Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway the new faces of sustainable fashion?

Left to right: Emma Watson photographed for Elle UK and Anne Hathaway in secondhand Stella McCartney. Images courtesy Elle and Telegraph.

It is said often that fashion is the second worst polluting industry, however, every quarter fast fashion companies record growth and increase profit margins. At the 2016 Copenhagen Fashion Summit, New York Times fashion editor, Vanessa Friedman, suggested a solution to this disconnect: Sustainability needs to be sexy. She’s not alone in suggesting this niches needs a facelift. Last year, Berlin based writer, Elle Köhrer, shared a similar sentiment when we spoke about her book, Fashion Made Fair. The coffee table read was motivated by her want to shift perspectives of sustainable fashion.

It appears the community is taking heed; changing what and how the niche is communicated. Thanks in part to the efforts of Ecoage’s Green Carpet Challenge and the brilliant instagram presence of so called “sustainable” brands such as Patagonia and The Acey. As sustainable fashion heads mainstream, it has gained some celebrity endorsement. Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway are two of the names providing support for the sustainable fashion movement.

Watson, for example, curated an instagram during her ‘Beauty and the Beast’ press tour that showcased her ‘conscious’ style. Her outfits included vintage, collaboration pieces from the likes of Dior and less known (but equally beautiful) brands such as Veja and Coltrane. Her move inspired Anne Hathaway to incorporate sustainability into her wardrobe. While this participation is great and creates awareness of sustainable fashion, endorsements from Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway got me thinking about Friedman’s ‘sexy’ solution.

Anne Hathaway the new face of sustainable fashion Anne Hathaway wearing archival Armani Prive on the red carpet. Image via @pennylovellstylist

Are Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway the faces sustainable fashion needs right now?

On paper they would be the perfect fit. They are both seen as ‘wholesome’. Watson, for example, give speeches at the United Nations and is usually praised for being “grounded”. Given sustainability is about driving a “do good” attitude, there shouldn’t be any issues…right?

In theory, the answer would be yes. However, reality brings with it nuance. We, as consumers or buyers of fashion, want to feel as though something speaks to us. And the concept of sustainability still seems too clean, too goody goody, somewhat unattainable. So the use of “Hollywood good girls” Emma Watson and Anne Hathaway might be doing more damage than good. It might be pushing sustainable fashion even farther away from the everyday shopper who might want to dabble in sustainable fashion; buy vintage, research brands and support ethical designers.

Questioning where Watson and Hathaway’s endorsement sits in the rebranding of sustainable fashion is not to discredit the work they have done and are doing to shed a light on this niche. It is simply to point out the need for diverse spokespeople within the community moving forward. I’d love to see a converted Rihanna.