Stella McCartney on Designing for the Modern Woman

by Evon Chng
We marvel at Stella McCartney's modern approach to consuming luxury, her commitment to being an industry change agent, and her quest in perfecting Stella's world


Stella McCartney poses a question to me, one which I do not have an answer to: "Do you know what viscose are made of? People don't," she says. "And the new idea of luxury is knowing where your fashion comes from too."

Her eponymous brand just turned 11, and is one of the few luxury brands that commits to a cruelty-free trade, promoting sustainability and eco-consciousness. So passionate to change she is, that the brand's Winter '17 campaign was shot in a landfill to illustrate the fashion industry's wastage.

But just how would the Stella McCartney brand stand in this time and age, where the sheer basis of luxury denotes having to own an exotic leather bag, a plush mink coat or both? We caught up with the effervescence designer at her recent rooftop party at the roof of Andaz Tokyo to chat about sustainability, fashion, and more.

Is the Stella McCartney woman environmentally mindful?

I don't think she neccesarily is. Some are, but the majority of them may not even know that the Fallabella bag is not made of leather. Producing a eco-leather bag that looks just like the real thing is my best achievement. It is not the consumer's fault that I don't want to work with leather or fur, and it is my personal mission to produce a piece that looks even better than the fashion alternatives out there that use animal by-products. We have just partnered with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation to do our part for the environment, through the Ocean Legend project. We designed a bag using recycled polyester made from plastic bottles that are found in the ocean.


What is the process of sourcing for the right materials like?

The fashion industry is the second most harmful industry to our planet, and we have to constantly find new alternative ways to produce our pieces in a more environmentally-friendly way. Many people do not know that, but viscose is one of the most widely used materials in fashion that is derived from trees and is extremely harmful to the environment. We made a commitment and spent three years developing and sourcing a sustainable viscose, taking on development cost, time, and the effort as a company.

"I'm not interested in landfill. Anything from Stella McCartney should last you a lifetime and it should also be handed down to the next generation."

What are your favourite pieces from the collections?

I'm a big fan of the Falabella bag. It is one of the pieces that i've used for many years and it makes a good investment piece because of how timeless the design is. I also like the Elyse shoes. They give you like three inches of height with absolute comfort. Our newest release, the Eclypse sneaker takes on a sporty vibe.

What is the hardest part about designing for women today?

To deliver in design and to be sustainable in fashion is not something that comes easily, but we try. Majority of fashion works in a traditional way. For example, it's not easy if I want to produce something with sequins. Sequins are made up of PVC, an oil-based material that is cancerous to the people handling the material during production. There's a limitation to the design aspect, and the world is yet not ready for it.

This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of L'Officiel Singapore (out now on newsstands and Magzter).

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