Celebrities That Support Ethical Fashion
Fashion has a huge impact on the world not just culturally, but also environmentally and sociologically. For a long time the ethics of conventional fashion have been questionable at best, but now things are starting to shift towards more sustainable, ethical fashion.
As awareness of issues like sweatshops and environmental damage come into the public eye, everyone from designers and CEOs to everyday shoppers is rethinking what fashion is and what it does – not just for them but also to the world. But while ethical fashion offers more environmental and sociological sustainability, it has a long way to go before it is financially sustainable.
In many cases, the responsible processes used in ethical fashion lead to higher overheads, which often get passed on to consumers in the form of bigger price tags. Similarly, the smaller profits ethical fashion companies typically make mean that it is impossible to pour loads of money into advertising that would develop more awareness of ethical brands.
Enter celebrities: these people that are household names for everything from movies to business and beyond have a huge influence over us. We know their names, their relationship status and what they do for work. So seeing celebrities support ethical fashion creates more awareness around the problems of conventional fashion and the ways ethical fashion addresses them.
According to online fashion editor and digital content creator Esther Freeman, celebrities have the potential to be “extremely powerful for ethical fashion”.
“…If people could see their favourite celebrity’s styles reproduced in an ethical way, it would be hard proof that ethical fashion can indeed be beautiful,” she explains in an article on the Ethical Fashion Forum website.
That proof is becoming more and more as celebrities learn about the fashion world and choose to support more conscious brands. So here we take a look at 11 celebrities actively supporting the ethical fashion movement.
Ah Bono: the rockstar with a conscience – and a voice to awaken the consciences of others. In 2005, he and wife Ali Hewson founded Edun, an “upscale organic fair-trade sportswear line”. The couple’s vision was to “promote trade in Africa by sourcing production throughout the continent” without the use of sweatshops.
While the brand has had its ups and downs over the past 10 years – moving to be under the banner of uber-fashion label LVMH in 2009 and facing serious losses in 2014 – both Bono and Hewson stand strong in their commitment to ethical fashion.
In an interview with Style.com, Hewson says the one thing that has never changed is their “commitment to bring business to Africa and manufacture on the continent.”
“The inspiration that led us here happened in 1985 when Bono and I traveled to Africa for the first time,” she says.
“We lived and worked for several months in Ethiopia and fell in love with the people and their spirit. The drive to start a company and build a business there was a direct reflection of that original experience.”
2. Victoria Beckham
The former Spice Girl and current fashion designer has shown her support for ethical fashion in an exclusive range for online store Net-A-Porter’s Green Carpet Capsule Collection. Eco-Age – the company behind the Green Carpet Challenge (GCC) movement – says Beckham’s support means that “sustainable style is now truly in the mainstream”.
According to the website, one of the dresses available was even made from Australian wool “spun, twisted and woven into a contrast bodice with washed satin detailing in Italy.”
For her part, Posh Spice says the process of designing ethical fashion for the Green Carpet Challenge has been a rewarding experience.
“The search for ethically sourced fabrics is something myself and my team have been actively looking at developing and so seeing the options and possibilities through [founder] Livia [Firth] and the GCC has been inspiring,” she says.
3. Sir Richard Branson
The man behind the Virgin brand is also backing eco fashion in the air. In 2014, Branson and UK designer Vivienne Westwood launched the new range of Virgin Atlantic uniforms, made with recycled plastics.
Branson’s company says that the collaboration was a long-term partnership “with original design and sustainability being vitally important to both Vivienne and Richard Branson.”
“All 22 uniform pieces have been designed with the environment in mind, with many items produced using recycled materials – in particular a recycled polyester yarn made from used plastic bottles,” Virgin Atlantic says in a blog post about the uniforms.
“The suit fabrics also have a nano finish which extends their life and enables the clothes to retain their colour and finish for longer. All items were also developed with Closed Loop Recycling – a new technology which takes worn polyester clothing and turns it back into fibres that can be woven again into new fabrics.”
4. Pope Francis
Pope Francis is known for doing the unexpected and supporting causes not traditionally linked to the Catholic Church. For him, it seems acceptance is key. So his message when it comes to ethics and fashion (or manufacturing) is insightful and inspiring, regardless of religious beliefs.
In a speech for the World Day of Peace (1st January 2015), the Pope urges shoppers to steer clear of “modern day slavery”.
“Let us ask ourselves, as individuals and as communities, whether we feel challenged when, in our daily lives…we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others,” he says.
“…I urgently appeal to all men and women of good will, and all those near or far, including the highest levels of civil institutions, who witness the scourge of contemporary slavery, not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity.
5. Anne Hathaway
The Academy Award-winning actress has become known for choosing vegan shoes for events and photoshoots. In fact, she caught the attention of sustainable fashion website Ecouterre when she was on the Oscars red carpet in 2013.
“Reigning Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway paired her inordinately…um…“perky” Prada dress with custom cruelty-free pumps from Giuseppe Zanotti,” the website reports.
