Stella McCartney Issues Dramatic Plea for Critical Sustainability Changes in Fashion Industry

Amber Valletta, Chu Wong + Emma Laird Front Stella McCartney Fall 2019 by Johnny Dufort Stella McCartney Fall 2019 Ad Campaign

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2019 ad campaign features Amber Valletta, Chu Wong and Emma Laird lensed by Johnny Dufort./ Makeup by Thomas De Kluyver; hair by Gary Gill

Stella McCartney Open Letter on Sustainability Sept. 15, 2019

In advance of her Spring 2020 Women’s Ready-to-Wear show McCartney issued an industry letter published in London’s Sunday Times Style magazine. The designer known for her relentless work with the fashion industry around issues of sustainability is calling for immediate action in all sectors of garment manufacturing.

"The fashion industry is at a crossroads, and I believe that this is a moment for us to come together to achieve systemic, sustainable change in our industry. “

Designer Stella McCartney

Designer Stella McCartney

McCartney is calling for a shift towards circularity and reuse of what we already have, helping to reduce the insatiable need for newness that has ravaged the planet in the last 20 years.

"The fashion industry is one of the most polluting and damaging industries in the world. Every single second, the equivalent of one rubbish truck of textiles is sent to landfill or burnt.

"The fashion industry accounts for more than a third of ocean microplastics, while textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water globally. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will be using up to a quarter of the world's carbon budget.

"This way of working is not sustainable. The world is crying out for change, and it is our responsibility to act now... The science is clear, and we need to do more than just incremental shifts; keeping business as usual is no longer an option."

As well as encouraging rental, resale and recycling of clothing, Stella wants companies to embrace new "tools" and "innovators" to create their garments.

As well as encouraging rental, resale and recycling of clothing, Stella wants companies to embrace new "tools" and "innovators" to create their garments.

"The Ellen MacArthur Foundation tells us that only 1% of textiles are recycled back into textiles each year -- this is simply unacceptable. Supporting innovators will help to drastically increase this number, but we need this shift now.

"Companies we work with, like Econyl and Evrnu, are enabling true textile-to-textile recycling. More brands could help these innovators scale, and governments should support their development.

"For decades the fashion industry has relied on the same 10 to 12 fibres to make almost all of our garments, and I believe that it is time for us to add some new tools to our toolbox. Incredible innovators like Bolt Threads are using cutting-edge technology and biology to develop new textiles and materials.

"They are reimagining what the building blocks of our industry could be, and we are working closely with them as they develop incredible mycelium-based 'leather', grown in a lab and not harming a single creature in the process.

"The production of leather, which can account for up to 10% of the commercial value of a cow, shares full responsibility for the same environmental hazards as the meat industry; most critically, it is a leading cause of climate change. I believe with these new technologies that we are on the brink of something very exciting."

New AOC Writing on Sustainability

Eco-Conscious Brit Designers Vin + Omi Ready LFW with Nettle-Fabrics from Prince Charles' Garden

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It all began with a cup of tea in spring 2018 with Prince Charles and members of the British design industry committed to putting the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion sustainability initiative into action. Attending were design duo Vin + Omi, admired by both Beyonce and Michelle Obama.

"It’s so surreal," says Omi, who talked to The Hollywood Reporter by phone from London and, like Vim, goes only by his first name. "We were invited for tea with His Royal Highness, and it was just a passing comment he made, where he suggested using nettles from his estate and turning them into clothes. It was over tea — we thought nothing of it. Then the next thing you know, we were down on his estate, collecting weeds. It went from zero to 100 very quickly!"

Prince Charles volunteered an abundance of nettles in residence at his and Camilla’s Clarence House gardens known as Highgrove Royal Gardens.

Prior to talking nettles with Prince Charles, Vin + Omi were creating clothes woven from cow parsley and discarded bottles. Their collection opened London Fashion Week’s Spring 2019 shows in September 2018. The creatives blended cow parsley with flax, creating an eco-fabric called Flaxley produced by by attendees of a Gloucestershire employment programme to create the clothes seen on the catwalk. The Guardian writes that Vin + Omi also created hybrid metal fabrics, manufactured from cans collected by homeless people on a support programme in Birmingham, and bags made from fabric derived from plastic bottles discarded from the menswear shows in July and collected, recycled and woven by London College of Fashion students.

Design duo Vin + Omi used nettles from the estate of Prince Charles to create 10 pieces of clothing, to be shown during London Fashion Week later this month.

Design duo Vin + Omi used nettles from the estate of Prince Charles to create 10 pieces of clothing, to be shown during London Fashion Week later this month.

Vin + Omi have been focused on eco fabrics since 2004 with a focus on the environment and supporting local communities. Two of their big successes have been creating an eco latex from a rubber plantation they fund in Malaysia and vegan “leather” made from the skins of chestnuts.

On the subject of longevity, Omi reminds Hollywood Reporter readers that the Prince has been committed to sustainability issues for 25 years.

