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Stella McCartney Making Green the New Black

If one has to name the green icon in fashion nowadays, Stella McCartney beats everyone else hands down. There aren't that many to choose from, anyway. The nature of fashion is to create something new, to invent. Invention implies dishing the old. But the fashion industry is not like other products where seasonal changes happen every 3-6 months—quoting Heidi Klum, in fashion "one day you're in, the next day you're out." Everyday fashion reinvents itself and denounces its past.  To picture the vast amount of waste created by such nature can be mind-boggling. Just imagine the amount of clothes, bags and shoes abandoned in one single change of season in our single Landmark — knowing that we generate so much waste that 12% of Hong Kong's annual greenhouse gas emission comes from landfills and owing to an impending overflow, some of our country parks needs to serve temporarily as trash-heaps.

If one has to name the green icon in fashion nowadays, Stella McCartney beats everyone else hands down. There aren't that many to choose from, anyway. The nature of fashion is to create something new, to invent. Invention implies dishing the old. But the fashion industry is not like other products where seasonal changes happen every 3-6 months—quoting Heidi Klum, in fashion "one day you're in, the next day you're out." Everyday fashion reinvents itself and denounces its past.  To picture the vast amount of waste created by such nature can be mind-boggling. Just imagine the amount of clothes, bags and shoes abandoned in one single change of season in our single Landmark — knowing that we generate so much waste that 12% of Hong Kong's annual greenhouse gas emission comes from landfills and owing to an impending overflow, some of our country parks needs to serve temporarily as trash-heaps.

As the issue of climate change gains an increasingly high profile in the media, the fashion industry has been quick to respond with a wave of trendy green items, met with criticisms of green washing. The "I'm not a plastic bag" turned out to be a green disaster. Organic cotton collections in various brands like H & M appear to be little more than a gimmick.

But the masters know better. Mr. Armani, for one, has a unique view of fashion's role in environmental protection. Within the many brands of the Armani empire, we can find Armani Jeans which uses eco-friendly materials, but also the fur-intensive collections in GA and EA. When asked his take on the responsibility of fashion in protecting the environment, Mr Armani replies that while the industry can definitely work in a ways that are more environmentally friendly, "The best way to make a contribution in fashion is to promote the idea that a fundamental interest in preserving the environment is itself fashionable". He may not be right, but at least his view hits home with most fashionista. Facing the million choices offered each season, if only the fashion-conscious spare one thought to consider what items he/she already has, or spend the time to donate/sell out of season items to second hand stores, that alone will make a big difference. In face of such fashion consumers, the success of Stella McCartney is that she lives green as an icon, showing the world that real green is chic, green is the new black.

Growing up in an organic farm, Stella is a vegetarian and a believer of organic living. Early in her Chloe era, she refused to use fur and leather and insisted on using wool only. She used vegetable fibre in place of PVC, allegedly saving a big chunk of cost and increased profits for Chloe. With her own brand, Stella carried out her environmental belief more thoroughly, powering her brand's headquarters with wind power from Ecotricity and offsetting the massive amount of carbon footprint of the production process with Carboneutral. Carrier bags from Stella McCartney are 100% biodegradable. And every season her collection features something inspired by nature. Most importantly, her green lifestyle has never hindered her as a respected style icon and professional. Her friends are still the hottest celebs in the world and her hanging out places are still the hippest places of London. She's given the world herself as an example how fashion can be greened and how green living can become fashionable. Her existence speaks against the concept that fashion and environmental protection are intrinsically contradictory.

One may say that Stella is not eco-friendly by making high-heels with wood, but compared to using plastic, she has already taken a major step in the fashion industry. The rest, we'll wait and see.

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