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14 Sep

How Ethical Is Stella McCartney?

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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?

Environmental impact

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.

Labour conditions

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.

Animal welfare

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.

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney.

Shop Stella McCartney @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Stella McCartney Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

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.

Bianca Spender

Rated: Good

Bianca Spender is Australian fashion royalty, who has taken sustainability into the heart of her label. From smart workwear to statement gowns, this is a label that employs the highest standards of design and quality. Bianca Spender uses deadstock fabric and natural fibres, making all her garments in Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited factories. Find the range in S-L.

See the rating.

Shop Bianca Spender.

Maggie Marilyn

Rated: Good

Need-to-know designer Maggie Marilyn’s clothes are defined by her strong sense of luxury and fresh point of view. Inspired to create collections that are more sustainable as well as beautiful, the New Zealand-based label utilises organic cottons and responsibly-produced silks to craft effortlessly glamorous designs.

Sizes available are XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Maggie Marilyn @ Farfetch.

Shop Maggie Marilyn Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Maggie Marilyn.

Chopova Lowena

Rated: Good

Avant-garde designer fashion for women by Central Saint Martins alumni Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena.

See the rating.

Shop Chopova Lowena.

Teatum Jones

Rated: Good

Teatum Jones is the luxury London-based label of Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones. Teatum Jones is known for its bold colours and textures with beautiful knitwear and flowing dresses.  They're also a favourite of Good On You supporter Emma Watson, who wore a stunning blue suit by the label to the recent G7 summit.

Most items are available in sizes 8-16.

See the rating.

Shop Teatum Jones.

Editor's note

Feature image via Stella McCartney, additional images via the brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use the directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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