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There’s no denying Stella McCartney’s eponymous label has set some good examples for high-end brands with its initiatives—but nobody’s perfect. Read on to find out how Stella McCartney treats animals, the planet, and its workers, and decide for yourself if the brand is ethical enough for your support as a conscious consumer. This article is based on the Stella McCartney rating published in August 2022.
Is Stella McCartney ethical and sustainable?
British designer Stella McCartney has been proudly creating “sustainable luxury fashion” for almost two decades. Boasting several huge achievements in eco-fashion—including designing Meghan Markle’s wedding reception dress—lifelong vegetarian Stella has always had ethics on her mind. But does her brand have any room for improvement?
Stella McCartney rates “It’s a Start” for the planet. The brand has set some good environmental standards using eco-friendly materials, including recycled polyester, organic cotton, and regenerated cashmere. It also has a policy to prevent deforestation in the supply chain. But we found no evidence Stella McCartney has set water management and greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, important pieces in the sustainability puzzle for companies to address on the ground level and throughout the supply chain.
This area needs the most attention from Stella McCartney if it truly aims to embody ethical practice across the board. The brand rates “It’s a Start” for people, too.
While it is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and has adopted a Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition, it is unclear whether Stella McCartney ensures a living wage is actually being paid to workers. While it monitors most of its supply chain and discloses policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19, these initiatives are only partially adequate.
Without ensuring the welfare, safety, and fair payment for the people who produce the luxury goods, it is impossible to award Stella McCartney a higher score in this category.
On the animal front, the British luxury brand rates “Good”. Lifelong vegetarian and animal-lover Stella has taken some positive steps for animal welfare over the years, including partnering with PETA on various projects, never using real fur in her designs, and aiming for more sustainable animal material options. The brand has a general statement about minimising animal suffering but not a formal animal welfare policy. And while Stella McCartney doesn’t use leather, down, fur, angora, shearling, or exotic animal skins or hairs, it does use wool (from non-mulesed sheep) and regenerated cashmere, which helps negate the impact on both the environment and animals.
Overall rating: Good
Based on our research, we rate Stella McCartney “Good” overall. The brand can be proud of its achievements for the environment and animals—it is truly setting a high standard that we can only hope other luxury fashion brands take heed of in future. However, there’s always room for improvement, particularly in its labour conditions, payment of a living wage, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives. As consumers, we have the right to open and honest communication from brands about what goes on behind the scenes.
Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.
Similar brands to Stella McCartney
While Stella McCartney is undoubtedly a leader in its field, it has some improvements to make and may not be exactly what you are looking for. Here are some more sustainable luxury fashion brands like Stella McCartney.