An interesting article in the Financial Times talks about the prevalence towards sustainable design in this year’s Oscar dresses.
Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth and eco-fashion campaigner, launched a “Green Carpet Challenge” to high end designers in 2009 which invites them to create red-carpet designs using only sustainable materials. So far names such as Armani and Gucci have responded, creating luxury garments fashioned from ethical materials that don’t compromise on desirability.
At this year’s Oscar’s the winning “Red Carpet Green Dress” dress which was designed by Valentina Delfino will be worn by Missi Pyle, an actress in nominated film The Artist – meaning significant exposure for an ecologically-sound design.
This kind of “upcycling”, or the next wave of recycling, is not an entirely new trend. British designer duo Clements Ribiero is one brand that has been considering the sustainability aspects of their designs for some time.
They comment: “We didn’t start off to create a conscience product. But, if we do our bit to help, it is an added bonus. For us it was more a case of finding astounding fabric at vintage fairs, beautiful hand-crafted bits that told a story – it was a pity to see that all go to waste.”
Other designers such as Christopher Raeburn and jewellery designer Katherine Alexander have embraced this trend, with lines created almost exclusively out of re-appropriated or otherwise “scrap” materials.
Running a luxury brand in a ‘sustainable’ manner makes sense from a marketing point of view – previous articles on this blog have discussed the damage to brands that could disadvantage them as they compete for global customers if they are seen to be unsustainable.
Within Janusian thinking, this kind of sustainable luxury has the greatest appeal to a Lambda. The knowledge that the product has a rich history embedded within it, particularly in the case of Clements Ribiero’s designs, is what spurs this kind of consumer, whereas for a Theta, the appeal would come more from purchasing a product from a high-end brand.
Later this spring Firth will introduce a sustainable collaboration with Yoox.com. It will be interesting to see whether increased consumer demand will force more luxury brands to consider sustainability as a central part of their business agenda.