sustainable throughout the entire supply chain.
Regarding the companies social sustainability; their policies follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which outlines that through every stage of their supply chain, each person must be respected, earn a ‘fair’ wage and be ‘equally valued’. The brand holds good relationships with their suppliers and continue to work with he same suppliers who they’ve used since the launch of the company.
Their supply chain is largely made up of small workshops that specialise in specific techniques and only allow 37 workers in a facility at once- compared to a fast fashion company where there could be hundreds.
The success of the company relies primarily on McCartney’s ethics and sustainable motives. Sustainability is at the heart of McCartney’s work, as she stated in an interview with FG magazine, that she is always asking what have we done to make this garment more sustainable and what else can we do.
The label has grown from primarily womenswear into multiple collections including menswear, footwear, athleisure, eyewear, handbags and kids clothing. With 46 freestanding stores around the world, the brand has become globally recognised for its innovations in sustainability and McCartney’s efforts in inspiring the rest of the industry to become more sustainable.