By now we are all aware that the rate at which we are consuming fashion, and the processes and production methods used to manufacture our extensive wardrobes, are all contributing significantly to the destruction of our environment as we know it. By nature of its exclusivity, the luxury market is more out of reach for many consumers and therefore may not be responsible for as high a ratio of the damage to our environment as fast fashion. However, luxury brands often do set the tone for what consumers at all levels may perceive as being as fashionable. In fact, the entire fast fashion industry was built around the concept of bringing runway looks and the sensibilities of high-end brands to the masses in a much shorter time frame than the "trickle-down" effect historically seen in fashion prior to the 1990's. It is not such a crazy leap to think that that even in the arena of being environmentally responsible, these high-end brands can help set the pace as they do for other trends in the fashion industry by making sustainability a key component of their brand. They can be leaders at the forefront of change that is needed, not only on the runway, but in the world overall.
Let's take a look at the current leaders in high-end women's fashion who are making sustainable fashion a priority and a hallmark of their brand...
1. Viktor & Rolf
Viktor & Rolf is a couture brand, which started in 1993. The past two seasons these Dutch designers have decided to break the confines of traditional fashion and step outside the boundaries of the Paris couturiers by making high-end fashion sustainable. Their Spring/ Summer 2017 collection debut in Paris was filled with "Upcycled" creations. They chose to source used textiles and vintage dresses and combined them with gold lame and tulle to create the texture-filled looks, which they are known for. Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Zendaya, Madonna and many more celebrities have been spotted wearing these eco-conscious designers.
Edun was founded by Bono and Ali Hewson in 2005 with the goal to build sustainable growth opportunities in Africa. Over 90% of the line is sourced and produced in Africa, which has been increasing their apparel production overall in the past several years. Edun addresses the potential to establish a healthy and sustainable production culture there from the onset, to avoid repeating the environmentally damaging and socially exploitative industry that has developed in other parts of the world. Unlike the crunchy/earthy aesthetic, a stigma that tends to undermine the sustainable market, Edun's styles are both feminine, edgy, and fashion-forward; they are every bit a luxury brand.
Celebrities such as Miranda Kerr, Selena Gomez, Alexa Chung, and Blake Lively have been spotted in their eco-friendly socially responsible designs.
This high-end handbag company aims to respect nature while creating modern designs. Nosouj is the Arabic word for "hand weaving", and this company has been built on that concept since 2015. When owner Basma Abdul Hadi started Nosouj she searched Jordan, eastern Turkey, and beyond for the best craftsman in villages which needed economic stimulation through employment. This mission enhances and enriches not only her simple and sophisticated designs, but also the villages in which they are created. The background and culture embossed in each of these handcrafted bags differentiates Nosouj from other high-end bag designers on the market. A purchase from Nosouj comes is accompanied by an honorable legacy. Nosouj has recently been awarded the prestigious Butterfly Mark, which is the highest seal of approval for sustainable luxury brands.
4. Monique Pean
Recently listed on O, The Oprah Magazine's list of top 10 women on the rise, Monique Pean has already gained the attention of top celebrities for her jewelry created by unique, eco-friendly materials. Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and even Michele Obama have been spotted wearing pieces of Monique Pean's elegant jewelry. Made up of eco-conscious materials such as wooly mammoth fossils, caribou and walrus ivory combined with recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds, Pean chose to innovate and recycle rather than sacrifice the environment to create her high-end pieces. Since the company's founding in 2006, Monique Pean has been able to raise awareness about art, culture, and global environmental issues using her designs. Proceeds from each purchase go towards
philanthropic organizations; when this high-end jewelry is purchased money is going towards providing clean drinking water and basic sanitation to communities in need.
5. Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney is often credited as one of the first high-end designers to take accountability for the environmental impact of their work. From early on McCartney has operated her company in an eco-conscious manner, not only in terms of sourcing and production, but even the brand's offices, stores and studios in the UK are using renewable energy such as wind generated electricity, and are strident in their recycling practices. With a focus on sustainability, McCartney designs are not intended to end up in a landfill, or damage the environment during production. This is a company that is constantly researching new and innovative ways to create fashions that do not come with negative environmental backlash. With facilities that run on 100% renewable, green energy and using materials such as organic cotton, degradable bio-plastic, and even castor oil seeds. For the entirety of the company's 16 years McCartney has refused to incorporate any fur or leather into her designs. The London based designer makes it evident to the high-end fashion industry that it is possible to design luxury goods in an ethical way.
What other high-end women's fashion brands do you think should be on our list?
Other Sources: Elle | The Richest |Harpers Bazaar |W Magazine |Ragchop |Vogue | AnotherMag | Fashion Spot| Alexander McQueen | Valentino
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