Stella McCartney’s new denim technology for Autumn 2020 could help make sustainable fashion mainstream

Stella McCartney is no stranger to going against the grain when it comes to sustainable fashion. The concept was on her radar long before the likes of every fashion magazine was discussing the topic. Whether launching the world’s first faux-fur made using plant-based ingredients or releasing capsules of sustainable performance apparel with sportswear giant Adidas, this designer has certainly had her head in the sustainability game for a while.

But her latest launch of new denim technology described as the world’s first biodegradable stretch denim as part of her Autumn 2020 collection could be a key step in making sustainable fashion mainstream. 

Significant progress towards sustainability has been made since fashion was revealed as being the second most polluting industry in the world after oil. For example, in summer 2019, 32 companies, ranging from high street stores to luxury fashion brands, signed the fashion pact, pledging to fight greenhouse gasses and prioritise sustainability within the industry.

While both luxury and fast fashion are guilty of unsustainable practices, the latter presents a particularly large problem due to the extremely short life-span of its clothes and its practice of relentlessly churning out new collections. 

Luxury fashion recently showed a surge in commitment to eco practises, partly fuelled by a greater consumer desire to shop eco-consciously. According to Selfridges, more than 60 per cent of its customers expressed a desire to shop sustainably. However, with fast fashion on the rise, experts argue that more needs to be done in all areas of the industry to make practises eco-friendly. 

Mccartney’s new denim technology, produced in collaboration with Italian manufacturer Candiani, could signify a change in the sustainable fashion industry. The technology is produced in a safe, toxic-free environment, using organic cotton wrapped around a natural rubber core and is fully biodegradable without compromising on elasticity. 

Photo courtesy of Aurora Rose / WWD / REX

Creative director of New York based Trend Union, Philip Fimmano, expressed high hopes for the technology and praised the denim industry at large for questioning itself and trying to innovate. 

“I think that this new technology is really a game changer as fair as realigning what the industry can do as a whole,” he said.  

The New York creative rejected the notion that eco-conscious fashion should be a focus of only the luxury fashion industry. 

“The idea that sustainable fashion is something just for the high end market is just not true.”

“Perhaps other companies could produce this denim on a larger scale, maybe not exactly the same but we could see the rise of different options for achieving similar results applied to a much larger production process,” he added. 

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Denim expert and author Prof. Dr. Roshan Paul agreed, expressing a belief that this new step taken by Stella McCartney and Candiani could bring sustainable fashion into the mainstream.

“Initially the cost would definitely be high, as like any other new technology. But as soon as the production processes are stabilised, it would be affordable and could be used by high street retailers.” 

Mr Fimmano suggested that the new technology could be applied to other fibres over time and pointed to wool as a potential material that new sustainable processes could be developed for.

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