For low impact fashion practices – ethically sourced, sustainable fabrics and de-centralized manufacturing – to eventually become the norm, environmentally conscious fashion labels need to compete with the mainstream.
For a long time, marketing sustainable fashion was overturning stereotypes, but now, with the recent Green Shows at New York’s fashion week showing the movement is undeniably design-led, where do other standard industry practices such as endorsement deals and celebrity fashion brands fit in? Does the sustainable fashion industry need celebrity clothing lines that can often be synonymous with disposable fashion?
Closely tied to a star’s popularity – which like their marriages can be notably volatile and short-lived – some clothing lines have managed to do well, particularly those at lower price points with a mass market appeal and distribution in the likes of Kohl’s, Target and Macy’s.
If sustainable design represents a shift to a new luxury paradigm where consumers value true and lasting quality, can celebrity collaborations authentically raise the awareness of green brands? Of course, the real question is will it sell more clothes? When done right, it can work successfully. It’s all about matching the right celebrity with the right business model. (I couldn’t tell whether Lady Gaga in her meat bikini was the ultimate poster child for, or against, PETA…?) With that in mind, let’s consider the celebrities who have recently joined the eco-fashion crusade.
People Tree at “A Garden Party To make A Difference”
Harry Potter actress Emma Watson recently previewed her spring/summer 2011 collection in her ongoing collaboration with British fair-trade fashion label, People Tree, at Prince Charles’s 12-day U.K. eco festival titled “A Garden Party to Make a Difference – a series of cultural events to promote sustainable living.” The line features knitwear for women and men, consisting of cotton T-shirts, jersey dresses, poplin skirts and shorts. Eighty percent of Watson’s new line is made of 100 percent fair trade-certified cotton.
Rock legend Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders is a longtime animal-rights activist, and her eco-friendly line called “Fairground Luck,” is a labor of love in more ways than one. In a collaboration with sometime love and songwriter JP Jones, the rock-inspired line will include non-leather versions of rocker chic T-shirts, skinny jeans, jackets, handbags and cowboy boots. Hynde nominated her friend, musician Emmylou Harris as the line’s muse and consulted with other famous friends including designers Todd Oldham, John Bartlett and Stella McCartney, whose own designs are vegan as well.
At a time when competition for fashion dollars has never been fiercer, celebrity eco clothing lines can cut through and create a little extra vital buzz. And let’s face it, as far as celebrities go, it could be a lot worse.