Schooled by Stella Mc­Cart­ney

A chat about sus­tain­able prac­tices in fash­ion with Stella Mc­Cart­ney is an ed­u­ca­tion. Her sus­tain­abil­ity knowl­edge runs deep – so much so she can eas­ily catch you out on your own re­search. She wants to over­haul the in­cred­i­bly waste­ful in­dus­try that she’s i

Emirates Woman - - Contents - WORDS: GE­ORGIE BRADLEY

Fir­ing on all cylin­ders is Stella Mc­Cart­ney’s nor­mal mode. The many-hats-wear­ing-de­signer is in Dubai for a whis­tle-stop 24 hours and it’s her se­cond time in the city in three years. In fash­ion, travel is as much an ex­pec­ta­tion as de­liv­er­ing a new col­lec­tion each sea­son – but Stella “tries to keep it to a min­i­mum be­cause I have the kids” (that’s three).

She’s sat in a thick strobe of af­ter­noon light which il­lu­mi­nates her gla­cial blue eyes. Tuck­ing into a glass bowl of roasted cashew nuts, she’s tak­ing a brief hour to do me­dia in­ter­views be­tween a morn­ing of vis­it­ing her bou­tique in The Dubai Mall and a late-night din­ner with the press. No frills, no fuss, she’s ev­ery bit un-celebrity with her shoes strewn across the car­pet, her hair scruffed up into a wispy pony­tail and sit­ting crossed-legged in a child-like way.

De­spite en­ter­ing the fash­ion world through a wide door­way (fa­mously be­ing Paul Mc­Cart­ney’s daugh­ter) Stella is a house­hold name in her own right as she con­tin­ues to rein­vent the fash­ion wheel with sus­tain­able prac­tices in fash­ion. She is es­sen­tially build­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that suits her – a kind of en­vi­ron­ment that isn’t re­spon­si­ble for “cut­ting down 100,000,000 trees” as per last year’s records, which is set to in­crease this year.

De­spite seek­ing new meth­ods to source ma­te­ri­als (mak­ing ma­te­ri­als rather than us­ing what’s al­ready avail­able) to be as sus­tain­able as pos­si­ble, Stella Mc­Cart­ney is still a lux­ury house with qual­ity and style at the fore­front of its ethos. And more and more Stella’s look­ing at ways to cre­ate fash­ion with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the planet. So far, she’s lead­ing the way. You’re at the fore­front of fash­ion’s cleaner pro­duc­tion move­ment. What small things have you started do­ing in your day-to-day pro­duc­tion­that’shelp­ing­in­abig­way? The biggest im­pact that we have is at the sup­ply chain level and so what we end up do­ing is de­vel­op­ing our own fab­rics. The start­ing point of sus­tain­abil­ity is where you source from. Noth­ing is done small. We try to make it easy and ef­fort­less for the con­sumer. If you are a con­scious con­sumer, you can come to Stella Mc­Cart­ney and a small thing you can do is buy a non-leather bag and that has a huge im­pact en­vi­ron­men­tally. The biggest im­pact we have is not us­ing leather or an­i­mal­based prod­ucts (in­clud­ing glues that aren’t an­i­mal used). It does take a lot more work though. It took us 17 years to make a non-leather bag.

AtStel­laMcCart­neyHQwe­haveim­ple­mented small yet ef­fec­tual things. We have fil­tered water, glass bot­tles etc. We work with a tech­ni­cal brand called Air Labs and they re­move all of the pol­lu­tion in the air in our Bond Street store, so that we have pure oxy­gen com­ing into the of­fice. Where do you stand on the topic of fash­ion vs. more mind­ful fash­ion? Is there a fine line with pro­duc­ing lots of col­lec­tions in an un-en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way and pro­duc­ing slower col­lec­tions and risk­ing your­busi­ness­model? You can have healthy rev­enues from cre­at­ing less. There’s plenty of busi­ness mod­els in the fash­ion in­dus­try that have re­ally one prod­uct that sells over and over which is about time­less de­sign and in­cred­i­ble high qual­ity of man­u­fac­ture. It’s how you run your busi­ness. At Stella Mc­Cart­ney we have a very con­scious way of do­ing busi­ness – we don’t sub­scribe to fast fash­ion for many rea­sons: on av­er­age fast fash­ion is worn three times be­fore it’s ei­ther land filled or burned. We like to cre­ate pieces that are made in­cred­i­bly well and sourced in­cred­i­bly well, that will last you in de­sign and man­u­fac­ture your whole life.

