Stella McCartney is continuing to position itself at the forefront of sustainability, despite recent demerits received by its parent company, Kering. However, its lack of reporting and transparency on workers’ rights mirrors the allegations made against Kering.
In honor of Earth Day, Stella McCartney launched a tongue-in-cheek video campaign that serves as a public service announcement about how to be a more conscious consumer. In the six-part series, two women donned in Stella McCartney garb discuss how to take better care of garments while reducing your carbon footprint, by adopting tactics like smarter washing techniques and using eco-friendly products.
The campaign is a partnership with Clevercare, an organization dedicated to reducing the impact fashion has on the environment through tactful clothing preservation. So far, Stella McCartney has shared three of the six videos, which tackle topics like how to care for tailored pieces, denim and knitwear. According to the campaign, extending the life of an item of clothing by just three months would lead to a reduction of 5-10 percent in the carbon, water and waste footprints for the product.
It’s also an extension of the brand’s larger focus on sustainability, a topic its founder has been vocal about. McCartney has long touted production that eschews the use of animal products, including leather, and has a zero deforestation policy that mandates packaging from certified sustainable sources.
25% of the carbon footprint of clothes comes from the way we care for them. We hope that you’ll join us in considering the environment by washing your clothes less and at a cooler temperature. Follow some very simple #Clevercare tips and make your clothes last longer. Watch the series on YouTube or on #StellasWorld at #StellaMcCartney.com #LovedClothesLast #StellaCares #EarthDay @samrollinson @charlottewiggins
A video from Stella McCartney’s six-part Clevercare Earth Day campaign
However, Natalie Grillon — founder of ProjectJust, an online resource for sustainable fashion — said that, while the brand has made impressive strides, the efforts aren’t particularly novel within the industry. She noted that comparable brands like Maiyet, Vivienne Westwood and Erdem are all partaking in similar multi-stakeholder environmental ventures. (ProjectJust recently analyzed the brand as part of its ProjectJust Seal of Approval, which will officially be announced next week.)
“We were impressed with [McCartney’s] leadership in the luxury space on sustainability, as well as her environmental profit and loss work, and her commitment to mostly sustainable fabrics, where she’s moved beyond just vegan leather,” she said. “Her participation in several multi-stakeholder initiatives committed to improving livelihoods and protecting the environment is also positive, but frankly not unique among her peers.”
Last year, McCartney spoke at a Kering-sponsored panel about sustainability at the London College of Fashion, sharing how her upbringing on an organic farm influenced her sustainable fashion efforts. At the event, she announced that 53 percent of her spring line is sustainably sourced.“I don’t want to preach. I don’t want to be that person,” she said. “But I’m a firm believer that doing something small is better than doing nothing.”
She continued: “Fashion is one of the most far-behind industries of mass scale,” she said. “It gets away with murder.”
The statement is somewhat ironic, as Kering has received low marks on the sustainability front in recent months, namely in a report compiled in December 2016 by KnowTheChain, a watchdog organization that oversees human rights violations across supply chains. Kering came in fourth-to-last, receiving just 27 points on a 100-point scale.
At the time, Kering attributed the poor performance to timing in its information disclosure practices, telling Glossy in a previous article that its recent human rights efforts had not been incorporated into consideration for the KnowTheChain report.
Grillon said this lack of transparency within Kering includes Stella McCartney, who has not shared information on factory production and workers’ rights, unlike brands including Gap Inc. and Zara.
“What was discouraging was the lack of transparency on their social practices, like worker wages and factory policies,” Grillon said. “Even if you are producing mainly in Europe, that doesn’t mean there are zero risks of abuse and poor practices. We’re glad to see them taking a stand and encouraging discussion on these issues, but there’s still a lot more work to do in [McCartney’s] own supply chain.”
Despite the low marks, Kering has continued to try to expand its environmental efforts, launching an environmental profits and loss mobile app last year, designed to measure its footprint across the supply chain. The app is being used among employees at Kering’s respective brands and also as an educational tool for students at Parson’s School of Design in New York City. Kering is also collaborating with Plug and Play and Fashion for Good to support aspiring designers as part of a startup accelerator for sustainable textiles.