23 Jul

How Ethical Is Stella McCartney?

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?

There’s no denying Stella McCartney’s eponymous label have set some good examples for high-end labels with their initiatives – but nobody’s perfect! Read on to find out how Stella McCartney treat animals, the planet, and their workers, and decide for yourself if they are ethical enough for your support as a conscious consumer.

Environmental Impact: Good

Stella McCartney are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and have set some good environmental standards. They use numerous eco-friendly materials including recycled polyester, organic cotton, and regenerated cashmere. They have waste-reduction strategies in place across their entire supply chain, and they measure and report on their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Taking it a step further, they have set an approved science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a 2020 deadline for the elimination of hazardous chemicals in their production line. They are also doing well on the water front – with water reduction targets in place, and a solid treatment and discharge practice for wastewater. The main letdown for the brand in this category is their continued use of some non-eco-friendly materials such as polyester and nylon, both of which are derived from fossil fuels.

Labour Conditions: It’s a Start

This is the area that needs the most attention from Stella McCartney if they wish to truly embody ethical practice across the board. While they are a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and have adopted their Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition, it is not guaranteed that a living wage is actually being paid to workers. While they do trace suppliers across their entire supply chain and publicly list the countries of said suppliers, they do not share a complete and detailed list. Without being transparent about exactly where their products are produced, by whom, and in what conditions, it is impossible to award them a higher score in this category.

Animal Welfare: 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 sustainable animal material options. While the brand doesn’t use leather, down, fur, angora, shearling or exotic animal skins or hairs, it does use wool and cashmere. Although the cashmere is regenerated, negating the impact on both environment and animal, Stella McCartney do not specify sources for their wool production. However, they have partnered with PETA this year to co-sponsor a prize for the Biodesign Challenge which encourages college students worldwide to develop bio-fabricated vegan wool.

Overall Rating: Good

Rated: Good

Good On You has given the Stella McCartney label a ‘Good’ rating based on our own research. They should be proud of their achievements for the environment and animals – they are truly setting a high standard that we can only hope other luxury fashion brands take heed of in future. However, there’s room for improvement in their labour conditions.  As consumers, we have the right to open and honest communication from brands about what goes on behind the scenes.

Editor's note

Feature image via Stella McCartney.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.