After a year of pandemic living, a lot has changed, especially when it comes to how we shop. With retailers shuttered, we’ve discovered new, eco-friendly ways to consume fashion through video games and fashion rental services, which provide the thrill of the spree without the guilt or the waste.
Confronting our belongings 24/7 has been illuminating – will we ever want to shop like we did before? Yet there is still an undeniable emotional connection between humans and the brands that we hunger for. Our relationship with clothing isn’t based purely on need; we love to associate ourselves with brands based on what they represent, and we lust after items because of how we think they’ll make us feel, not just how we’ll look while wearing them.
Savvy brands recognise this, tapping into consumers’ appetites for name brands and must-have gear but adapting products to appeal to a new generation of eco-conscious consumers, as well as to their devoted clientele who are looking for longevity and consciousness in their purchases.
Take the Lacoste polo, a wardrobe staple. The item first made its debut in 1933, and is instantly identifable thanks to the embroidered crocodile on the chest (“Crocodile” was the nickname for its founder, French tennis player René Lacoste). In the ensuing decades, the polo has become a symbol of laidback style, a byword for quality and comfort. As of 2021, the Lacoste Loop Polo is sustainable too.
The latest version, created in partnership with ethical luxury brand Maison de Mode, is crafted from 30% upcycled cotton (from surplus fabrics), spun with 70% virgin cotton so as not to compromise the quality of the garment. Each shirt is unique as a result of colour variations from the reused materials. Lacoste is looking to cement its commitment to long-term sustainability, having joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative in December 2020. Expect more eco initiatives, which Lacoste terms “durable elegance”, in the near future.
Adidas is another cult label making eco strides by revamping classic items. It’s just unveiled its newest eco trainers in March 2021, three new styles that update the Stan Smith trainer and are known as Stan Smith, Forever. The Stan Smith sneaker has been a cult favourite since its debut in 1973, and these latest iterations are the most sustainable yet, boasting recycled PRIMEGREEN uppers and recycled rubber outsoles, with planet Earth inspired embroidery and graphics, available for men and women. The trainers are part of a larger Adidas initiative known as the End Plastic Waste movement. Adidas has pledged its commitment to reduce the use of virgin plastics, use only recycled polyester by 2024 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
While some brands are turning their most recognisable products into sustainable investments, others are using the latest innovations in sustainable tech to start producing something entirely new. If Stella McCartney and leather sounds like an oxymoron, that’s because it is. Stella McCartney was famously the first vegetarian luxury fashion house; in its 20+ year history, the brand has never used leather, furs or skins. In March 2021, it announced two new products, the result of a lab-grown vegan leather collection, made from Mylo™ mushroom leather. Mylo™ was created by pioneers at Bolt Threads and is a sustainable leather alternative made from mycelium.
Mycelium is becoming a favourite fashion material, with the durability and strength of animal skin, plus it just happens to be infinitely renewable (mushrooms are also being used for a variety of other sustainable purposes, from fuel to building materials). Stella McCartney has used the fabric to create a new bustier and leather trouser, and other brands are following suit. Adidas has also partnered with Bolt Threads; look out for vegan Mylo™ shoe in the near future.
Meanwhile, Hermès is working with California-based MycoWorks on making bags from Sylvania, a new biotech fabric that’s also made with mycelium. Look out for Sylvania in Hermès accessories such as the Victoria travel bag. A new iteration of the bag features the innovative fabric, which is tanned and finished at the luxury brand’s French ateliers alongside its coveted traditional leather accessories, before being paired with calfskin and canvas for the finished version, which will be on sale towards the end of 2021.
If you’ve been lusting after an iconic bag like a Birkin or a Kelly, who knows: your luxury longings may just one day line up with your eco requirements.