One of the few silver liners of the pandemic has been our heightened awareness of climate change, and fashion has stepped up efforts to address it. Today, it is generally accepted that our industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of climate change; it is also responsible for pollution, waste and even fracking. We were talking about the need for change before the pandemic, but 2020 put those words into action.
The spring 2021 collections, designed in quarantine and now arriving in stores, marked a particular turning point. In our conversations with designers, this was the first time that sustainable practices simply felt like a given, not an exception (or, worse, a marketing stunt). At Patou, Guillaume Henry spoke of his certified organic cotton and recycled fabrics as an afterthought, rather than an aberration from the norm. (Why should chemically treated cotton and plastic fibers always be considered normal?) Balenciagas Demna Gvasalia was just as outspoken: 93.5% of her collection was made from certified sustainable or recycled fabrics, a figure that his team met quite easily. As he said Vogues Sarah Mower: There are solutions if you are looking for them. There’s a need to revise things. To start a new chapter.
Heres hopes the fall 2021 collections will continue the story. As we cover them this month on Vogue Runway, VogueSustainability Editor-in-Chief Tonne Goodman has picked her spring highlights that you can buy now. I’m excited to see some of my favorite established and new designers tackling sustainability in their products, as well as in their business practices, she says. These items are stylish with substance. From jackets made from reclaimed rugs to recycled satin ballet flats, browse all of her choices below, plus some tips on how to wear them.
The foundations of Stella McCartneys’ sustainability
Goodman calls Stella McCartney the Godmother of Sustainability, and for good reason. McCartney has refrained from using fur and leather for 20 years, and over the past decade, she has stepped up her commitments to organic, recycled and bio-based materials. Its combination in organic cotton and traceable viscose knitwear is the image of modern bullion coins. These are staples that will last a lifetime under any circumstance you can think of, says Goodman.
Re-Nylon gets Raf treatment
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ debut collection featured full and elegant skirts, including this one in 100% recycled nylon, the same material found on Pradas backpacks and handbags. It revisits the nylon that has always made me love the brand, says Goodman. The length is elegant and feminine with a typically Prada sporty side.
Jolie in pink Patou
Guillaume Henry’s floral dresses at Patou embrace the optimism that comes with spring, Goodman says. They are also trendy pieces that you can wear every day, combining soft organic cotton with a cheerful print and plenty of volume.
Marine Greenhouses Magic Rugs
A handful of Marine Serres burgundy jackets, skirts and dresses were made from salvaged rugs; each is unique in its kind. Despite their unusual origins, Goodman points out that the jacket in particular is quite wearable: it has a built-in classic heirloom sensibility, she says. This print reminds me of a DIY woodcut. It’s easy to dress up or take down, and it’s completely genderless.
Essential masks Collina Stradas
A year after the start of the pandemic, masks are still mandatory, but Hillary Taymours’ hand-dyed designs at Collina Strada are actually a pleasure to wear. Without a doubt the accessory of the season, it’s a fine example of how utility becomes fashion, says Goodman. Feel free to use the ribbons in any way that suits your personal style, from bows and headbands to classic streamers.
The trainer explores the natural side of leather
For its spring 2021 collection, Coaches Stuart Vevers presented recycled handbags, some made from recycled plastic bottles. He also experiments with vegetable tanning and natural dyes such as turmeric, carrot and cochineal; a new pastel bin capsule displays the full spectrum of earth tones. A tote is a tote is a tote, as with all bag needs resolved, Goodman says. Add a touch of seasonal color and it becomes an even more important accessory for spring.
Rag & Bones modern ballet slippers
With a cute, cinched design and glossy finish, Rag & Bones’ new cozy apartments have been made from 100% recycled satin. Goodman considers them to be the 2021 version of a ballet slipper. I’m a girl who loves apartments, she said. I grew up with ballet slippers as my shoes, and that’s an almost perfect interpretation.
Sarah Burton finds beauty in the warehouse
The entire Sarah Burtons Spring 2021 collection for Alexander McQueen was created using materials from previous collections or excess fabric found in the tag store. Why order new textiles when there are already so many? This balletic tulle dress hardly looks like leftovers, but it’s as rare as any tailoring; it will be produced on a strictly made-to-order basis.
Leather reworked in the Richard Malone way
London designer Richard Malone uses almost exclusively obsolete, recycled and upcycled materials. This trench coat may look like any other shiny piece, but it’s made entirely from recycled leather. How big is a trench? Its black for dramatic elegance in the evening, but perfectly suited for everyday adventures, says Goodman. The perfect investment for any season.
Gucci experiences with circularity
Last summer, Alessandro Michele unveiled an ambitious new project: Gucci Off the Grid, a collection of streetwear and accessories made from organic, recycled and bio-based materials, like this sporty mini-bag in recycled nylon. I love a shoulder bag because you can use it hands-free, says Goodman. This Gucci miniature messenger bag is the perfect size for your phone, mask, hand sanitizer, keys and some loose change. The wonderful, vibrant blue adds just the right amount of pressure to any look.
Vintage Levis is still the ultimate trophy
Anyone who knows Goodman knows that she is never without her signature white jeans. I am a Lévis girl from start to finish, she said. Why would I ever give them up? They are eternally classic, comfortable and companions for life. Now Levis has an entire site dedicated to pre-loved vintage and used jeans; find the perfectly worn white, blue, black or ripped pair! has never been so easy.
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