To­day a lady came into the store and she was wear­ing a piece that she had bought 12 years ago and it looked age­less. It looked in­di­vid­ual. If you can use a raw ma­te­rial that’s not cut­ting down trees or not killing an­i­mals or us­ing tonnes of water, why wouldn’t you? Science and tech­nol­ogy – are these things you’re­makinguse­of­more­and­more? We are work­ing with some guys in San Fran­cisco who are grow­ing silk in labs. For me that is the fu­ture of the planet – not just in fash­ion – but in food and medicine. But it’s also busi­ness: if they can fig­ure out how to use $500 bil­lion worth of waste that the fash­ion in­dus­try leaves be­hind ev­ery year and use it for busi­ness, then not only are they sav­ing the planet they have a very healthy busi­ness model. Un­less you have the busi­ness back­ing the prod­uct, you don’t re­ally have a voice to have a sub­stan­tial con­ver­sa­tion. How can the next gen­er­a­tion’s fash­ion de­sign­ers be more con­scious about their sus­tain­abil­ity prac­tices? It’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing ques­tion right now, be­cause sus­tain­abil­ity is be­ing spo­ken about across the board. The way peo­ple are liv­ing their lives right now­is­be­ing­putin­to­ques­tion,soit’sav­eryrel­e­vant topic. Be­ing a con­scious con­sumer is very crit­i­cal, mostly for the next gen­er­a­tion be­cause they are more in­formed and have greater ac­cess. Right now, fash­ion houses are hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions and pay­ing at­ten­tion be­cause peo­ple like you are writ­ing about it and con­sumers are ask­ing those ques­tions and de­mand­ing some­thing bet­ter, with a mod­ern ap­proach to an old fash­ion sys­tem. I think the youth will not stand for any­thing less and busi­nesses are al­ways tar­get­ing the fu­ture buyer and thus have to be rel­e­vant. New de­sign­ers re­ally have to mean it. The con­ver­sa­tion is def­i­nitely hap­pen­ing but it’s whether or not de­sign­ers re­ally mean it. Au­then­tic­ity is an­other strong trig­ger word that needs to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion too. How­doy­oushake­offtheinevitable­ques­tion abouty­our­famevi­ay­our­dad?Doe­sit­bother oren­dearyou? I find it very re­fresh­ing that you’ve asked me that be­cause I haven’t been asked about my dad in years. I’m so proud of my dad and he’s proud of me. When I was first start­ing out ob­vi­ously that con­ver­sa­tion was num­ber one on the list but now I don’t get asked as much. I’m in a good place with his con­nec­tion to every­thing that I do – I’m very grate­ful and blessed for the par­ents that have been so help­ful in my ca­reer. I don’t think I would be around if I was just Paul Mc­Cart­ney’s daugh­ter and didn’t have a prod­uct. Doy­our­world­sev­er­co­a­lesce? Some­times – he re­cently used some of my clothes for a mu­sic video. His mu­sic is also in my Bond Street store – it’s three hours of orig­i­nal Paul Mc­Cart­ney mu­sic, so if you want to get an authen­tic mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence of his work, you have to visit the store. Whatarey­our­sus­tain­abil­i­ty­goals­for2019? I would like for Stella Mc­Cart­ney to be a ze­roim­pact brand, which we are get­ting to­wards. My per­sonal goals are to lead by ex­am­ple – in or­der for that to hap­pen, the core of it is de­sign and how we com­mu­ni­cate what we do and our mes­sage for the rest of the world.

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