Stella McCartney is teaming up with Google to tackle fashion’s sustainability problem

It’s no secret the fashion industry has a big problem when it comes to sustainability: every year £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill according to WRAP UK.

The champion of sustainable fashion is undoubtedly Stella McCartney, with the British designer spearheading the uses of recyclable fabrics, organic cotton and synthetic leathers.

That’s why it’s great to see McCartney teaming up with Google’s Cloud platform in a new pilot which aims to improve sustainability in the fashion supply chain.

Announced today at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the pilot aims to empower brands by offering them greater insight on the impact of their supply chains. Stella McCartney’s data will be analysed using Google’s Cloud tech alongside industry sources to assess the impact of the label’s use of raw materials on key environmental metrics, such as air pollution, land use, and water and energy consumption.

This is particularly important as it is estimated the fashion industry accounts for 20 per cent of wastewater and 10 per cent of carbon emissions globally. That’s a lot for one sector.

In addition, machine learning tech will be used to enable brands to estimate the environmental impact of a particular item of clothing at the sourcing and design stages.

It’s all about using data to translate into insights that brands and companies can take action. For instance, if they discover that they are using a lot of viscose, which has links to the destruction of endangered forests, then a company can use this information to find a more environmentally-friendly option.

Speaking about the initiative, McCartney said: “At Stella McCartney, we have been continuously focusing on looking at responsible and sustainable ways to conduct ourselves in fashion, it is at the heart of what we do. We are trying our best –we aren’t perfect, but we are opening a conversation that hasn’t really been had in the history of fashion.”

McCartney's Loop sneakers are completely recyclable from head to toe (Stella McCartney )
McCartney's Loop sneakers are completely recyclable from head to toe (Stella McCartney )

Whilst Stella McCartney is the first brand involved in the pilot, the buck doesn’t stop here. Google says it is actively working with fashion brands, experts, NGOs and industry bodies in order to create an open industry-wide tool that any company can use.

Ultimately, Google hopes the experiment will help companies make better sourcing decisions when it comes to raw materials to ensure sustainability is baked into their brand strategies from the start.

After all, fashion is an extremely important part of everyone’s lives but the world shouldn’t have to suffer for our shopping habits.