“Requesting faux-leather kicks from leading footwear designers is becoming an M.O. for the newly vegan actress. Hathaway made her rounds at earlier awards in “veganized” Tom Ford gladiator boots and Jimmy Choo peep-toe heels.”
UK newspaper The Guardian has also noted that she has specifically requested shoes by ethical and vegan shoe company Beyond Skin for various photo and magazine shoots. While it is primarily shoes that Hathaway focuses on for ethical fashion, she is clearly among the celebs taking a step (ahem) in the right direction.
6. Helen Hunt
The legendary actress made even bigger headlines than Hathaway when it came to the Oscars red carpet in 2013. For starters, she chose a dress from high street brand H&M – something almost unheard of at the film event of the year.
But more importantly, Hunt chose a dress from H&Ms Conscious Collection, the company’s ethical arm. As Hunt said on the night:
“[H&M] is making sustainable clothes, which I love, so it’s a win-win-win.”
While the dress was made under the ethical guidelines of the Conscious Collection, H&M did confirm that it was a one-off dress for Hunt and would not be sold publicly. Still, this move by Hunt shows that stars can support ethical fashion and encourage high street brands to develop more “conscious collections” for us all.
7. Vanessa Paradis
The model, singer, actress used to be known as Johnny Depp’s partner, but has recently come into her own as an ethical fashion figurehead. Paradis is the face of H&M’s Conscious Collection.
The range is made from materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and the eco-friendly, silk-like fabrics that reduce the environmental impact and are manufactured under better conditions than most traditional clothes.
“I like being part of something like the Conscious collection at H&M,” Paradis said in a press statement about the partnership.
“I try my best to shop consciously, and vintage is very much part of my wardrobe. I love the style and it works in an eco-friendly way because I like to use and reuse old clothes.”
8. Natalie Portman
The Oscar-winning actress is active and vocal about animal compassion, making a strong stance as a vegan both in diet and lifestyle. When it comes to fashion, she even requested that Dior custom design vegan shoes for her Miss Dior perfume campaign.
“One of the things that’s been so nice is that Dior made all of the shoes for me with no animals and no leather or anything, because I don’t wear any leather,” she told media at the time.
“They re-made all of my shoes so I can wear Dior shoes without taking lives.”
Portman also has also designed a vegan shoe collection and chooses clothes and red carpet gowns with an ethical edge, often wearing designs from Stella McCartney and H&M’s Conscious Collection. Her now-husband even had her wedding ring made with an antique, round diamond centrepiece, certified-conflict-free pave diamonds surrounding it and a band made of recycled metal platinum.
9. Emma Watson
The former Harry Potter star, modern-day feminist champion and all around Hollywood darling is well aware of the ethical responsibilities of the fashion world. As well as being a collaborator with ethical fashion organisation People Tree, she has teamed up with luxury Italian designer Alberta Ferretti to create Pure Threads, which is described by the brand as “a unique ecologic capsule collection”.
“…I wanted to be able to buy fashion knowing that it’s not harming the person who made it or the environment,” she says in an interview with InStyle magazine.
“I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian and environmental issues surrounding fast fashion…it’s important to be conscious of what we’re buying and where it comes from. As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful in what we buy.”
10. Pharrell Williams
The Happy singer is also clapping along to the tune of sustainable fashion, taking on the role of company director for fabric company Bionic Yarn. The brand, which has collaborated with G-Star RAW on a new line of denim, uses recycled plastic bottles for its yarns and fabrics.
In an interview with National Geographic, the singer, songwriter and entrepreneur says he wants to find “practical ways to make Earth conservation engagement accessible.”
“Fashion can be a universal player in protecting the planet. Fashion is certainly a huge part of everybody’s lives. You wear it every day and for some people it’s a status symbol, or a statement of how much they have spent on clothes, or it’s a means of expressing their identity and who they are,” he says.
“We [Bionic Yarn and G-Star Raw] are trying to infiltrate the entire spectrum of fashion, high-end and low. It’s a part of sustainability and the cause is to never throw anything [plastics and trash] into the ocean again. The ocean is just one part of the Earth we’re concentrating on, but the world is made up of 75 to 80 percent water. It’s a huge place to start.”
11. Neil Young
Last but not least on this list is music legend Neil Young. During his European summer tour in 2014, the rocker gave fans organic cotton t-shirts printed with PROTECT/EARTH on them. Writing on his website, he explains it was a way to show his appreciation to fans, and also to inspire people to “take a stand for EARTH in the ways that you can”.
Young goes on to outline the environmental impact of conventional cotton farming and manufacturing, before concluding that organic cotton is “the wiser option for both the health of people and the environment.”
What can we say? Neil Young is clearly a man after our own hearts! But all of the celebrities above are doing their part to make a difference in the fashion world. So as more and more people in the public eye speak out about ethical fashion and use their status to create change, the popularity of sustainable, environmental and socially aware fashion is bound to flow into the mainstream.