The Science of Stella McCartney

Envisioning the Hybridity of Style and Responsibility

  • Photography: Brent Goldsmith
  • Styling: Juliana Schiavinatto

In the early years of Stella McCartney’s design career, being environmentally friendly wasn’t a priority in the luxury fashion industry. The attitude towards sustainability ranged from quaint to gimmicky, a concept in total opposition to the idea of luxury, which historically had defined itself through fur, leather, diamonds, and rarity. For the most part, there was nothing ethical about luxury.

As an idealistic Central Saint Martins graduate in the mid 1990s, Stella McCartney set out to change this standard, and in the two decades since, she hasn't faltered. Refusing to passively participate in rapid deforestation by disregarding the 150 million trees cut down each year for fabric production, her garments source pulp from healthy, FSC-certified forests in Sweden. A single cashmere sweater, which usually takes the fur of four Mongolian mountain goats to produce (with 100x the impact of wool), is rendered in patented Re.Verso, recycled Italian cashmere. Her sneakers and accessories are assembled using a method that is solvent-free, without the use of environmentally detrimental glues, using low-impact rubber. Eco-Alter Nappa, a leather-like product made 50% of vegetable oil (a renewable resource), lines all of her footwear. Each component of a Stella McCartney design is developed with the highest degree of consideration for its impact.

Stella McCartney pioneered a sustainable approach to designing for the luxury fashion market, and almost 20 years since the launch of her brand, it’s catching on. In January, The Business of Fashion predicted that sustainability would be at the center of fashion innovation in 2018. Millennials are more invested in sustainability than any generation preceding, as transparency and accountability become aspects of a brand that increasingly determine its appeal.

Here photographer Brent Goldsmith and stylist Juliana Schiavinatto explore the possibility for a hybridity between style and responsibility in an editorial shot at Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “La Station” in Montreal. A modernist-influenced wonder designed by the German-American architect in 1969, the former filling station has since been converted into a youth and community centre, operating through the use of geothermal technology.

  • Photography: Brent Goldsmith
  • Styling: Juliana Schiavinatto
  • Video: Tristan C-M
  • Photography Assistant: Will Jivcoff, Ryan Lebel
  • Styling Assistant: Kiara Sayer
  • Hair and Makeup: Andrew Ly / Teamm Management
  • Model: Nova Orchid / Dulcedo
  • Production: Alexandra Zbikowski
  • Production Assistant: Erika Robichaud-Martel
  • Music: “The Loner” by Tony Price