Stella McCartney leads the way to plant-based fashions

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle Paul McCartney, has been a vegetarian all her life.  As a fashion designer, she is well-known for using mostly plant-based materials.  She has been using various leather-alternatives, including one made from grapes and another that is mushroom based. She recently launched a $200 million investment fund for eco-friendly businesses and vegan leather brand, Bolt Threads, was one of the recipients.

Her latest quest is to find a plant-based alternative to using the ordinary silk produced by silkworms.  The worms are killed in the production process, when they are dropped into boiling water so that they unravel the silk they have formed into a cocoon.  The silk can then be collected, but the worms die before they are able to transform into moths.

Currently, McCartney’s collections use a mixture of traditional silk and Peace silk, a kinder process that allows the insects to turn into moths and fly away. She recently read about a plant-based silk that comes from plants in Morocco, so she is on a quest to find out more about that.

In recent years, there’s been a growing awareness of the cruelty of using animals for fashion.  While most people recognize the cruelty of using fur, they have not been aware of the impact of the leather industry, which is so much more than just a byproduct of the beef industry.  Fortunately there’s been an influx of sustainable leather alternatives used by mainstream designers in the last few years, and a number of brands have ditched other animal-derived materials like mohair, exotic animal skins and angora.  Moving away from silk may be the next big move for the fashion industry to make.