• Nadia Lincoln

Can celebrities really make a difference by promoting sustainable fashion?

Updated: Oct 16

Celebrities are known to spearhead fashion trends and influence consumerism on all levels, but does this trickle down to sustainability, or is it more superficial?

At the Met Gala, Billie Eilish wore designer brand Oscar de la Renta. She wowed the crowd in a blush-coloured, tulle gown – but this was on the condition the luxury brand stopped selling fur.

Billie, a vegan and animal rights activist, said: "I'm honoured to have been a catalyst and been heard on this matter. I urge all designers to do the same."

The brand's CEO, Alex Bolen, said they had not stopped selling fur before as it made up meaningful amounts of sales and profit for the company. Oscar de la Renta has joined a growing list of luxury brands that have made this change, including Gucci, Prada and Versace.

Emma Watson is also an advocate of sustainable fashion. She has been wearing 'eco-friendly' dresses to red carpets for years.

In 2017, she wore a custom Louis Vuitton dress made out of used plastic bottles to the Beauty and the Beast premiere. The asymmetrical cobalt-blue dress 'saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions compared to creating brand new polyester fibre', according to Watson's Instagram, @the_press_tour.

So, celebrities can use their fame to pressure designer brands to be more sustainable, but how effective is this at promoting sustainable fashion on a larger scale?

The average person cannot afford to buy from these luxury brands. Whilst creating custom sustainable dresses and stopping fur sales may seem like a step forward, it's simply an empty gesture.

According to McKinsey (2020), fashion accounts for 20 to 35 per cent of microplastic flows into the ocean. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined (House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, 2019).

Celebrities perpetuate fashion trends with little regard to their effect on fast fashion. This ever-changing rhetoric of what's 'in' or 'out' can only be upheld through unethical shopping.

Though they may influence the designer world, sustainable fashion is a more complex issue that celebrities, retailers, and consumers need to tackle together.

Edited by Miette Dsouza

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