Beautiful and good
When Stella McCartney (until that point a designer at Chloé) established her own fashion label in 2001, one thing was certain: she would never use leather. After all, McCartney grew up in Britain on an organic farm and has always been committed to animal rights. However, the decision was a real novelty: one fashion brand which featured her collections at Paris Fashion Week even dedicated itself to innovative materials and complex issues.
Now, almost 20 years later, the issue is more current than ever before. More and more labels are focusing on sustainability without even defining themselves as eco brands. They design modern sneakers, streetwear and high fashion. And it is taken as read that they are produced in a way which has minimal impact on the planet and other people.
Fair fashion can be defined in all sorts of ways. Some brands forgo the use of plastic or animal products such as cashmere and are developing alternative plant-based materials. The French label Veja makes sneakers from a material called C.W.L., which looks like leather but is actually made of canvas and corn husks. The brand makes light running shoes from plastic sourced from drinking bottles. Upcycling, i.e. reusing and converting raw materials, therefore plays a key role. Other brands make use of organically farmed cotton, recycled polyester or new materials such as Econyl.
When it comes to forward-thinking fashion, it is worth taking a look at Copenhagen. Copenhagen’s Fashion Week is a meeting place for the stars of Instagram dressed in colourful cloaks and is specifically committed to sustainability. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit brings together global players in order to set the agenda for a sustainable fashion business. Even Vanessa Friedman, fashion critic for the New York Times, is travelling there for it. And an awareness of environmental issues is suitably present too. The Ganni label has achieved an international following with its seventies silhouettes and printed dresses. For many years, it has been balancing out its carbon footprint and is constantly shifting over to sustainability. Its new beachwear is made entirely from recycled materials.
This French brand adopts a multi-dimensional approach to sustainability. Veja sneakers are primarily made from vegan or recycled raw materials and are produced in Porto Alegre under fair working conditions. And they look great as well.
Stella McCartney is the first big female fashion designer to focus on vegan materials. Thanks to the use of organic cotton, recycled polyester, ECONYL and raffia, 75% of her current collection is environmentally-friendly.
The leather in these minimalist sandals and boots uses a plant-based tanning process with natural tannins (free from chrome). This makes it biodegradable. Customers wishing to avoid leather completely can simply select the vegan models.
This Danish label is renowned for its prints and modern cuts. It is making increasing use of materials such as recycled polyamide and organic cotton or the alternative viscose Lenzing Ecovero. It is also reducing its use of plastic and balancing out its carbon footprint.