Stella McCartney has had a big week.
The sustainable designer kicked things off with a trip to the G7 Summit in Cornwall, which she attended alongside world leaders and a delegation of 10 other influential CEOs as sole representative of the British fashion industry. Having spent the weekend promoting her eco-fashion agenda to some of the most powerful individuals in the Western world, McCartney rounded off the week with a guerrilla-style flashmob activation in Piccadilly Circus to celebrate 20 years in the business.
At the G7, McCartney rubbed shoulders with the likes of Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and the Prince of Wales, and encouraged them to take a harder legal stance on unethical and planet-damaging practices in the fashion industry. “One of the biggest problems that we have in the fashion industry is we’re not policed in any way. We have no laws or legislations that will put hard stops on our industry…. We need to be incentivised, [and] we need to have taxations looked at to work in a better way,” McCartney said at an event at St James Palace on Thursday before the official summit started on Friday.
“I don’t think anyone really knows that the fashion industry is one of the most harmful industries,” McCartney told Sky News in advance of her Cornish sejour. “I don’t think they know that 150 million trees are cut down for viscose whereas I’ve managed to source a sustainable wood pulp in Sweden.”
The designer, who is the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney and late animal rights activist Linda McCartney, is a lifelong vegetarian who has never used animal skins, fur or feathers in any of her collections since she started her namesake brand in 2001. Instead, she has been dedicated to materials innovation, and was among the first to use econyl (a fabric made from recycled bottles), faux furs and mushroom leather in her products. Something she claims she has been penalised for, rather than championed.
"I’m not incentivised at all,” she continued in the Sky interview. “In fact I can be hit by up to a 30 per cent tax if I export a non-leather good into the United States of America and I have to put that in my margins and that doesn’t help me as a business and I’m penalised for doing good if you like. If I put a slither of pig leather onto that vegan product, my tax is exempt.”
While McCartney no doubt took the likes of Boris and Biden to task over regulation and taxation in the supply chain, she’s also hit her animal-loving message home in a much more light-hearted (although no less impactful) way back in London this week. Anyone who happened to be strolling about Piccadilly Circus on Wednesday lunchtime would likely have encountered a group of 30 people wearing animal heads atop McCartney’s autumn 21 collection.
Designed the promote her autumn 2021 campaign titled ‘Our Time has Come,’ the bonkers-but-brilliant event took place under a tongue-in-cheek documentary narrated by British comedian David Walliams that was shown on the Piccadilly circus screens, and was intended raise awareness for the McCartney’s cruelty-free movement and encourage people to sign Humane Society International’s (HSI) Fur Free Britain petition to end the fur trade in the UK.
And there’s already a strong appetite for McCartney to capitalise on here, with 72 per cent of Brits supporting the proposal and a further 93 per cent against wearing animal fur, with fur farms already illegal in the country.
“While this campaign is light-hearted, I wanted to address a serious issue: ending the use of fur,” said McCartney. “Whether it is being sold here in the United Kingdom or farmed globally, barbarism knows no borders and this effort is key to my life’s mission of bringing a conscience to the fashion industry.”
Around 96 million animals are killed in fur farms annually, crammed into small, barren wire cages for their entire lives – unable to act out their natural behaviours such as running or digging. Many millions more are trapped in the wild for their fur each year; wild-roaming coyotes, wolves and foxes are caught in brutal leg-hold traps, which are banned or heavily restricted in over 100 countries worldwide due to their cruelty.
It’s a practice that simply does not need to exist. And McCartney wont rest until it doesn’t. “I am proud to partner with Humane Society International and to help raise awareness of the incredible work they do,” continued McCartney. “Please join us in ending this horrendous practice by signing their petitions now.” Sign it here.
In addition to the Fur Free Britain campaign, Stella McCartney is asking its global community of changemakers to sign Humane Society International’s Stop Deadly Fur (North America, Europe, Asia) petition calling on all countries to ban fur farming and highlighting the trade’s danger to both human and animal lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stella McCartney’s inspiring leadership on fur-free fashion is second to none,” says Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International. “Millions of animals on fur factory farms endure deprivation and pain for the fur trade, and animals trapped and drowned in the wild suffer terribly too – simply for fashion items no-one needs.”
The autumn 21 collection itself, sported by the ‘animal’ stars of the campaign, is a colourful and uplifting explosion of easy breezy sportswear. The vegan Falabella bag is blown up into an oversized Maxi edition and a new bag style, The Frayme, comes in a timeless half moon silhouette with chunky chain. The entire collection is made with 80 per cent eco-friendly materials, making it the British fashion house’s most sustainable to date.
Buying clothes won’t save the planet, but buying better ones can certainly help. And if you are no longer happy to turn a blind eye to animal cruelty in fur, leather and feather farms, it’s time to join McCartney’s animal-loving army.