A Stella McCartney dress made out of plastic bottles? Yes, please
Fashion labels saving the world, one plastic bottle at a time
Our planet is in a deep ecological crisis. We’re well on our way to exhausting all our natural resources and, despite ominous warnings from environmentalists, show no sign of stopping.
One of the supervillains in the fight against planet destruction is plastic. The man-made material has wrought havoc on our environment for years. We produce nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, out of which 8 million are dumped into the ocean. According to Plasticoceans.org, 1 in 3 species of marine mammals have been found entangled in plastic litter. The ratio of plastic to plankton in the Mediterranean Sea alone is 1:2.
Creative activism, like sustainable fashion, is not only a damage control practice, but also an effective way to raise awareness about the irreversible destruction we’ve caused. Major fashion labels like Stella McCartney and adidas have taken to partnering with organisations like Parley for the Oceans, that actively seek to eliminate plastic waste from our oceans.
These brands are turning plastic into high fashion
adidas has been a longtime collaborator with Parley for the Oceans. In 2015, adidas introduced the world’s first shoe made entirely out of recycled ocean waste. Designed by British designer Alexander Taylor, the shoe was constructed from yarns made of fish nets and plastic bottles. It was constructed using the brand’s existing footwear manufacturing process without compromising on performance and quality.
This April, they announced a new UltraBOOST collection made out of recycled plastic salvaged by Parley for the Oceans, in a deep blue shade representing the ocean. Even features like lace and heel lining were created from recycled PET materials. Each pair required on an average 11 plastic bottles.
In March, Stella McCartney collaborated with adidas to create a collection that featured a pure white Parley UltraBOOST X, made out of recycled plastic bottles.
Earlier this month, the brand launched a new Parley collection of UltraBOOST running footwear models, but this time in a faded blue shade to represent the coral bleaching crisis threatening the oceans around the world.
As part of the label’s sustainable fashion initiative, 2017’s Conscious Exclusive collection used recycled shoreline waste to create garments and accessories. One of the most talked-about pieces was a pleated dress that looked like it was made from chiffon but, in reality, was a fabric called Bionic, recycled polyester made out of waste from the oceans. The accessories include a fishnet bag and earrings made from recycled glass and plastic.
Aside from creating songs that refuse to get out of your head, Pharrell Williams also moonlights as a reanimated Captain Planet. Before he came on board as a co-owner in February 2016, Pharrell had collaborated with Dutch brand G-Star Raw to create sustainable fashion, including the 2015 line made in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans and Bionic Yarns (a New York-based start-up that specializes in textiles made of coastal and marine plastic waste. It's co-founded by Pharrell, who is also the company’s creative director).
As G-Star Raw’s co-owner, the singer helped launch the brand’s sustainable line, Raw for the Ocean. For their first collection, the label paired up with Bionic Yarns to create denim jeans out of recycled plastic waste from the oceans, which included Barbie heads and lighters.
The British label recently announced that it’s going to launch a sustainable line in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that sources up to 120 tonnes of trash from the oceans each month and turns the waste into filaments.
The oceans are dying. But it’s not too late to save them. We’re joining @Parley.tv in the movement to make peace with our life support system. Together we will fight marine plastic pollution and honour those who defend the sea. Stay tuned this #WorldOceansDay on June 8th. #StellaXParley #StellaCares #ParleyAIR
The repurposed plastic will be used to make shoes, bags and outerwear for the collection that will be launched on World Oceans Day (June 8), but will start retailing from July. Consumers who are used to the label’s understated luxury will just have to get used to this new idea of luxury. “If they don’t notice it and if they feel that living on this planet longer is a luxury, then yes, that’s my idea of luxury,” the designer told the New York Times, “To take something destructive and to turn it into something that’s sexy and cool, how can that not be a luxury?
Stella McCartney is considered a pioneer in sustainable fashion. As of 2016, 53% of the label is sustainable.
For the 2016 MET gala, Emma Watson collaborated with Calvin Klein and Eco Age for her red carpet look that was made from actual trash. Her five piece look was created from three fabrics woven from yarns made out of recycled plastic bottles. Even the fasteners were created using recycled material. “Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet. Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the #MetGala proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together,” the Beauty and the Beast actress wrote in a Facebook post.
A champion of sustainable fashion, Emma Watson created an Instagram account that kept track of all the promotional looks from her Beauty and the Beast press tour. All the designer looks featured on the account came with a back story that highlighted its sustainable origins. One of the most striking looks from the tour was a custom-made Louis Vuitton dress designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere. The fabric of the dress was recycled polyester, made by Newlife Yarns, an Italian organization that creates filaments from waste plastic bottles.