It is now, more than ever, fashionable to be green. Thanks to major brands including H&M and the trailblazer for eco-friendly high fashion, Stella McCartney, the myth that in order to be green your clothes have to be bland and made of hemp is being dispelled. Despite Donald Trump’s recent claims that climate change does not exist, this generation has been preoccupied with trying to ensure that we are reducing our carbon footprint and ultimately saving the planet. From recycling to making sure we remember our carrier bags when we head to Sainsbury’s — forking out 5p for a plastic bag is too much of a financial stretch — many of us are making choices that contribute to a greener way of living. So why has the fashion industry neglected to jump fully on board?
In an age where consumers order clothes and expect them to be on their doorstep the next day, organically sourced clothing is less accessible, not to mention more expensive. However, major high street brand H&M has acknowledged the necessity of sustainable fashion with its ‘Conscious Collection’ and subsequent ‘Conscious’ beauty range. The ‘Conscious Collection’ includes clothing sourced from organically sourced materials. H&M went one step further from simply creating organic basics with their ‘Conscious Exclusive’ fashion range, which gained an elite celebrity following from Solange Knowles to Jessica Chastain. For their 2016 range, the design team took their inspiration from the archives at The Louvre and the centuries of Haute Couture. The collection included blouses, maxi dresses and a personal favourite, a stunning organic silk collarless coat. Their Conscious Exclusive range proves that H&M are serious about creating stylish but sustainable clothing for the masses, demonstrating that organic does not have to be in the style of hippie apparel.
Whilst H&M have been major endorsers of sustainable fashion on the high street, it is Stella McCartney who has made waves and paved the way in the world of high fashion. McCartney is passionate about being green, her offices are powered by green energy and she too includes organic cotton in her clothing and also rejects using leather in her designs. Making clothing requires a great amount of materials, energy and labour plus exposure to harmful chemicals, thus ethical fashion addresses all of these concerns.
When asked in an interview on her website whether she tackles all of these issues in her fashion line, McCartney replied that the brand is ‘committed to ethical production’ and that they ‘recently joined the Ethical Trading Initiative’ and began ‘working with the National Resources Defense Council on its Clean by Design program’. Unfortunately the fashion industry has not caught up with the demand for organically sourced materials, and McCartney states that colours are very limited in organic ranges and they lack the richness and texture of non-organic clothes. At present, McCartney accepts that is not possible to create luxury fashion out of completely sustainable materials. Perhaps in the future, when more designers join the green movement, sustainable fashion will be more widely recognised as an option for luxury lovers.
It seems that the fashion industry is behind the times when it comes to saving the planet, with only a handful of designers embracing a sustainable way of fashion. However, with fashion powerhouses such as H&M and Stella McCartney driving the movement forward and challenging the myth that green fashion is bland and unstylish, the future is looking bright. These brands have proved that you can help the environment whilst still looking fabulous. I have never heard a better reason to go shopping.