WHEN IT COMES to luxury, Stella McCartney avoids using leather or fur. Because of these principles, design he looks for new approaches to fashion, design and business. This has been Stella's lifelong motto. It is only natural for her to be the recipient of a Special Recognition Award for Innovation at the next week's Fashion Awards.
“It’s extraordinary that I started this conversation a long time ago and now it’s in the room and people are engaged and people aren’t angry or dismissive. Now they’re actually OK to pay some attention to that,” says the designer.
She recalls many in the fashion industry doubting about the viability of her brand when she launched it in 2001. How could anyone build a luxury fashion brand without leather shoes or bags or fur? When you're persistent in your beliefs, things happen. Stella proved the doubters wrong. Stella McCartney brand is loved by many for designs and not material it is made from.
“There’s never been any other way. I find one of the most satisfying parts of it, even today, is that 90 per cent of my customers don’t have a clue that I’m not using animal products in what I do. There is no point of me designing something that is going to become landfill, so you know, the design is the thing that comes first.”
Stella remembers, “Very early on when Tom Ford asked me to go to Gucci he said, ‘It’s ok, we’ll give up fur for you, don’t worry about the fact that you disagree with fur. We’re willing to give it up.’ And I said, 'Tom, I don’t do leather’, and he said, ‘What? You don’t do leather?’Tom had been to my shows, he’d known me really well, he started my house with me. As a fashion designer he has the most meticulous eyes I know but he hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t doing leather when he looked at the product.” She stood her ground.
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council says that a desire for sustainability is the main driver of innovation in the fashion industry. “And Stella is a true innovator. She has created awareness on sustainability across the fashion industry and acted as an inspiration for our industry and to future generations.“
"I think every business has to be more responsible. The fashion industry is the second most harmful industry to the environment. I think it’s very encouraging that the British Fashion Council are looking at this and that they’re starting a new award around this.”