Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney, one of the first fashion designers to adopt a sustainable business model. Over the years she has been known to reference her upbringing, living on an organic farm and being vegetarian as her inspiration to embracing this approach to her production and disposal processes in her business. For Stella, being sustainable does not only apply to her business conduct and ethical practise only, she uses sustainability to inform her decisions every single day so that sustainability is a lifestyle. Her choice to be sustainable does not only inform her environmental awareness, it also shapes her politics within the industry, which were not  always  favoured by her industry peers. She often talks about being ridiculed by her peers when she launched her eponymous label in October 2001. This says a lot about her courage and legacy in the industry, by setting the standard for being a high fashion brand that does not use traditional textiles that are harmful to the environment.

Stella’s choices have seen every inch of her business being tailored to sustainable conduct. For example, all her stores in the UK are powered by wind energy and abroad, they use renewable energy to power their stores and offices with about 45% of their operations running on 100% renewable energy. Renewable energy sources are appealing due to their reduction of pollution, not producing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and diversifying energy supply. As attractive as renewable energy is, there are still many cynical fashion producers who still feel that renewable energy sources are too slow to reach their desired goals. Nevertheless, McCartney refuses to compromise on her beliefs, practises and convictions to accommodate the industry’s ignorance to our planet’s destruction. Using renewable energy for fashion production proposes a minimalist approach to the lengthy garment sector, ensuring that business can report this aspect as part of their sustainability outreach. It has become apparent that in 2020 every fashion business has a sustainability policy, which begs the question, what is it that McCartney knew all those years ago, that everyone else is understanding better now?

The beliefs I was raised with – to respect animals and to be aware of nature, to understand that we share this planet with other creatures – have had a huge impact on me.

Education is key to producing and consuming sustainable fashion. It would appear that the overuse of raw materials was not taught at fashion business schools, because the leaders of the industry did not understand this. McCartney, who was raised by animal rights activists would easily acquire sustainable thinking because of its preservation clause through her lived experiences. In no way, however, does McCartney’s business model challenge people to be vegetarian or to develop activist’s mindsets, because she only asks that people desire her designs, ethically and responsibly made. She has the ability to perform her politics without scolding her clientele but by being deliberate in her pursuit of living sustainably. Sustainability is no longer an option now, it is a necessity for our planet’s survival and more consumers require sustainably produced garments, hence the new industry interest in the subject. For many businesses, this is just another business remodel to remain relevant in the new world, but for McCartney, the knowledge and purpose have always been there.

My personal idea of luxury is having a voice, having freedom, having clean air to breathe, animals by our side that are happy and healthy, having pure water to drink, having mother nature and planet Earth as the ultimate.

Stella McCartney has proven to be a force within the sustainable fashion movement. She not only produces eco-friendly fashion, she also produces hope in the future for better business practice. Her global reach is claim to the view and approach of the Sustainable Development Goals 12 (SDG12).  She has also created a world where leather, fur and PVC are not used in luxury fashion design, materials known for their highly destructive properties to the earth and animals alike. Stella McCartney is living proof that rather than highlighting barriers to changing engraved habits, we can highlight the means through which sustainable fashion consumption could be habituated norm.

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