Fashion + Sustainability

Storytelling our way to sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion has really taken flight in recent months. Everywhere you shop, the words “ethical” and “sustainable” have appeared. Brands all over the world are becoming more and more aware of their impact on the planet. Most of these brands are sharing their sustainable journey through storytelling. But how can we use storytelling to keep pushing sustainable fashion in the right direction?

What is storytelling in fashion?

Storytelling is a creative art that grabs the consumers attention, making them interested in particular brands. It has become and integral part of advertising and many designers rely on it to sell their products. More recently, brands have been using their storytelling platforms to push consumers towards sustainable fashion.

Take ASOS for example. For 9 years now, ASOS have partnered up with SOKO Kenya, an ethical clothing manufacturer. Storytelling has become a critical part of the ASOS brand. A sample machinist for the brand, Gaia Waters says, “I believe it is an important part of the ASOS brands, it paves the way of how fashion houses should approach diversity, ethicality and sustainability into our clothes. It helps the consumer dress for what they stand for and subtly tells their story through what they choose to wear. It definitely shapes how people view the brand.”

What about luxury brands?

We have seen how an affordable brand like ASOS links their storytelling to sustainability, but what about the more luxurious brands? As consumers, we’re so used to the ways in which our high street brands approach storytelling. Do the luxury brands do it differently, if at all?

Perhaps a luxury brand can be more subtle with their storytelling. Take Alexander McQueen, for example. His brands’ storytelling works along the lines of a reputation for shocking the audience. He uses his catwalk shows to tell a story, leading people to buy from his brand. Quite a different way of doing things, don’t you think?

Before his untimely death in 2010, Alexander McQueen was considered a master of storytelling. His shows often shocked audiences and conveyed a disturbing message. According to the Daily Mail, McQueen stated; “I don’t want to do a cocktail party: I’d rather people left my shows and vomited,” he said. “I prefer extreme reactions.

This is much less conventional than our high street stores using adverts and shop window displays. Yet, it is to be respected as a theatrical form of storytelling, nonetheless. Both adverts and catwalks are ways of conveying a message about the brand to the consumer.

But what about luxury and sustainable storytelling?

If I asked you to tell me a designer brand renowned for its sustainable attitude to fashion, you’d no doubt mention Stella McCartney. Since her brand began in 2001, McCartney has done her utmost to become one of the leading brands in sustainable fashion. She was even the first to use vegetarian leather at a time when people doubted its success as a substitute!

So how does storytelling fit into Stella McCartney’s brand image? Well, for a start, her website makes it very clear that she’s all about sustainability and ethical fashion. The first things you’re faced with are vegetarian leather handbags and patterns that celebrate nature. There’s even a whole section of her website dedicated to her passion for sustainability, entitled “Stella’s World”. In a way, this is similar to ASOS and their ethical fashion. They make it clear on their website, that’s what they stand for.

Furthermore, Stella McCartney does an Alexander McQueen and tells her story of sustainability through her fashion shows. While sometimes, the designer may opt for a more subtle message, her Spring 2020 show was fairly blunt about it. Whilst the models strutted down the runway, the background showed a looped video of animals making love to each other. A cute yet very obvious message. The collection accompanying this back drop is said to be her most sustainable collection to date, with an astounding 75% of the materials coming from eco-friendly sources.

Storytelling for everyone

Storytelling comes in many forms whether it be catwalk, adverts, or websites. Every brand and designer uses it as an essential tool to help market their products and lure customers in. Using storytelling to promote sustainability helps a brand seem more eco-conscious and consumers feel as though they can relate to the brand more. It draws the audience closer and encourages a creative bond between the brand and the consumer. Storytelling paints an intriguing picture that the audience just has to know more about.

Because, everyone loves a good story, right?

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