Stella McCartney has declared she wants her luxury fashion label to be known as much for its technological innovations as it is for its ethical stance – and argues that the two go hand in hand.
McCartney is the cover star of the January/February issue of WIRED UK and told the publication: “Technology is, for me, the future of the conversation that we started in the fashion industry a very, very long time ago.”
The designer, who recently acquired the 50% stake in her business previously held by luxury group Kering, discussed her latest innovation, the Loop sneaker, which is 100% recyclable.
“The starting point is not design, the starting point is sustainability,” the designer said. “That took 18 months to develop. I paid for it myself. There’s zero encouragement. There’s no government policy. Nobody has given me any incentive to do this. But I’m still doing it. So if I’m doing it, anyone can do it.”
“Nobody has given me any incentive to do this. But I’m still doing it. So if I’m doing it, anyone can do it.”
Joining McCartney in the interview with WIRED UK was the label’s worldwide director of sustainability and innovation. Claire Bergkamp, who explained that most clothing is essentially destined to be waste.
“One per cent of clothing is recycled back into clothing. That means everything that is being produced in the garment industry right now is waste, basically,” Bergkamp said.
McCartney is also known for her anti-cruelty stance – since her label began in 2000 she has refused to use animal products such as leather and fur – and explained that she was very proud to have produced a vegan version of the iconic adidas Stan Smith shoe this season.
“We pushed to get it vegan and they let me. And we did it. I’m so proud. That is the future,” she said. ““I relish the thought that 99% of our customers see the Stan Smith and haven’t got a clue it’s a vegetarian shoe.”
McCartney said her desire to see clothes made ethically and to avoid having them sent to landfill drove her to create more beautiful designs. “If I don’t design things that are desirable and sexy, and a must-have for people, then it just ends up in landfill anyway,” she said.
She also said her commitment to the cause came from a place of authenticity and suggested some other brands’ messaging around ethical credentials was mere marketing.
“90% of the environmental issues that are mentioned in the fashion industry are based around marketing. They’re not heartfelt. They’re not really genuine,” she said. “I don’t want to be finished. I want to make it better.”
Read the full feature in the January/February 2019 issue of WIRED UK, available on newsstands and digital download on Thursday 6 December.
Image created by Erik Madigan Heck, shot on Google Pixel 3.