Stella McCartney: My son thinks Cop28 is “greenwashing” and I should tell them to f-off

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Flying thousands of miles to a wealthy petrostate to host glamorous events at a climate conference might therefore seem like an interesting choice.

But McCartney insisted that the real disconnect was between the reality of the fashion industry and its public face.

“Fashion is one of the few industries that you don’t see,” she said. “You’re not allowed to see animals being killed. You’re not allowed to see guns being made. And you’re not allowed to see drugs being made. That’s my conversation.”

The designer said the fashion industry was “a hot mess”, and needed to be scaled down, arguing that the number of clothing brands was unsustainable.

“It sounds terrible, but I just think there’s far too many,” she said. She hit out in particular at fast fashion, which she said was “a criminal offence, in my opinion.”

“The model of fashion has to change entirely. The waste in fashion is extraordinary,” she said. “Every single second a truckload of fast fashion is buried or burnt. It’s not sustainable. And it’s quite frankly, morally incorrect.

“People are key to the conversation. If they don’t buy that stuff, there is no supply of that stuff.”

It is a tricky message for McCartney, a multi-millionaire household name who makes garments that retail for thousands, to tell people not to buy cheap clothes.

Labelling herself “one of the first nepo babies”, McCartney said she was aware of her privilege and the financial challenges faced by many. But she is blunt about her message.

“I’m in touch enough with that. And it is a problem,” she said. “But I have to say sadly, we’re living in a day and age where if you want to eat better food for the planet, and for the creatures on the planet, and for your health, if you want to buy better things that will have less of a negative impact on the planet, they come at a cost.”

She adds: “I don’t want it to be that way, I want it to be the absolute opposite. But sadly, we’ve arrived at a place where it costs more to be good.”

‘Penalised for doing good’

Given her unflinching morals, McCartney comes under particular scrutiny for her brand, but said she has become resilient to pushback within the industry.

“Am I ever told to shut the fuck up? I’ve had a lot of that in my career,” she said. “I mean, I’ve been ridiculed for the majority of my career. First of all, I was Paul McCartney’s daughter in every interview.

“I was made fun of for not using fur. I was the only one not using fur. So we’ve come a long way.”

Last year, McCartney launched a $200 million start-up fund jointly backed by LVMH, for whom she is a sustainability adviser.

Some of the start-up’s first funding projects are on display in Dubai, including a  technology that uses enzymes to break down plastic waste and turn it into infinitely recyclable material, and a fake fur made from natural materials.

“I’m really at Cop to give solutions about swapping out bad industry for good,” she said. “I’m trying to use my privilege to have a conversation and bring awareness.”

She will meet with high profile business leaders while in Dubai to press the case for more investment in sustainable fashion, and is calling on politicians to incentivise greener materials and production methods.

“You’re penalised for doing good things,” she said. “I’m taxed up to 30 per cent more by taking non leather products into America. I don’t put that on my customer, I put it on my margin.

“So I’m penalised as a business for trying to not kill a billion animals a year.”

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