"The thing we learned about working with someone with of the status of His Royal Highness is that he is really well informed," adds Omi. "You would think someone who is so high up wouldn’t necessarily have all these cares and concerns for the environment, so it's quite humbling. His team is really well informed, too, with the plants and all the properties that go with them. We widened our knowledge about what the possibilities are of working with these species of plants."

As part of the collection, Vin + Omi partnered with art supply brand Daler-Rowney. "We are reutilizing their paint plastic tubes and turning them into fabric, so we’re helping with their waste issues. Then we have our own linen, which we grow in our fields, and we’re also up-cycling denim, to stop it from going to landfills. We want to stop old garments from ending up in the incinerator,” Omi says. Biodegradable latex is part of the upcoming collection, says Omi, stressing that that Vin + Omi really aren’t fashion designers. The duo considers themselves to be sustainability-focused artists and clothes are their canvas.

."Everything has been carefully thought out," says Omi. "The amount of attention we’ve been receiving ahead of the show is quite humbling. From Nigeria, Australia, it's been really crazy. We’re expecting a really crazy, big show."

Omi says the duo plans to send pieces to Prince Charles, who has been sending them letters of encouragement, "as a gesture of thank you." A piece from the collection is also going to the Victoria and Alfred Museum. "It’s nice that they will have a piece in their archive permanently for public viewing," Omi says. "The public will be able to go and see and realize that 'Wow, this is what you can do with nature.'"

Chief Sustainability Officers Become Collaborative C-Suite Execs with Major Fashion Influence

Virginie-Helias-CSO Procter Gamble (top) Marie-Claire Daveau CSO Kering (bottom)

Virginie-Helias-CSO Procter Gamble (top) Marie-Claire Daveau CSO Kering (bottom)

Vogue Business profiles the growing influence of corporate Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO) including Kering’s CSO and head of international institutional affairs Marie-Claire Daveu, who sits on Karing’s 13-person executive committee; Virginie Helias, who actually created her top-level position at Procter & Gamble, by pitching it to the CEO; Nike’s CSO Noel Kinder, who reports to Nike COO, Eric Sprunk and Tom Berry, who is the global director of sustainable business at Farfetch.

The position of CSO could also be good for career advancement, writes VB. Tom Berry sees the role eventually becoming attached to the role of chief innovation or strategy officers.

“I’m convinced that in the coming decade, more CSOs will progress toward other C-suite roles,” says Daveu. “A successful CSO has to be a visionary thinker, a creative problem solver, an operational implementer and a collaborative leader.”

“It’s now seen as a transversal mission. It’s all about courageous leadership toward things that have not been done before, and about being able to develop an ambitious vision,” says Helias.

Article Take Aways

1) The Global Fashion Agenda’s recent Pulse of the Fashion Industry report concluded that fashion isn’t implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to offset the negative environmental and social impacts that come with their growth.

2) The vast range of skills associated with developing sustainable practices prompts the trends towards inter and intra-industry collaboration. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which P&G joined with at least 40 companies in early 2019, is an example of the number of interests involved. 

“I’m spending more of my time thinking about how to collaborate externally,” says Kinder, who is now working through the Global Fashion Agenda and the United Nations. “H&M has been really ambitious externally, and Adidas — probably our closest competitor — does a nice job of collaborating. There has not been any reluctance to working [together] on big topics like waste or climate change. The challenges we face as an industry and as a species are bigger than any one brand.”

Noel Kinder NIKE COS

Noel Kinder NIKE COS

Cynthia Rowley Asks: Is Your Swimsuit Hurting the Oceans? Change Your Ways Then

Cynthia Rowley plastic in oceans - eco-conscious swimwear.png

If anyone can benefit from surfing in the Atlantic Ocean as a form of meditation, it’s veteran designer Cynthia Rowley. Montauk’s CR Suf Camp is headquarters for a meetup between Rowley and ELLE writer Faran Krentcil.

Rowley has battled fierce financial challenges for the last year, but her life is calm compared to the state of the world’s oceans. And surfers play their part in environmental damage. “Surfing is a reminder the world is bigger than me," Rowley explains, urging me back into the sea as the tide calms down. "The ocean is bigger than any of my problems.”

“Surfers are some of the most eco-conscious people in the world,” says Rowley, who's teamed with charities like the Surfrider Foundation to help promote cleaner beaches worldwide. “But for a long time, our primary uniform—the wetsuit—was made with polyester and really harmful plastics! The irony is mind-boggling... Once I saw how much plastic was in normal neoprene, I knew [surf wear] had to evolve.”

At a time when new designers are burnishing their eco-cred, Rowley has been marketing sustainable wetsuits, one-pieces, and bikinis for nearly 12 years. Partnering with a Thai factory for 12 years, Rowley may be one of the unsung heroes in today’s battle for sick oceans.

