A Homage to Stella McCartney: The Ultimate Ethical Designer
In 1971, when Stella McCartney was born to pop-superstar Paul McCartney of the Beatles and infamous animal rights activist Linda, her life was almost predetermined to be a life less ordinary. Indeed, Stella – Latin for “star” – has blazed across the fashion skies, a veritable beacon for ethical fashion.
Despite her famous parents, Stella’s childhood was spent on an organic farm, and she attended her local school. At just 15, she was an intern at Christian Lacroix, racking up high-profile placements at Vogue during her college years, and gaining a role at Chloé post-graduation. Her early collections there were well-received, but her first own brand collection in 2001 spectacularly panned. Her 2002 collection, a bold array of colours and plunging necklines, truly kicked off her career as a designer.
Since then, Stella has worked hard to build her brand from the ground up. The “Stella McCartney” label doesn’t just denote a designer with their standard, signature designs—it denotes a lifestyle choice, and it embraces everything that is “being a woman”. For Stella, fashion isn’t just clothing, or bags, or shoes— “it’s psychology … a whole holistic sense of self”. She recognises all the various aspects of a woman’s personality, and as such, she calls herself “a woman designing for women”. Stella strongly understands that clothing can affect how women feel, and her clothes aim to make women feel good.
As a result of this holistic aesthetic, Stella McCartney’s designs can’t be pigeon-holed. From a decade of creating funky, fashionable sportswear with Adidas, she designed the TeamGB Olympic outfits. From her tailoring training with Edward Sexton on Savile Row, her women’s suits have a strong, structured, masculine element. There’s also an undeniable ultra-feminine appeal in lace dresses, sheer fabrics, polka dots, and low necklines. From her farm life with her family, she brings a boho, country vibe in flower dresses and her signature horse print designs. And then there’s the urban edge of her city life present in chunky chain, no-fuss bags. McCartney’s brand embodies the complexities of being a woman.
On top of all that, Stella is strongly principled, designing clothes that are current and stylish, yet also using sustainably-sourced, high-quality fabrics. Each Stella McCartney item will last for generations and generations, rather than creating more waste for the environment. If that wasn’t enough, her strong vegetarian principles mean that her materials are sourced responsibly—with not a drop of leather or fur in sight—despite the industry she thrives in revolving around these fabrics. Stella believes that no animals should die for the fashion industry, and she encourages other designers and brands to take this stance too.
Stella is almost single-handedly changing the face of “eco-clothing” with luxury designs in denim, jersey, and other eco-fabrics. The ultimate ethical designer, even her stores are made from sustainable resources and are fuelled with renewable energy. With annual profits of £3.5m+, three British Fashion Awards, and an OBE, Stella McCartney is proving that it’s possible to build a hugely successful business and take care of the planet.