Stella McCartney’s Fashion-Forward Movement as a Rebuttal to Fast Fashion
If anyone loves fashion or sustainability, or even both, then consider this week an eventful week for TIPA and Stella McCartney. Probably more so for Stella since this week she presented her 2018 Fall-Winter fashion collection in the beautiful city of Paris. And to compliment her show, Stella stayed committed to her sustainable mission by sending her invitations in TIPA’s very own, fully compostable packaging, and it looks good.
Not only was the premiere a success, but her ethically faux fur and vegan leather fashion line since 2001 emulates her decision for choosing TIPA’s packaging for her A-list invitees. With a sleek silver lining, and front cover stating “I am 100% compostable (& so are you!)”, TIPA’s packaging is more than just a personal mantra for Stella to her fans, it’s a call to action for the rest of the fashion industry.
In contrast to what would be considered sustainable fashion, there is the ubiquitous and ever-growing industry of fast fashion. Fast fashion is a recent, yet well-known term coined in the beginning of the 21st century from the utilization of outsourced, cheap labor and industrial costs – primarily via third-world countries. Cheaper prices and incentivized marketing tactics has lead, according to a McKinsey Global Fashion Index, to an outstanding doubling in clothing production, and a 60% rise in garment purchases for an average consumer each year. With an industry rise of 5.5% each year in the past 10 years, and an average of 5 collection turnovers a year – Zara having 24 – the question resonates over why would fashion retail giants like Zara and H&M to ever change their business model when it still works so well?
The reason, because evidence has already shown there to be a definite cultural shift emanating in the fashion industry from fast, seasonally ever-changing, to a more conscious look at how we consume and dispose of our products in the past few years. It seems consumers, in fact, seek an engaging, almost personal experience with the brands they are buying. Their demand for socially conscious and transparent products only grows in the height of social awareness and exposure from around the globe. Whether a consumer questioned or didn’t question the presumably low factory wages, conditions, or even environmental consequences connected to their favorite pair of low-cost jeans, today, growing awareness inadvertently exposes consumers to the consequences.
The Paris show on Monday addressed not only compostable packaging, but of course, Stella’s ethical brand, as a deep-rooted issue in the fashion industry. And as a slew of formidable avenues of social awareness drive a cause for adamant change, more consumers are buying a brand, not for the product, but for what the product represents. A recent study by B Corporation, a network of certified, sustainable companies, says “purpose-led businesses grow 28x faster than the national average”, in the UK. In addition, 66% of consumers and 48% of employees look for businesses that have a high level of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Aside from fashion moguls like Stella McCartney, H&M has also started an initiative to counter the negative effects of the fashion industry by starting a new recycled line, while working with programs to challenge industry’s current, fragmented supply chain. However, even though some companies have implemented a fashion-forward movement, there is still a big difference and a large gap from what should be defined as sustainable, and what is, unfortunately, projected in the market. But as Stella courageously says in her interview with the Guardian, “It’s doable. I’m here showing everyone you can actually do it and hopefully there is no compromise. That’s the mindset you need to get around. You can actually have it all.” Currently, the movement is led by consumers’ choice to buy from smaller, ethically-driven companies. So if the decision came down to a few wealthy shareholders, and the mass consumer, it’s interesting to think who would be the most effective for change.