Stella McCartney is redesigning fashion’s future for good

The innovative fashion designer and activist for all things British and green, Stella McCartney is lending her voice to promote change in the fashion industry. Co-hosting the launch of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report, ‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, McCartney urges the industry to change.

The newly-released report outlines and projects an ambitious vision and optimistic future for the fashion industry; one that is based on a circular economy to benefit the economy, society and crucially the environment.

The textiles economy operates in an almost entirely linear way, meaning large amounts of natural resources are used to make clothing that after comparatively little use ends the cycle in landfill or incineration. The report outlines its primary goal; “clothes, textiles, and fibres are kept at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy afterwards, never ending up as waste.” In other words; a restorative and regenerative circular economy.

The findings of the report reveal that every second the equivalent of one garbage truck is burned or landfilled while the recycling of clothing material back into new clothes is less than 1%. While around 12% of clothes get recycled into other materials.

In order to realise the aspirations of the report for a new textiles economy, we need to gain the backing of the fashion industry to design clothes that are worn more frequently yet last longer; ensure clothing can be recycled with greater ease and ensure no toxins or pollution are released into the environment. Through harnessing the influence of design, exploring new materials, pioneering business models and innovating technologies, we can reach our goal of creating a new textiles economy.

“At Stella McCartney we are dedicated to supporting sustainable and restorative solutions in our supply chain, working towards a new textiles economy to effect change and reimagine the fashion system. We have started work with innovators such as The RealReal, a leader in luxury consignment – our first step in making sure that our products do not end up as waste. We are also continuing our work to change the perception of recycled fabrics” writes McCartney.

“In 2013, we started using an Environmental Profit and Loss, a form of natural capital accounting, to measure and manage the impact of our business and supply chain on the environment. It is a tool that helps us identify and account for the value of natural capital to our business and the impact that we have on that natural capital through the operation of our business and production of our products. Every free single industry sharing this Earth needs to look at itself and be responsible, mindful and at the same time still have a healthy business at the end of the day. What is really exciting about this report is that it’s providing solutions to an industry that is incredibly harmful to the environment, these are problems that people are not even aware of” she writes.

Condemning the industry for being “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment” McCartney takes a stand against the harmful impacts of fashion industry. This is McCartney’s second activist headline of the week.

“A lifelong vegetarian, Stella McCartney has always refused to use leather in her work. Her stance has led her to find innovative alternatives to the material and allowed her to redefine what luxury can be in modern fashion” writes Vogue on the day the British Fashion Council announced that Stella McCartney will be the first ever recipient of a Special Recognition Award For Innovation at this year’s  Fashion Awards.

“It’s extraordinary that I started this conversation a long time ago and now it’s in the room and people are engaged and people aren’t angry or dismissive. Now they’re actually OK to pay some attention to that” says the designer, who remembers many in the fashion industry voicing doubts about the viability of her brand when she launched it in 2001, with the backing of the Gucci Group (now called Kering). Earlier this year, Gucci announced that it would stop using fur by the middle of 2018 but McCartney remembers having that conversation 17 years ago reports Vogue.

“I love that side of the industry. It’s the future of fashion – the fact that we can use less water, less energy, use our land, our resources and the planet’s resources in a more efficient way – I think it’s fascinating and I think it’s the only way forward”.

“Stella is a true innovator. She has created awareness on sustainability across the fashion industry and acted as an inspiration for our industry and to future generations” says Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council.

“I think every business has to be more responsible. The fashion industry is the second most harmful industry to the environment. I think it’s very encouraging that the British Fashion Council are looking at this and that they’re starting a new award around this” says the designer.

All images via Stella McCartney