Stella McCartney is putting the spotlight on sustainable fashion with the launch of the Stella Sustainable Market at Paris Fashion Week.
Designer Stella McCartney is leading the way in the world of sustainable fashion, not only through her collections but also by promoting innovative materials and circular fashion principles. The renowned designer’s latest endeavor, being unveiled at Paris Fashion Week, aims to redefine the runway show by coupling it with the Stella Sustainable Market. The market isn’t merely a complementary feature but serves as the runway’s backdrop, housing 22 stalls that offer a glimpse into the future of eco-conscious fashion.
The market will showcase a range of material innovation companies that are working with Stella McCartney. These companies include Nona Source, an LVMH-owned platform that deals in deadstock materials, and Keel Labs, innovators behind the seaweed-based yarn Kelsun. Also on display are Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), creators of the plant-based, plastic-free leather called Mirum, and Radiant Matter, a company specializing in cellulose sequins. Mabel Industries will present vegan leather made from apple waste in Italian juice and jam production lines.
Also on offer are vintage pieces including cotton merchandise from the 1970s band Wings, co-founded by Stella’s parents Paul and Linda McCartney.
“We have been pioneering cruelty-free, conscious materials for over 20 years. In that time, we have collaborated with incredible innovators who I want to support in whatever way I can,” McCartney told Vogue Business “We’re working in such a modern, exciting way, and I wanted to showcase those innovations in the market stalls and the concept of the Spring/Summer 2024 show.”
This commitment to sustainability isn’t just a trend for McCartney — it’s a long-standing principle that dates back to her early career. In 1997, McCartney replaced Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé and made the groundbreaking decision to avoid using real leather or fur. Her eponymous brand, launched in 2004, was one of the first luxury labels to feature leather alternatives on the runway.
The Spring/Summer 2024 collection is designed with Keel Lab’s algae-based yarn Kelsun and NFW’s Mirum. Remarkably, ninety-five percent of the entire collection is composed of materials that the company deems responsible, showing a steady increase from previous seasons.
“Success looks like these sustainable alternatives becoming the standard. We absolutely need to support these innovators, or they will not make it. I am such a believer in putting your money where your mouth is; I do it every day with the next-gen materials and technologies we use here at Stella, as well as through my SOS investment fund,” McCartney said.
Despite the innovation, challenges abound in commercial adoption. Even with backing from companies like Stella McCartney, Adidas, and Kering, alternative materials like Mylo — leather made from Bolt Threads’ fungi used in McCartney’s recent bags — have struggled. “It’s critical that larger brands are willing to make the necessary investments in biomaterials, like Kelsun, to bring them to scale,” noted Aleksandra Gosiewski, co-founder and COO of Keel Labs.
She showcased a range of fabrics created from unconventional sources such as seaweed and apples, beauty products from her own LVMH-owned label, and a variety of recycled items, including plastic bottles.
Securing luxury clients remains a considerable hurdle for these innovative companies. However, the drive for sustainability is gaining traction, especially as public sentiment shifts against the use of animal-derived materials in the fashion industry.
“I want everyone to feel as engaged and excited about these sustainable solutions as we do, and the best way to do that is for them to come see for themselves,” said McCartney.
The designer’s PFW spring showcase was set against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Following the show, which featured both male and female models, she spoke to journalists, including celebrities like Paris Hilton, Chris Rock, and Tony Parker, who had attended the event. She stated that “anyone can wear this stuff.”
“Anything is better than nothing: just meet people, learn about things, try to take a water bottle next time you go out and a carrier bag next time you shop and stop consuming quite so much fashion because we know we don’t need it,” she emphasized.
The runway show featured models in flowing capes, gold jacquard suits, and colorful floral prints. Mirrored brooches designed by Andrew Logan added a touch of glamour. However, when asked about the potential risk of hosting an outdoor event, McCartney revealed she didn’t have a backup plan for rain. “We don’t ever do a wet weather option, I’m always like, I trust in you mother earth,” she quipped.
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