Stella McCartney. A sustainable fashion brand

Stella McCartney is a sustainable fashion brand, this is a fact.

What makes Stella McCartney’s sustainable business successful? 

Stella bases her business model and brand DNA on sustainability. Sustainability was her belief.

She grew up with a clearly defined philosophy in her mind: Respect for the environment, people and animals. Let’s see how she earned “public appreciation” in times when sustainability was not a “hot topic”.

Three main factors made her business model sustainable:

  • Certainly her family was a huge influence on her way of directing the company. In the face of adversity, critical attacks from the international press, and lack of profitability, she never gave up. She continued on her path, and this, in my vision, is the first factor of her success. Consistency for a luxury brand is crucial. Luxury consumers have a high spending power and can buy whatever they want. To attract them and earn their loyalty, a brand has to stay consistent with its DNA. Staying on the chosen path and adhering to the brand’s philosophy is of paramount importance to flourish and last through the years.
  • She always uses sustainable materials. This is an unspoken rule for her and to me it is the second winning factor. She never mixed-up sustainable with non-sustainable components and has always been loyal to her credo: no leather, fur or PVC.
  • Acquisition by Gucci (now part of the Kering Group). Entering a group means being part of a bigger system of values, rules and skills. For sure the acquisition let her be sustained by a team of skilled financial/business people who lent the right support for investments that led her to success. She is basically a designer. A company to be successful needs the right compromise between the artistic and business sides.

Stella made her design respectful of the environment and helped local communities thanks to partnerships with NGOs while being profitable.

The perfect example of a sustainable business model that connects to the environment, society and the economy.

How Stella McCartney made fashion more environmentally friendly and sustainable? 

  1. She excluded products made of leather, fur and PVC from her product-mix.
  2. She selected only suppliers of textiles who produce responsibly and in line with her brand’s DNA
  3. She decided not to test her skin care products on animals
  4. She partnered up with NGO’s which help local communities. One of them was “The Ethical Fashion Initiative” whose goal is to connect the fashion business with local artisans in Africa and Haiti. Its mission is to develop local creativity, encourage female employment and empowerment, and promote gender equality. All with the direct goal of reducing extreme poverty and increasing export capacities of the regions in which it operates.

Despite the clear sustainable brand mission, this dimension had never been a fundamental aspect of the brand’s advertising and communication campaigns. Is this a benchmark for brands popping up on the market right now?

I believe that this aspect truly depends on the brand’s positioning and the time in which it is launched.

When Stella McCartney launched her brand, sustainability was pretty much a “taboo”. It is probable that, if she addressed her brand message in this direction at that time, she would have not been understood or labelled as being “radical chic”.

I agree on her marketing campaign, because she elegantly informed people about what was happening. She started teaching people about this problem.

Thanks also to her family name, she has been recognised as an activist who does not “market” her “credo” but “uses” fashion to shine a light on the problem.

In this particular time I strongly suggest brands to emphasise the core message because consumers are ready to “value” this concept.

Today Stella McCartney brand is part of LVMH Group. Ms Stella McCartney holds a specific position and role on sustainability as special advisor to Mr. Arnault and the executive committee members.

LVMH was the first large company in France to create a sustainability department more than 25 years ago. Stella is today a strategic partner to further increase awareness on these important topics.

Sustainability matters.

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