Stella McCartney has long used new collections as a space to introduce new ideas — not just in terms of how we dress, but also in how the industry can create, source, and produce responsibly. The self-described "vegetarian company" has long been committed to proving you don't need to use animal products to sell luxury designs. McCartney did this first with her faux fur coats, and now, for AW17, she's doing it with a new type of faux leather she's calling "skin-free skin."
The brand has used vegetarian leather in its accessories offerings for awhile now - just look at the outstanding success of the Falabella and Elyse, both silhouettes that have become synonymous with her business. But the designer told The Guardian that she'd held back from incorporating it into her ready-to-wear "because it never looked luxurious enough," perhaps at risk of cheapening the brand's look.
The introduction of "skin-free skin" is not only a step forward for the brand in terms of its choice of fabrics to work with for each collection, but also for the industry, according to McCartney. "I am so excited that we have finally developed fabrics that look just as good as the real thing, and therefore genuinely pose a question to the industry about why anyone needs to use leather any more," the designer told The Guardian.
The new material was threaded throughout the collection, front-and-centre in patchwork faux-suede-and-leather dresses, and more subtly embedded into the detailing on jersey sets. The AW'17 range of accessories, which include cap-toe heels and top-handle totes, are also rendered in the innovative "skin-free skin" fabric. No details about the make-up of this new-and-improved faux leather were immediately available, but, thanks to the brand's fierce commitment to transparency, you can read all about what Stella McCartney clothes are made of on its website.
McCartney launched her eponymous brand in 2001 as a vegetarian luxury brand — a label that was somewhat hard to convince others of, she's said in retrospect. Over the years, she's continuously experimented with different materials to offer ethical alternatives to what was available on the market. There was the fur-free fur she introduced for pre-fall '15, and the sustainably-sourced viscose she committed to using moving forward in spring '17.
The designer's mission has been to reduce the damage and waste created by her products, and encourage others in the industry to do the same - including those also owned by Stella McCartney's parent company Kering. "I don’t support [the use of leather and exotic animal fabrics], but [Kering] supports me and my beliefs, and I’m a firm believer in infiltrating from within," she said at the business's annual talk at the Center for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion last year, according to Forbes. Let's see if any of the luxury conglomerate's other brands follow in McCartney's footsteps, and take measures towards cruelty-free fashion.