Material Matters: How Sustainable Brands Are Reinventing Fashion

3 min read

Bite Studios

Sustainability has become a buzzword in fashion, with brands, buyers and designers looking for more planet-friendly alternatives that address the industry’s harmful impact on the environment. And with World Environment Day celebrated on June 5 and World Oceans Day on June 8, the beginning of this month places a further spotlight on the brands not only championing sustainability, but the ones paving the way for a new kind of fashion — whether it’s through innovative fabrics, locally made garments or an ethical ethos. 

“One of the original sustainability pioneers, Stella McCartney has always championed animal welfare within her business and collections,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director of Net-A-Porter. An established eco-friendly brand, Stella McCartney is known for its material innovation; knitwear is made from re-engineered cashmere, wool is sourced from hand-selected farms  carefully chosen based on their commitment to animal welfare and viscose is sustainably sourced in a way that helps to protect ancient forests and the species. 

Stella McCartney SS20

Stella McCartney is also exploring new ways of creating silk, with traditional silk often harvested from silkworms that are consequently killed, the brand is partnering with biotechnology company Bolt Threads to create a new generation of lab-grown silk made from advanced materials. While Salvatore Ferragamo is using silk crafted from orange peel and under the radar brand, Bite Studios, is opting for the peace silk method. 

“Bite Studios use peace silk which is pretty amazing,” says Elizabeth von der Goltz. “The silk fabric is created with silk worms but they are not harmed in the process, meaning they can finish their work and pass peacefully. This obviously takes more time, but allows the silkworms to live out their lives in a natural way and the results are just as beautiful. I love Bite Studios hemp and silk-blend straight-leg pants which were created using peace silk.”

Hemp and silk-blend straight-leg pants, Bite Studios at Net-A-Porter

Maggie Marilyn is another brand that relies on sustainable textiles with all fabrics ethically sourced or recycled. The label uses organic cotton and recycled polyester, and prides itself on transparency with each garment detailing where the fabric has been supplied from and who made the piece. “Maggie Marilyn is a brand that champions the ‘Locally Made’ attribute with products produced in New Zealand [where the brand is based]” says Elizabeth von der Goltz.

The brand is built upon fair working conditions, legitimate living wages, and eco and ethical production. “I believe it is my responsibility to do better than those before me,” says founder Maggie Hewitt. “I want to produce clothing that enriches the lives of the customer however Maggie Marilyn clothing must equally enrich the lives of the people in our supply chain and the life of our home, mother nature.”

sustainable brands


Closer to home, another brand that prides itself on ethical luxury is Saudi Arabian label Abadia. The brand works with female artisans that use and preserve traditional techniques and knowledge such as embroidery, woven sadu and beading — intricate details that are then used elevate everyday linens, shirts that fall to the floor and breezy kaftans in a natural palette of sand, terracotta and beige. 

The contemporary garments that are richly embedded with culture and designed as investment pieces to be passed down the generations, offering an alternative sustainable angle with timeless silhouettes that respect both humanity and the environment. 


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  • Words by Jenna Calvert