Sustainable luxury fashion for the modern woman
There used to be a time when luxury and sustainability were considered as complete opposite. Only a few years ago, sustainable or ethical fashion brands rather meant loose, hippy clothes in earthy tones and was synonymous with a tree hugging mentality. Those days are definitely over as some high-end designers are now spearheading eco innovation in the fashion industry and producing sustainability conscious garments that are beautifully cut with sumptuous materials that not only feel amazing but that are also good for the planet.
There’s a lot of reasons why investing in sustainable luxury is important and totally worth it. Compared to other brands, these pieces are created to last for years as they are paving the way in terms of progressive production methods and innovative textile inventions. They are also mostly transparent so you know exactly where your clothes come from and who has made them to make sure that you invest in brands paying their workers a decent wage.
Giant groups such as LVMH and Kering have already signalled a wider move in the luxury industry to support sustainability and make it aspirational. In the future, brands both big and small, high-end and fast-fashion will have to follow suit and adopt the same eco ideas to still be relevant in our society. Here are just a few of them at the top of the sustainability game and that are examples to follow.
As the Queen of sustainable luxury fashion, Stella McCartney was the first designer to introduce sustainable collections on the catwalk and has always been outspoken about her innovative ideas in the luxury industry. Since the early 00s, she has become a pioneer of alternative materials, such as vegan leather, organic cotton and recycled textiles, and cutting-edge technologies. The brand has put sustainability at the core of its mission and is setting the bar high when it comes to its social and environmental efforts.
If there’s one thing the British designer is good at, it’s collaboration. McCartney has partnered with well-known brands from adidas to Hunter boots to produce harmless, chemical-free alternatives of their best-sellers to push sustainability into the mass. She has also collaborated with textile innovation start-ups such as Bolt Threads to produce fabrics made from plants or grown in a lab. Last year, the designer left Kering to join LVMH where she now fulfils the role of special adviser on sustainable development policies to the head of the company, Bernard Arnault. No doubt that we aren’t ready to stop talking about her anytime soon.
Since winning the Copenhagen Fashion Summit’s Sustainable Denim Award in 2017, the Stockholm-based brand has been developing a sustainable jeans collection in a closed loop system which recycles its waste back into the production. Through creativity and technology, the brand has launched its first laser-printed jeans which saves up to 80 litres of water per pair. By rejecting seasonal trends, the designer is offering simple, minimalistic and timeless designs that can be adopted all year long and doesn’t go out of style.
Naim Josefi is also considering every aspect of its supply chain from materials to transportation to make it less impactful. The jeans are made of organic cotton which doesn’t contain chemicals and is transferred by truck to minimise pollution.
We strive for sustainable design and rather develop our products instead of releasing new styles constantly. My goal is to design timeless garments that can be combined with previous collections. In addition to the jeans collection, I design custom-made garments that are made to order, another form of sustainable design. – Naim Josefi
The American designer has been creating summery, luxury clothes for the modern woman for two decades but she has recently shifted her focus to concentrate on sustainable clothing. By crafting each collection using ethically sourced and recycled fabrics, she has proven that it is possible to be luxurious while caring for the environment. Her fashion collections are also fully vegan while her swimwear line uses regenerated nylon fibre made from waste and recycled plastic.
Sustainable and responsible means are used not only for production, which meets the highest environmental and human rights standards, but also for shipping, packaging and branding to be full on ethical.
With a particular focus on inclusive and petite sizing, Eileen Fisher designs luxurious and sustainable staples for real fashionable businesswomen. Instead of the linear production model used by most luxury fashion brands, the Illinois designer thinks in circular methods, recycles and gives new life to old textiles and discarded garments. She has also created a signature fabric called silk georgette crepe which is dyed without chemicals and makes refined, comfortable garments. If that wasn’t already enough, Eileen Fisher also supports environmental conservation initiatives and artisans, and empowers women to become leaders of their generation.
ZERO + MARIA CORNEJO
Founded by Maria Cornejo in 1998, the New York based brand is owned and operated solely by women in its local atelier. By putting local manufacturing and responsible design at the forefront, the label is respected all over the world and has won a long list of awards for its commitment to eco fashion. While 84% of its production is made in New York’s garment district, the rest is produced in independent factories in Italy and developed with women artisans from around the world. Each garment is made with sustainable and natural fabrics in a very particular understated style that is designed to last and make women feel good about themselves.