DRESSING
FOR SUSTAINABILITY
THE NEW WORLD OF PLANET-FRIENDLY FASHION
Today, the fashion industry’s main priority is sustainability. Here are some of its latest developments.

Isabel Marant Fall-Winter 2021 Collection – Ibridgea Coat, Luz Pouch and Pompon Fringes. Courtesy Isabel Marant

In recent years, the fashion industry has reckoned with its environmental impact, and this season, several brands are addressing it head on. Kering, the luxury group that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and others, is going completely fur free, starting with Fall 2022 collections. Gucci released their Demetra fabric this year, named after Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and harvest. It is a vegan leather-like “luxury material for an evolving world.” Made of viscose, wood pulp, biobased polyurethane and other compounds, creating the material greatly reduces pollution compared to traditional leather production and tanning, while maintaining the same luxury quality. It has been introduced in three sneaker models–Gucci Basket, Gucci New Ace and Gucci Rhyton–and its underlying science will soon be revealed to the fashion industry at large in 2022.

Valentino is going fur free in 2022 and closing their REDValentino secondary line in 2024 to move away from fast fashion, in order to focus on artisanal, sustainable production.

Valentino Fall/Winter 2021 Menswear Collection – Long Wool Coat, Wool Poncho, Turtleneck Sweater, Cotton-Poplin Shirt, Wool Pants and Rockstud Leather Bracelet. Courtesy Valentino

Prada has also created a sustainable material: ECONYL, a nylon fabric made from recycled plastic waste. It is used in Re-Nylon, Prada’s new line of its iconic nylon textile bags, making the fabric closer to carbon neutrality than traditional nylon.

Prada Re-Nylon Collection – Re-Nylon Gabardine Sleeveless Dress, Re-Edition 2005 Re-Nylon Bag. Courtesy Prada

According to McKinsey’s retail report, Biodiversity: The Next Frontier in Sustainable Fashion, the high land and water usage necessary for raw material production and material preparation—what ECONYL and Demetra solve for—is the greatest threat to biodiversity. That includes cotton agriculture, the creation of wood-based natural fibers, livestock breeding and natural fibers from wild animals.

Gucci New Ace Sneaker, Demetra Collection. Courtesy Gucci

The reckoning of values does not simply stop at materials and manufacturing itself, but has turbo-charged new design conceptions as well. Isabel Marant’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection, for example, celebrates the collective, and is unabashedly created for partying, with a video release titled “An ode to the long-lost parties”. Inspired by the folk and libertarian spirit of the ‘60s and the techno scene of the ‘90s, it is a call to come together again, safely and sustainably.

Isabel Marant is giving brand credit to customers who donate their garments to its new resale platform, in line with the fast-growing secondhand luxury market.

Isabel Marant Fall/Winter 2021 Collection – Left: Giny Top, Girokia Pants and Milo Sunglasses. Right: Epanima Coat and Sophy Sunglasses. Courtesy Isabel Marant

The Valentino Act Collection is likewise romantic, “nourished by memories but not nostalgic.” Brunello Cucinelli’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection, on the other hand, is inspired by his rural upbringing. Cashmere, wool, silk, alpaca and mohair in earth-tone colors conjure the tranquility of nature rather than the buzz and brightness of urban metropolises.

Speaking of the Earth as fashion’s “governess”, Stella McCartney, the luxury brand that has never used leather, fur, skins, feathers or animal glues since its foundation in 2001, has always been driven by an environmental duty. The iconic company was one of the first to fuse high fashion with unharmful means of sourcing fabric–followed in suit by tens of luxury brands. While making a statement in the fashion industry has historically been an outward declaration of style, McCartney was ahead of her time in realizing that the ultimate statement is about something greater than fashion itself, one that is a deep-rooted integrity towards people and the planet.

The environmental impact of leathers made from biomaterials can be up to 24 times lower than animal leathers, as with Stella McCartney’s “vegetarian leather”.

Stella McCartney Fall/Winter 2021 Collection. Meya Jacket and Pants, Frayme Shoulder Bag. Courtesy Stella McCartney

“There’s a new social contract,” said Brunello Cucinelli in his speech at the debut of his Fall/Winter 2021 collection. “This time, it will no longer be a contract only human beings will be party to,” as classical philosophy conceives it. “It is a contract that will involve the whole of wildlife and the Earth.”

Brunello Cucinelli Fall/Winter 2021 Collection – Cashmere Knit Jacket, Cashmere Vanisé English Rib Sweater, Cotton Piqué Polo Shirt and Italian-Fit Trousers in Cotton Gabardine.

Whether a pioneer like McCartney or Cucinelli, slowly adopted, or new to the game, each collection illustrates their respective designer’s vision of tomorrow’s luxury world, and in the process, something about fashion’s new understanding: that now, more than ever, fashion does not rule the planet, but the planet rules fashion.

Cashmere Handmade Paisley Opera Sweater, Knit Beanie, Virgin Wool Wide Trousers, Taffeta and Suede Backpack. Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

Isabel Marant uses Ramie fabric, a vegan silk alternative made from the flowers of a ramie plant native to East China.

Isabel Marant Fall/Winter 2021 Collection – Della Long Parka, Aliette Belt and Balskee Sneakers. Courtesy Isabel Marant

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