Stella McCartney's eco-style legacy: 5 fashion brands putting the environment first

Now consumers can shop ethical and sustainable fashion without compromising on style

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Sustainability pioneer Stella McCartney earned her environmental chops in 2001, when she launched her eponymous label. The British designer committed to never using fur or leather, instead developing new and innovative alternatives. Now, the label has solidified these ideals further, with its spring / summer 2021 show that closed Paris Fashion Week.

Titled A-Z Manifesto, recycled and deadstock materials – such as off-cuts and surplus fabrics – were used to reaffirm the label's promise to be as ethical and sustainable as possible.

Championed by Generation Z and millennials, environmental issues and cruelty-free products have shot to the top of consumer wants, as shoppers increasingly demand brand transparency. With this sector expected to make up 60 per cent of all luxury spending within the next six years, brands are wisely sitting up and taking notice.

Having been widely lambasted when she launched her label, McCartney is seemingly having the last laugh, as history proves she was on the right track all along.

Now, as other brands scramble to align themselves with shifting consumer demands, we look at five labels rethinking the traditional fashion model.

Emergency Room

Lebanese-French designer Eric Mathieu Ritter and founder of the Emergency Room. Hady Afif

Since 2018, this Beiruti label has been repurposing fabric, bedsheets and even curtains found in the markets around Lebanon into one-off unisex pieces. Founded with the aim of being an example “of how the fashion industry should actually be operating”, it has streamlined its design process to offer a limited number of styles, designed to be worn by both genders.

Relying on the fabric to make each piece unique, antique lace bedspreads have been remade into loose kimonos, while children's duvet covers are turned into reusable face masks. Despite being one of the many labels affected by the Beirut blast, it is still committed to supporting NGOs throughout Lebanon.

The Giving Movement

Founded in Dubai during the height of the pandemic, this start-up is built on an ethical, recycling model. Offering sports-inspired activewear, the fabrics have been designed from scratch to offer technical properties while staying as sustainable as possible, including hoodies made from fast-growing, water-efficient bamboo instead of cotton.

In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of every garment it makes, for every purchase, The Giving Movement donates $4 to certified charities.


Another Dubai company, Thaely is an all-vegan sneaker brand which uses only recycled plastic. The new label offers classic-looking shoes that are made using 15 plastic bags and 22 plastic bottles per sneaker – even the rubber sole is ethically sourced. Determined to never send a pair of its sneakers to landfill, shoes can be returned to the company, where they will be either be properly recycled or refurbished and sent to deprived children in India to reuse.

Chopova Lowena

Chopova Lowena use deadstock to create new, imaginative one-off pieces. Courtesy Chopova Lowena 

Founded in 2017, British-Bulgarian label Chopova Lowena has already bagged a coveted LVMH prize for its innovative approach to womenswear. Using only repurposed vintage cloth and deadstock fabrics, it creates startlingly original one-offs that are winning plaudits worldwide.

Combining unusual elements such as metal eyelets, checked wool cloth and leather, the results offer clever solutions to breathing new purpose into materials that have been discarded as waste.


Gucci has now launched a shop with resale company The RealReal to sell past season pieces and extend the life of each product. Courtesy Gucci

It is not often a multi-million dollar company boasts sustainable credentials, yet Italian luxury house Gucci has added another notch to its belt for its recent partnership with resale company The RealReal.

Launching a shop filled with old season stock from Gucci consignment stores and redundant press samples, this marks a new way for the house to handle its old stock, redirecting it away from landfill and extending its life in the booming pre-worn market.


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