By Megan Frei
Last week, the third annual Green Carpet Awards took place in Milan to celebrate an ever-growing awareness for sustainable, ethical fashion. The green carpet used for the event was created using 2,000 metres of ECONYL nylon, constructed from fishing nets and nylon waste. After the award show, the carpet was repurposed and the flowers used for the event were both donated and planted locally in Milan.
Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age, attended the star-studded gala with her husband by her side. Big names like Anna Wintour, Adut Akech, Letitia Wright, Candace Swanepoel, Alessanda Ambrosio, and Shailene Woodley came out to support slow fashion. Taking the Green Carpet Challenge, the guests in attendance worked with different designers to dress in vintage or recycled garments. Eco-Age describes the Green Carpet Challenge as a way to combat today’s disposable fashion industry, stating, “Fashion designs should not have an expiry date. Over-production and premature garment disposal are key challenges faced by the industry today and they have a significant environmental impact.” In recycling previously-worn gowns, stars walking the Green Carpet helped dispel the myth that a beautiful garment should only be worn once.
Several designers were awarded for their outstanding achievements towards fashion and conservation. Deservingly so, Stella McCartney was honoured with a GFCA Groundbreaker Award for her work in sustainable fashion. Among the many steps Stella has taken to be kinder to the planet, such as her refusal to use leather and committing to using recycled fabrics in her products, McCartney has also partnered with TheRealReal, which promotes a circular fashion life cycle, to help ensure her products will never become waste. Serving as an important reminder of the changes the fashion industry needs to make to reduce its environmental footprint, the Green Carpet Awards night celebrated designers who are committed to making change and inspiring other big brands to do the same.
While most brands in the fashion industry are recognizing the importance of moving towards a cleaner, greener future, very few brands are actually taking the necessary steps to lessen their waste and improve workers’ rights. Designers like Stella McCartney are setting an important precedent for both luxury and high street brands, urging other designers to prioritise repurposed and biodegradable fabric, in addition to zero-waste business practices.
Sustainable practices in fashion, such as using recycled plastic water bottles and repurposing old textiles, are at the forefront of the fashion discussion. As consumers, it’s our job to consume consciously. Although the burden of sustainably producing products should be placed on companies, consumers have to take it on themselves to shop responsibly and forego the tempting high street prices for a less wasteful alternative. Many of us are aware of the horrific effects of fast-fashion’s pollution and waste, and, luckily, slow and ethical fashion is more accessible than ever. Although a student budget probably doesn’t leave room for Stella McCartney, there is a plethora of other chic, sustainable options to suit all tastes.
Sustainable brands worth checking out:
- The OG sustainable fashion brand Reformation now offers free shipping to many countries, including Ireland.
- People Tree, Amour Vert, Birdsong, and Organic Basics offer a nice foray into organic clothing.
- Vejas, Allbirds, Rothys for your sustainable footwear needs.
- Depop is a great way to get trendy second-hand clothing while helping save the planet.
- If you prefer the in-store shopping experience to an online one, gently pre-loved clothes are easy (and fun) to find in Siopaella Designer Exchange in Dublin and No. 8 in Galway.
As the next decade looms, and ecological changes are becoming an ever-present reality, everyone has a part to play in the collective mission towards a healthier planet. Take a page out of the Green Carpet playbook and try thinking about the “why” before you buy. Whether our vice is vintage clothes or high-end brands, we all have the power to be more conscious consumers and to push the future of fashion in a positive direction.