Paris Fashion Week McCartney spotlights the climate crisis

  • Post last modified:March 5, 2024
  • Reading time:8 mins read

On Monday 4 March, sustainable fashion designer Stella McCartney called on the fashion world to “wake up” to the climate crisis. During the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week McCartney presented her autumn-winter collections, challenging the fashion industry’s polluting status quo.

Paris Fashion Week McCartney

With her father and his Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr watching from the front row, McCartney presented a collection made from 90% “eco-responsible” materials.

The X post image, displaying McCartney’s message, reads:

The world is crying out for change and it is our responsibility to act now. The younger generation are standing up and telling us that our house is on fire and that we need to respond like we are in a crisis, because in fact it is a crisis. At Stella McCartney, we challenge the fashion industry every day to be better, questioning things as they are and driving change. I invite you all to join me in this fight, feeling encouraged and hopeful, fearless – because we can build a better future together.

We aren’t perfect, and we recognise that, like all businesses, we are part of the problem, but we are pushing boundaries every day to find solutions that do exist in an industry desperately in need of change.

Here are just a few of the things we do at Stella McCartney to have a more positive impact and challenge the status quo, rather than following convention. It’s time to wake up… This is the future of fashion not just a trend.

Her eco-conscious collection followed showed off oversized suits and clothes with exaggerated proportions:

McCartney sent one model out with an edgy statement:

Speaking to the Guardian, she said of the slogan:

Well, I mean, we’re in a bit of a state here, aren’t we?

Specifically, McCartney referenced the dual environmental crises and fashions outsized carbon emissions and polluting impact.

Crucially, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. For a sense of scale, this is greater than the combined carbon emissions from international flights and maritime shipping.

To make matters worse, according to statistics from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the fashion industry is extremely water intensive. Specifically, it suggested that the industry uses 93bn cubic metres of water per year. This is equivalent to the water consumption needs of five million people.

Given this, she told the Guardian that:

I always want the platform of Stella McCartney to have an environmental message. I am here to remind people that this is one of the most harmful industries. But I’m not here to make people depressed and scared. I want to celebrate Mother Earth and all of her creatures and to remind us all to be conscious of that, but at the same time, I want it to be an uplifting experience.

Forefront of sustainable fashion

Previously, McCartney has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle the unsustainable practices in fashion. In 2018, she collaborated with the United Nations to create a climate action charter for the industry. Since then, she has presented multiple fashion collections with a concerted sustainability focus.

On top of this, McCartney has previously supported climate activists fighting big polluters. Notably, she loaned suits, shirts, and blazers to the Extinction Rebellion HSBC 9 activists during their trial in November 2023. A jury acquitted the activists, who had broken windows at HSBC HQ to challenge the bank’s billions invested in fossil fuels.

During the Paris Fashion Week, McCartney continued to platform the climate and biodiversity crisis through her collection. In particular, she said she had sought out solutions that could not be told apart from traditional textiles by the naked eye. For instance, in one design, a model donned a white suit made from vegan leather.

By contrast, animal rights activists called out Victoria Beckham’s use of leather during the event. As Stella McCartney’s own website highlights, leather is linked to significant environmental harm, alongside animal rights abuses:

As well as being cruel, leather’s environmental impact is incredibly high. Animal agriculture accounts for around 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and is driving the destruction of our rainforests.

Marine Serre’s marketplace

Meanwhile, another eco-conscious designer held her show in Parisian food hall Ground Control, among café tables, pizza stands, and a florist.

32-year-old French designer Marine Serre uses as much recycled material as possible in her outfits. Serre told AFP she disliked the way big brands build temporary structures just for a 10-minute fashion show. She explained that:

I like to find a place that already has a vibration and energy. Most of the time, when you do a show, it’s just in a box, and I’m kind of against that”

Her models were also more age-inclusive, ranging from older women to a little baby, carried in a white dress-and-baby-carrier combo, screen-printed with Serre’s signature crescent moon.

In a sea of big-name brands with chequered environmental records, McCartney and Serre used their platforms to highlight that fashion shouldn’t have to cost the Earth.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse.

Feature image via Stella McCartney/Youtube screengrab.

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