Cynthia Rowley plastic in oceans.png

“We started with the basic stuff—figuring out how to make swimsuit ‘skin’ from recycled plastic bottles,” Rowley explains. “The ‘carbon black,’ which is the spongy filler inside neoprene? We make it with recycled tires. And then there are components nobody thinks about, like glue. Every wetsuit uses glue, and so do a ton of swimsuits. But glue is often made from harsh chemicals—we don’t want that. So we found a water-based glue instead. If some of it sheds or erodes, that’s okay—it’s water!” As for the neoprene itself, Rowley’s team makes it with limestone instead of liquid plastic, swapping out a toxic material for one that biodegrades.

And why not wear wetsuits year-round, asks Rowley. And be a poser? In response to die-hard surfers who object to wannabes co-opting their authentic fashion gear, the designer is frankly philosophical. “On the one hand, I get that some surfers treat their wetsuit like a tool, something that really belongs to them as part of surf culture, and they don’t want it co-opted as a fashion item. But we’re trying to change that, because surf culture can’t exist without sustainable living. And if you can turn one item of clothing into like three different outfits, and you love how you look? Then screw it and wear what you want.”

Stopping by CynthiaRowley.com to shop swimsuits, we note that there’s no mention of the great story behind the designer’s sustainable credentials. Searching in earnest for discussion of her commitment to sustainability, we note her CR Surf Camp story but nada on any mention of her concern for oceans.

Perhaps this is why eco-conscious fashionistas know little about Cynthia Rowley’s passion for returning our oceans to their natural glory. That’s a shame, because her story is a good one. ~ Anne

Cynthia Rowley’s CR Girls Camp in Montauk, Long Island, New York

Cynthia Rowley’s CR Girls Camp in Montauk, Long Island, New York

Burberry Launches Econyl Sustainable Nylon Collection In Both Heritage + New Icons Designs

Burberry joins Prada’s June 2019 similar announcement of launching collections made with Econyl, the sustainable nylon yarn made from regenerated fishing nets, fabric scraps and industrial plastic.

The highlights of Burberry’s Econyl capsule include its heritage trench and lightweight classic car coat silhouettes, as well as what the brand is calling new icons, the logo-print oversized cape, fleece-lined puffer and reversible bomber jacket.

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Burberry states that the introduction of the sustainable fashion collection is part of its plan to tackle what it calls an “environmental waste issue while creating a sustainable and versatile material” and is “just one example of the 50 disruptions Burberry is making throughout its supply chain to create a more circular fashion industry”.

Giulio Bonazzi, chief executive at Aquafil added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Burberry for this capsule collection. We believe innovative fibres like Econyl regenerated nylon are the future and are proud to support brands who use our yarns, transforming waste into incredible designs and raising the profile and possibilities of a more circular fashion system.”

Burberry’s Econyl collection is the latest innovative sustainable introduction, recently the fashion house collaborated with company 37.5 to use volcanic sand and waste coconut shell in thermoregulation technology for its quilted jackets, and it introduced Refibra, a new yarn produced by upcycling cotton leftovers from the Burberry Mill in Yorkshire, to make its dust bags for all jewellery and leather goods.

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adidas by Stella McCartney Unveils Fully Sustainable 'Infinite Hoodie' + 'Biofabric Tennis Dress'

STELLA MCCARTNEY UNVEILS ‘INFINITE HOODIE’ AND ‘BIOFABRIC TENNIS DRESS’ PROTOTYPES FOR ADIDAS.

STELLA MCCARTNEY UNVEILS ‘INFINITE HOODIE’ AND ‘BIOFABRIC TENNIS DRESS’ PROTOTYPES FOR ADIDAS.

Stella McCartney and adidas continue their march towards sustainable production with two new concept garments: the ‘Infinite Hoodie’ and the ‘Biofabric Tennis Dress’.

adidas by Stella McCartney ‘Infinite Hoodie’

Promoted as the world’s first fully recyclable hoodie, the ‘Infinite Hoodie’ is a joint project with textile innovation company Evrnu. The performance garment is made using 60 per cent NuCycl fiber, a material made using the recycled threads from old garments, and 40 per cent organic cotton that has been diverted from landfills.

At this moment just 50 Infinite Hoodies have been made, and gifted to adidas VIPs and influencers. Given the extraordinary advancements that adidas is making in the sustainability sector, production may debut sooner than we think.

The ‘Infinite Hoodie’ incorporates the same technology behind the adidas fully-recyclable Loop trainer, introduced in April.

ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY ‘BIOFABRIC TENNIS DRESS’

ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY ‘BIOFABRIC TENNIS DRESS’

adidas by Stella McCartney ‘Biofabric Tennis Dress’

The second product prototype, the ‘Biofabric Tennis Dress’, is a collab with Bolt Threads, a company that specializes in bioengineered sustainable materials and fibers. The tennis dress is made with cellulose blended yarn and Microsilk and is fully biodegradable at its life’s end.

“Fashion is one of the most harmful industries to the environment,” said Stella McCartney in a statement. “We can’t wait any longer to search for answers and alternatives. By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality. With adidas by Stella McCartney we’re creating high performance products that also safeguard the future of the planet.”