Sustainable fashion is the future; ethical fashion influencers and brands are leading the way

The rise of Gen Z is quickly changing the landscape of luxury fashion. Sustainability has become a hot topic and major selling point, as ethically conscious young consumers expect brands to address their social and environmental impact.

At the same time, influencer marketing and Gen Z’s use of social media as a primary source of information are determining the market direction. So what will the future of luxury fashion look like?

Luxury Brands Of The New Climate

Sustainable fashion has been a trending topic within the fashion industry for years, and is still on the rise. The demand for ethical and environmentally conscious brands, especially from younger consumers, keeps growing—Gen Z is much more concerned with the impact of fashion on the planet than older generations, and values brand integrity.

stella mccartney drome gabriela hearst sustainable fashion brands

Moreover, after the crisis originated by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers tend to value quality over quantity, and clothing staples are favored over trending items that will fade after a season.

The luxury fashion market is adapting, and new sustainable brands are emerging. Modern womenswear label DROMe addresses sustainability by ensuring leather is responsibly sourced, reducing chemical impact and water consumption, and producing only order quantities. With Spring Summer 21, DROMe launched UPCYCLED, a capsule collection where every piece is made out of existing garments and recovered materials.

drome upcycled clothing collection

In 2019, Gabriela Hearst, the namesake label of the former Uruguayan model and fashion designer, went plastic free by introducing TIPA flexible packaging, a bio-based alternative to plastic that is fully compostable within six months. The Spring Summer 21 collection is comprised of 60% deadstock materials, and the label has set a goal of eliminating the use of virgin materials by 2022.

A brand that has been synonymous with sustainability for years is Stella McCartney. McCartney’s mission is “to create a product which is still sexy, desirable and luxurious, that isn’t landfill”, and the brand is committed to not using fur, leather or feathers in its designs.

vegan leather ethical fashion brands

Sustainable Fashion Brands That Know How To Adapt

While the rise of ethical fashion and new technologies can prove challenging for the luxury fashion market, well established high-end brands know how to adapt.

Gucci’s recent Off The Grid collection is, in creative director Alessandro Michele’s words, “a symbol for the new era”. Off The Grid is a unisex capsule collection offering clothing and accessories made from recycled, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials, like Econyl regenerated nylon.

This is not the first step taken by Gucci towards sustainability—with the Circular Lines initiative, Gucci is implementing a circular production to reduce waste across all its collections.

gucci off the grid sustainable fashion collection

Balenciaga is also keeping up with the times. 93.5 percent of the materials used in the Summer 21 pre-collection are either certified sustainable or upcycled, while most pieces are unisex, to “diminish the environmental impact of a gendered production model”.

Moreover, the sustainable fashion house is celebrating this year’s Pride Month with a capsule collection, honoring Gen Z and the LGBTQ+ community.

balenciaga sustainable fashion

Louis Vuitton, one of the oldest names in the luxury space, also continues to be wildly relevant. In 2017, streetwear king Supreme and Louis Vuitton joined in an unexpected collaboration, resulting in arguably one of the most successful collections of the year.

Luxury and streetwear prove once again to be a winning combination in the social media era. Consumer demand for streetwear continues to rise, and the collaboration helped Louis Vuitton appeal to younger generations.

louis vuitton x supreme accessories

louis vuitton airplane bag

The brand’s Fall Winter 2021 Airplane Bag also went viral on social media, but for different reasons. The purse, shaped as an airplane and featuring the label’s signature brown pattern, retails for the controversial price of $39,000. However, artistic director Abloh has explained that the ambitious collection has a deeper meaning, as it is meant to explore and redefine male archetypes and uniforms.

Luxury and sustainable fashion brands are also experimenting with new technologies, by offering Augmented Reality shopping experiences and 360° runway fashion shows.

Influencer Marketing In The Fashion Industry

As young generations rely on social media not merely for entertainment but as a source of information, influencer marketing has become a key component of fashion brands’ marketing strategies. While high-street brands excel on Instagram and TikTok, luxury labels are also picking up on viral trends and establishing influencer collaborations.

fashion influencers

fashion influencers

By collaborating with influencers, fashion brands can reach a wide audience in a more genuine, unique way than with traditional marketing. The content creator is likely to hold credibility with their followers, as opposed to celebrity endorsements, which Gen Z-ers see as commercial and inauthentic.

Futuristic urban chic brand Off-White is the perfect example of how influencer marketing can help a newer label bloom. Founder Virgil Abloh has close connections with celebrity influencers such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, who happily wear his clothes and post them on social media. Collaborations with brands such as Nike and Levi’s have also helped Off-White reach a wider audience.

off-white virgil abloh

Even legendary fashion house Louis Vuitton has established collaborations with Love Island’s Molly-Mae and YouTube star Emma Chamberlain, who today has 13 million Instagram followers and was included on Time Magazine’s TIME 100 Next list, and listed among the 25 Most Influential People On The Internet. In 2020, Emma was invited to the Louis Vuitton virtual Paris Fashion Week show, along with other influencers.

Similarly, Chanel invited influencers to its virtual Paris Fashion week in October 2020. Among them, Australian social media phenomenon Sarah Ellen, who shared outfit posts using the hashtag #ChanelSpringSummer.

Post-pandemic, and in a fast-changing world, the future of sustainable fashion looks rosier than expected. High-end brands are quickly adapting and keeping up with trends, staying culturally relevant.

Learn more about how to shop sustainably.


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