It was such a pleasure to hear Claire speak.
Claire Bergkamp , head of Sustainability for Stella McCartney, came to speak as part of the International Fashion Festival; on Sustainability and the model used within this illustrious fashion house.
It was a real insight into how a brand like Stella McCartney have improved awareness of ethical fashion choices within their own structure and with stakeholders.
What became evident at this event, was that for Claire and for the brand, these measures were the norm. It was incredibly impressive to see top down transformation of thinking within the fashion industry. Claire’s speech made it clear that change was something Stella McCartney was willing to embrace. Her work at the fashion house has primarily been to direct more focus on the raw materials we use. This included sustainable choices in materials, manufacturing, supply chains and sale of goods highlighted that ethics are at the heart of what they do.
Stella McCartney forged her way in the fashion industry from an early age. Learning her trade on Saville Row and Central St Martins. This was followed by the coveted position of Creative Director at Chloe and finally, the launch of her brand in 2001. McCartney, has shown a determination to keep her brand honest and ethical. This message is clear with a whole team dedicated to studying everything from environmental profit and loss to supply chains and working conditions.
“Stella McCartney’s commitment to sustainability is evident throughout all her collections and is part of the brand’s ethos to being a responsible, honest, and modern company.”
“We want to move past good intentions…”
As a luxury brand, it appears more innovation and alternative thinking is needed on the matter of sustainability. Claire was faced with a lot of questions about recycling the products and what the brand can do to help their customers contribute in this way. The answer being, this is something which is more influential at a high st level. Claire highlighted there are several challenges for luxury products and their ability to recycle and re-use fabric. The value of these products is held both in monetary form and in sentimentality and their customer’s are less likely to simply throw the products away. These older garments find new life online and the prestige of the brand name gives the garment longevity. The other issue to tackle is quality. A fibre can be recycled, however in so many cases, it can be damaged or degraded in the process.
“There is a better way to make clothing…”
Stella McCartney have measured and addressed the impact of waste in a far different way. Rather than looking at the end of the life cycle of a garment. McCartney’s sustainability team are looking at conscious choices when choosing materials. Where is the cotton farmed? What dyes will be used? Claire and her team have really gone beyond what is expected from fashion houses of the scale. They look at water use, worker’s rights and treatment and crop regeneration in the cashmere industry.
“In a way we can be proud of…”
It was an impressive plan and such a breath of fresh air. It’s not hard to stand out compared with companies who are proud of achieving the minimum requirement of accountability. The work Claire is doing seems to be personal. There was a strong sense of heritage, not just accountability. Claire has managed to develop lasting working relationships with Stella’s suppliers to create better garments and promote fair pay for fine products.
“What do we want to leave behind?
Stella McCartney, are part of ‘The Caring Group’ formally known as the Gucci Group. This consists of several high end design houses, all working collaboratively and within their own companies to affect change in the high end market. I think with positive steps and collaboration being made, the fashion industry could be on the way to change. We need to address our waste, our attitude and the way we think about our clothes and support from Stella McCartney will go a long way to improving our perception on conscious clothing.
Care over commodity.