Stella McCartney was an early adapter of sustainable and cruelty-free fashion. A life-long vegetarian, the designer has been experimenting with sustainable synthetic textiles like vegan leather and hyper-real-looking faux fur for years. Now, she’s making it her mission to change the industry (and hopefully, the world). On Thursday, McCartney announced a proposed United Nations charter (initiated by the UN climate change secretariat) at the Business of Fashion “Voices” conference that will focus on the fashion industry’s responsibility in improving its effects on the environment. In an interview with The Guardian, she said: “We really don’t have long now, to change things. But I honestly believe it’s doable—I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t believe that.”
McCartney hopes that the proposed fashion charter, which will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland on December 10, will “ring some alarm bells” and convince fast-fashion retailers to think critically about reducing their collective carbon footprint. By banding together, these companies would ideally have the power and resources to make sustainable fashion more accessible. “There is so much guilt and fear attached to talking about sustainability and that’s not helpful,” she said. “What is essential is for the big players in the industry to come along with me, because that changes the price point.”
Many brands have greedily opted to mass produce as much clothing as possible in order to maximize profits, which has wreaked havoc on the Earth’s soil and its wildlife inhabitants. But, McCartney thinks a seismic shift is about to happen in the opposite direction, and there’s data to back that up—The Guardian cites a study by Lyst that shows searches for “vegan leather” and “organic cotton” rose 47% in the last year. But you don’t need numbers to tell you that the industry has become increasing splintered, with new niche brands popping up almost daily.
“There is a reason the fashion industry clings to old-fashioned ways of doing things—it is cheaper and it is easier,” McCartney said. “We can only fix this mess if we work together.”