Stella McCartney: Is Sustainability In Danger of Becoming a One-Off Trend?

Muchaneta Kapfunde | @FashNerdEditor

In honor of Fashion Week, we have decided to take a closer look at Fashion’s favourite darling and sustainability advocate Stella McCartney.

When one thinks of Stella McCartney, there are 3 words that come to mind; Eco friendly, Meat Free, Sustainability.


The Central St Martins graduate and former creative director of Chloe launched Stella McCartney in 2001. The lifelong vegetarian is famous for not using any leather or fur in any of her collections, but these days she is becoming more known as pioneer of sustainable fashion.

“Everyone can do simple things to make a difference,every little bit really does count”- Stella McCartney “

What we love about Stella McCartney is that she is all about designing clothes that are meant to last, and that when it comes to sustainability she believes in creating pieces that aren’t going to get burnt, that aren’t going to landfills and that aren’t going to damage the environment. Every season, Stella makes it her goal to make sure that each garment is more sustainable than the last.

The 2014 Green Carpet Challenge, Hosted by Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Anna Wintour, and Natalie Massenet
The 2014 Green Carpet Challenge, Hosted by Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Anna Wintour, and Natalie Massenet

The philosophy at Stella McCartney is that “it is better to do something than nothing”. She lives by the basic principle of, “Sustainability is important, as is recycling. Everyone can do simple things to make a difference, and every little bit really does count”. She is a designer that believes that it is the job of fashion designers to turn things around and look at how they can make for example their dress, where they make their dress and what materials they are using.

For Stella, creating sustainable and eco-friendly collections comes down to her upbringing. She was raised as a vegetarian on an organic farm in the English countryside way. What I love about her belief is that it is not based on the fact that she doesn’t eat animals or think that millions of animals each year shouldn’t be killed for the sake of fashion, it is because she believes that there is a connection between fur and leather and the environment.


Her stance on not using leather in any of her collections is mainly based on how Tanneries are one of the top polluters on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” list, a list that identifies the most critical industrial sites in need of environmental clean-up.

Stella is a designer who does not mince her words. She is more doer than sayer, so it came as no surprise that she joined the Ethical Trading Initiative. She is working with the National Resources Defense Council on its Clean by Design program and they are the first luxury brand to team up with them and work to improve the environmental impact of textile mills.

Sustainability “is in danger of becoming a trend or a one-off”

For a label that is all about overall sustainability of the brand, we are not surprised that she faces some obstacles when it comes to creating more sustainable products. One of the problems McCartney has highlighted is the issue of the very limited fabrics available in organic ranges. The ones that are available do not have the same richness of texture, but that disadvantage does not stop Stella from seeking more sustainable material options in a market that hasn’t quite caught up with the demand for sustainable materials. According to McCartney, the solution will come in the shape of new techniques, naturally sourced yarns, organic fabrics and low-impact dyes.


When it comes to changing people’s perception of eco/sustainable garments, Stella has admitted that she is aware that the word eco immediately conjures up images of “oatmeal-coloured garments or garments that are oversized or lacking in any sort of luxury or beauty or detailing or desirability”. She believes that organic clothes do not need to be ugly and that a consumer should not have to compromise.

Stella McCartney is doing it right because she is successfully designing organically sustainable collections that do not sacrifice style. The first time you look at her collections you do not even realise that she has designed sustainable garments. A faux leather jacket looks just as good as real one, and that is no easy feat.

The designer is not one to preach, but we love that she lives what she believes. The busy mum of four’s home life is all about recycling and using electricity that comes from wind power. It is great that she is proving to be a designer that is not just jumping onto the band wagon, especially with sustainability being accused of being a trend for the fashion industry. On that, McCartney has shared on her blog that anything “is in danger of becoming a trend or a one-off” but that does not mean it is not a market that needs to be catered too. Designers need to take note of high street brands that are trying to provide fair trade and organic products to their consumers.

With more consumers demanding products made in environmental-friendly way, Stella McCartney is a woman on a mission. A environmental-concerned pioneer of sustainable fashion McCartney is not alone in this noble cause, she has inspired the likes of Kuben Edwards and Natalia Allen. They are all playing their part in ensuring that sustainability’s voice continues to get stronger. I am sure that with the advancement of technology it is only a matter of time before this ‘trend’ becomes the norm.

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