My Luxury Life: Stella McCartney

The British fashion designer, formerly the creative director of Chloé, started her eponymous label in 2001 in partnership with the French luxury goods holding company Kering. In keeping with her deep-rooted conservation efforts and Kering’s active Sustainabilty Department, McCartney famously does not use leather or fur in her designs.
British fashion designer Stella McCartney is a proponent of ethical trends in the fashion industry. Photo by Mary McCartney
British fashion designer Stella McCartney is a proponent of ethical trends in the fashion industry. Photo by Mary McCartney

What does sustainability mean to you?

It’s just the way I was brought up. It’s been ingrained in me to respect fellow creatures and to be mindful of how one approaches life, so it was a no-brainer for me to take that into the way I conduct myself in business.

When did you become interested in the idea of ethical fashion?

It came naturally to me. My first job is to make desirable, luxurious, beautiful clothing and accessories that women want to buy. But I will always take the opportunity to use a beautiful organic fabric. I obviously don’t use any animal skins or furs, which have a huge impact on the planet. My first decision is always based on: can I do this in a more environmental way without sacrificing design? If I can, then there is no reason not to.

is there a particular charitable cause that you hold close to your heart?

I am a big supporter of many charities and organisations. For example, we have the sustainability programmes in Patagonia where we work with local communities and help secure trade for them that is very kind to the animals, in particular, kind to the sheep. But also what is critical with the wool trade is the replenishing of the soil, to give back the nutrients. So we are looking after the soil, the animals and the people.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I am by no means perfect, but I do really think we should try to act responsibly whenever we can, and this includes the fashion industry. Sustainability is important, recycling is important. I think it’s a mindset; everyone can do really simple things to make a difference and every little contribution counts. But there is a long way to go.

What one piece of advice would you offer consumers to help them become more conscientious?

The first step is to gather information and to know that every little bit helps. It’s about doing the best we can.

What ethical brands do you love?

There are tonnes of heroes I have outside of the industry, but in fashion I can only think of Katharine Hamnett, who is championing this kind of thing. She’s very vocal and talented and she is a cool woman. Unfortunately, I do not have many peers who are this way at all, but I hope that in the near future I can list a million eco-friendly brands in fashion.

Who inspires you?

My inspiration is always women in general; what they need and what they want.

You don’t use leather or fur in your designs – but do you think the fashion industry’s attitudes to fur are changing for the worse?

I think a lot [of companies] don’t have the information, or they’re not aware of the impact. I think a lot of them don’t care, sadly. I’d definitely cut out fur, absolutely first and foremost because there’s no reason to do it. It’s an extraordinarily cruel and destructive material to use in fashion.

Published: June 4, 2015 04:00 AM


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