The environmental initiatives taken by luxury brand Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney is a luxury fashion brand. The designer might be best known because of her famous parents, Paul and Linda McCartney. Still, Stella has made a name for herself through her animal-free and environmentalism efforts that she exposes in all of her designs.
Since launching in 2001, Stella McCartney has not used any leather, fur, skins, feathers, or animal glues in any of their designs. Between 2008 and 2010, Stella McCartney started using organic cotton and went completely PVC (a synthetic plastic polymer) free. From there, the company has been active in using plastic-based resins and plastics, biodegradable rubber, vegan alternatives to animal leather, recycled polyester, recycled cashmere, and recycled nylon, among many other environmental initiatives.
One of Stella McCartney’s newest environmental designs is the creation of VEGEA. VEGEA is a grape-based vegan alternative to animal leather. It is sourced from agricultural waste found in wineries in Northern Italy. The material is made from all of the grape waste, including the pulp, seeds, skins and stems. It is mixed with vegetable resins and water-based polyurethane, creating a material resembling animal leather.
Stella McCartney was also the first company to develop the world’s first biodegradable, vegan material, which embodies their circular and nature-positive values. Bananatex is made from naturally growing Abaca banana plants found in the Philippines. The Abaca plant has several stalks that can be harvested once annually and can regenerate fully within a year. The stalks can be turned into durable, waterproof yarn and completely plastic-free. The product is fully biodegradable at the end of its life.
To ensure the brand is doing all it can for the environment, Stella McCartney uses the Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) tool to help understand their environmental impact. This tool is used in every aspect of their business, from the raw material used to how the clothes are made to how they are sold in stores.
The EP&L tool measures greenhouse gas emissions, water use, water pollution, land use, air pollution and waste across the entire supply chain. In 2014, for example, their EP&L revealed that although cashmere was used in only 0.1% of the material used, it accounted for 42% of their total environmental impact. This led the company to switch their use of cashmere to reengineered cashmere yarn. This switch helped cashmere to represent only 11% of their total impact.
Stella McCartney is also committed to adding circularity to all its products. In Spring 2023, the company launched its first consumer-facing product take-back and recycling scheme. Currently, the scheme is specifically for their Close-the-Loop Parka, which, when returned, can be fully regenerated into new yarn at the end of its life. The ultimate goal is that all their materials can be biodegraded or captured and recycled infinitely. The jacket is made out of infinitely regenerable material that can be repurposed into new yarns and redesigned over and over. Stella McCartney even decided to remove their iconic chain hanging loop to ensure that no trace of the jacket cannot be recycled in their system.
Stella McCartney is a trailblazer in all things environment within the fashion industry. The company is also a great example of how luxury brands can be successful, sustainable and have a minimal impact on the planet. It is also an additional bonus that Stella McCartney has committed to the environment since day one. The company highlights how natural waste can be used to create quality products and that we don’t need to harm or use animals in fashion. We’re excited to see what Stella McCartney will design next and how the brand will further reduce its environmental impact.