The first wave of sustainability was a little indecisive because it had to challenge an industry that created a lot of waste and pollution. Both the producers and the consumers were unsure about the direction that it needed to be taken.
Slow fashion, as opposed to fast fashion tries to make long-lasting garments that doesn’t follow trends. This is a difficult task because the engine of fashion is in constant transformation. It also ignores the human nature that has a desire for novelty. Slow fashion focus on classic styles that are not following or creating any trends in the hope of becoming a part of a timeless wardrobe.
In theory it is a good idea. In practice, the result is less than exciting and consists mainly basic garments made from hemp or organic cotton.
Luxury Fashion Houses
The game-changer is the entrance of big luxury houses. When the luxury fashion houses accepted the challenge to move towards sustainability, all the industry changed. During the discussion at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate, held in November 2018, it was emphasized that the next generations expect responsible practices from luxury brands.
According to Business of Fashion, the conclusion was;
“a key point of luxury is desire … we must create a desire to be sustainable.”
This raises the question; How do the high-end fashion designers aim to make sustainability desirable?
Stella McCartney has always been a pioneer. She is the most prominent name that comes to mind when we think about sustainable luxury. Her brand is the industry’s gold standard when thinking about running a high-fashion company without using the textiles that have traditionally defined luxury.
Stella Mc Cartney never used fur, leather or PVC in her collections. As a lifelong vegetarian, her collections were always vegan and cruelty-free. All her materials look and feel expensive because she invested a lot in material research, creating luxurious fake fur and substitutes for leather or, how she calls it, “skin-free-skin”.
Her best selling bag, Fallabella is made from vegetarian leather and recycled plastic bottles. Instead of silk, she uses synthetic spider silk. The material is tough and elastic but, unlike synthetics such as nylon and polyester which are derived from petroleum, it is also biodegradable. The precious lesson of Stella McCartney is that without material innovation we cannot have a sustainable luxury.
Versace is one of the major fashion houses that took effective measures and created a sustainable value chain. In practice, that means that the same code of conduit will be respected by the Maison and its collaborators. As of 2019, Versace is also fur-free. Fur comprised only a minor percentage of the House product’s line, but now the company has decided to cut it completely.
Donatella Versace said
“Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion.”
When a major fashion house makes such a statement it’s a good sign because it changes the way we see luxury.
Sustainability in Denmark
In Denmark, there are quite a few brands that have sustainability as a core value. In this article, we will be focusing on few of them, being aware that the number of company that take effective environmental steps is much larger.
Barbera I Gongini has a strategy that aims to prolong the life cycle of their own clothes. The fabrics are tested for harmful substances and sourced from ethical factories. When sourcing, the company takes into consideration the working conditions and the wages of the factory workers. Even more so, the garments unsold from previous collections are up-cycled into new clothes. The aim of the company is to come as close as possible to the goal of zero waste.
Designer’s Remix started as a brand that made unique pieces from clothes that were never sold, therefore the idea of remixing.Today they have a very strong sustainable strategy that includes both the social and the aesthetic.
Creative director Charlotte Eskildsen said in an interview for Copenhagen Fashion Week,
“What it really comes down to is showing that we can make something ‘sexy sustainable’. To demonstrate what can be made sustainable with no compromise in design, thereby taking part in changing consumers mindsets. “
Designers Remix Preloved aims to create a closed loop system. Customers submit their used Designer’s Remix items, get a voucher for a new purchase and can witness how the clothes are reused for new designs. The company also uses plastic waste from the ocean as a material for their garments. The ambition strategy puts Designer’s Remix as a front-runner in sustainability.
Stine Goya is another Danish designer interested in sustainability. For her AW2019 capsule collection, she relied solely on sustainable sourced materials. The fabrics were made from hemp and silk certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, while the linings were made in a recycled polyester mix. The collection was presented during Copenhagen Fashion Week on January 30th, 2019.
We are sure that what we witness now is just the beginning of a major revolution in fashion. More and more luxury houses will join the challenge to change one of the most harmful and polluting industries in the world.
The reason is simple: The future will be sustainable or it will not be at all.