“Would You Buy a Plastic Suit from Stella McCartney?” asks a recent New York Times article. One may immediately respond, “no,” imagining a sport coat and accompanying slacks made of clear, unyielding material, or, perhaps, simply wrapping oneself in cling-wrap like a mummy. But what if we told you wearing “garbage,” as the Times puts it, isn’t wearing garbage at all, but rather something that was once waste but has been completely transformed into something new.
Plastic has polluted the world’s oceans nearly since its invention around the mid-1800s, constituting anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of total marine debris. According to Parley,
“at least 40 million pounds of plastic has accumulated and is floating in the North Pacific Ocean alone.”
It enters the ocean as discarded fishing gear, ship waste, trash left on beaches, and even through properly-disposed-of plastic garbage. Sunlight breaks down this plastic into small pieces called “microplastics.” They seep into our oceans, carried by waterways like streams or rivers, or sometimes blown off garbage trucks or away from mismanaged landfills, to be consumed by aquatic life. As the production of plastic grows annually, so does the amount that wastes away in our oceans. Five gyres have even formed: they’re huge, slow-moving vortexes where plastic collects and remains.
That’s where fashion comes in, by literally taking trash and turning it into treasure.
You may already be aware of Pharrell Williams’ campaign with G-Star RAW, Bionic Yarn, and Parley for the Oceans (naturally titled G-Star RAW for the Oceans). It was the world’s first denim collection made from ocean plastic--not that you could tell. With the tagline “Turning the tide on ocean plastic pollution,” RAW for the Oceans turned concern about plastic pollution into wearable solutions that looked and felt as beautiful as regular denim.
Following a collaboration with Adidas, Parley has now partnered with British designer and animal rights advocate Stella McCartney for an upcoming clothing line set to debut next month. Unlike G-Star RAW’s denim duds or Adidas’ athletic wear, Stella McCartney x Parley will offer luxury pieces including bags and outerwear. On using ocean plastic instead of polyester, McCartney says, "To take something that is destructive and turn it into something that’s sexy and cool, how can that not be luxury?”
And it sounds pretty Fashionkind to us.
Fashion makes use of plastic from sources other than our oceans: designers such as VOZ take recycled plastic bottles to turn them into your favorite piece. Shop the look here and here, and make your impact.
Image sourced from Google