6 international fashion labels that are redefining luxury by taking a sustainable approach
Wasteful luxury out, responsible luxury in
As we stand face-to-face with pressing environmental crises and a global pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill, every industry is being forced to re-evaluate its choices. Conversations around sustainability are now stronger than ever as the global fashion fraternity stands up to work in tandem with nature and limited resources. Until recently, sustainability in the international fashion industry was limited to a handful of brands which adopted progressive measures for an eco-positive growth. But a heroic change might be in the offing. The Spring-Summer ’20 collections and shows in Paris and Milan saw iconic luxury fashion houses like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Givenchy, and Alexander McQueen balance ethics with aesthetics, and set a precedent for the luxury industry to follow.
Prada: Besides taking responsibility for its fabric use and the resultant waste in production, Prada took a dive into the ocean to turn the colossal plastic waste dumped in it into wearable luxury. The fashion house has re-introduced its iconic nylon backpack with the Prada Re-Nylon collection and gave it a sustainable makeover. Previously made using parachute fabric, the bags are now designed with ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon that is made by recycling fishing nets, ocean plastic and textile waste. In collaboration with the textile yarn producer Aquafil for the production of ECONYL®, the century-old fashion house is set to replace all its nylon with this recycled fabric by 2021.
Givenchy: The brand’s former creative head Claire Waight Keller brought denim back to the runway, but with a sustainable twist. Considering denim’s high water requirement during production, the designer upcycled it into the ‘90s’ reminiscent skirts, coats, and frayed culottes in her Spring-Summer ’20 collection. In true essence of the erstwhile Parisian splendour that inspired the line, the denim was sourced from Paris. “Even as a luxury fashion house we can take steps to be more sustainable and actually, you can still wear something from the ‘90s’; you just have to reinterpret it,” says Keller in a statement.
Louis Vuitton: For any design house, addressing its fabric waste is crucial to attain a circular system. Louis Vuitton’s ‘Be Mindful’ capsule collection made of 17 pieces from second-choice materials is aimed at achieving the same. The result is fringed scarves, LV monogram shawls, and bracelets wrapped in old Jeu de Louis silk squares. The brand also extended its eco-conscious efforts beyond its designs. At the Spring-Summer ’20 show at Paris Fashion Week, the wood used for the set was sourced from sustainably managed forests in France and later donated for reuse.
Gucci: Keeping with its ethos of social commentary, Gucci has set yet another benchmark for brands to follow. The house declared itself entirely carbon neutral in September 2019 and launched a digital portal, Gucci Equilibrium that allows complete traceability of the brand’s actions towards circular creativity. “A new era of corporate accountability is upon us and we need to be diligent in taking all steps to mitigate our impacts, including being transparent and responsible for our GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across our supply chains,” said Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci in a statement.
Dior: Carrying the legacy of a 70-year-old venerated fashion house while voicing contemporary activist concerns is a tightrope walk. And it’s one that Maria Grazia Chiuri has been walking for Dior since 2016 when she joined the house. Her Spring-Summer ’20 show drew inspiration from photographs of Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine standing amidst an abundance of flora. The set for the show was a recreation of the garden using 164 trees that were planted in a secret woodland setting and later transplanted to other wooded areas in different parts of France. It was also Chiuri’s message to preserve the harmonious coexistence between fashion and nature as she urged action for the ecological crisis with labels of #PlantingForTheFuture on the trees along with its origin and destination.
Alexander McQueen: Creative director Sarah Burton has put the brand squarely under the sustainability conversation by embracing ancient craft forms. Her Spring-Summer ’20 collection saw the resurrection of beetled linen. It is an endangered technique of treating and hammering the fabric using wooden blocks to achieve an iridescent sheen. The first look, an ivory puff-sleeved dress, was inspired by Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2000 RTW collection, Eshu. It was interpreted using a time-consuming technique wherein the beetled linen is left to be naturally bleached by the sun and the moon. The collection also featured dresses and jackets in up-cycled tulle, silk and lace from its previous collections.