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Confused about which fabrics are the most durable? Stylists and eco-experts reveal the best choices you can make on the red carpet


Climate advocate and writer Sophia Li believes the fashion world is on the brink of an “innovation boom.” Li – who attended the 2023 Green Carpet Fashion Awards in March in an architectural corset from a vegan sister label Felder Felder made of a leather-like material made from mango waste Fruit Leather Rotterdam – sees lab-made plastics and biomaterials usher in “a new wave of fashion as we know it”.

Hannah Einbinder at Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2022 in a custom One/Of tuxedo made from 100 percent upcycled material.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

For stylists and consumers alike, it can be a process of determining what sustainability means to them, whether that means looking at the carbon footprint of materials, whether natural fibers are organic and ethical, and whether production is transparent. The process can be even trickier for the shiny materials expected on the red carpet.

“There’s such a nuance to that conversation,” says Mary Fellowesfounder of GreenWith Studio, a London-based consultancy that bridges fashion, sustainability and technology and has collaborated with Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Calvin Klein. (Also a stylist, Fellowes helped Olivia Colman dress consciously in her The favorite season run awards.)

Li finds the rise of lab-made plastics and biomaterials exciting. For eye-catching learning alternatives, she looks to resources such as Bolt Wireswhat makes Myloa leathery material made from mushroom root systems via renewable energy, but also based on yeast Micro side.

Last year, Stella McCartney, a Bolt Threads employee since 2017, introduced the necklace detailed Frayme Mylo bag ($2,650), the first mold luxury handbag to hit the consumer market.

Tory Burch - Ella Bio Bag - Modern Meadow - Lab Tests

The Torch Burch Ella Bio Bag is tested in the Modern Meadow laboratories.

Modern meadow

And in February biotech company Modern meadowwhich focuses on protein-based technology, collaborated with Tory Burch on the brand’s first plant-based bag. The Ella bio‘s ($298-$348) outer shell is made from USDA certified BioFabbrica Bio-Tex, derived from non-GMO soy grown in North America, and developed in a joint venture with an Italian textile and material supplier lemonade. “Their own DNA really passes sustainabilitysays Catherine Roggero-Lovisi, CEO of Modern Meadow, highlighting Limonta’s closed loop production. The new fabrication uses Modern Meadow’s Bio-Alloy to paint technology that offers high-end options in bold colorways across a wide range of textiles, also by “reducing water use by 95 percent and energy use by 65 percent,” she adds.

Stefani Robinson attends Searchlight Pictures special screening in Los Angeles "Knight" at El Capitan Theater on April 16, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Stefani Robinson attends the special screening of Searchlight Pictures’ “Chevalier” in Los Angeles on April 16, 2023. She wore a Ronald van der Kemp corset dress made from deadstock.

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Fellowes and her team vetted a list of “materials that we believe are significantly cleaner and greener” than petroleum-based plastics. For silky draped looks, “Tencel Luxe would be my first choice if I wasn’t into deadstock or old season,” Fellowes says of one of Lenzing’s Tencel products made from cellulose fiber sourced from responsibly sourced wood pulp. For the 2023 Oscars, Zac Posen used Tencel Luxe for a bias cut front dress RCGD worldwide ambassador and Avatar: the way of the water starring Bailey Bass. (RCGD Global, founded by Suzy Amis Cameron, has a ongoing collaboration with Tencel.)

GCFAs Founder and Eco-Age Creative Director Livia Firth attends the 2023 Green Carpet Fashion Awards at NeueHouse Hollywood on March 9, 2023 in Hollywood, California.

GCFA Founder and Eco-Age Creative Director Livia Firth attends the 2023 Green Carpet Fashion Awards at NeueHouse Hollywood. She once again wore a vintage Alexander McQueen dress.

Dave Benett/Getty Images

Fellowes also suggests Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certified Resilk, developed by the family-run, energy-saving Italian mill Mantero. The fine and soft fabric of regenerated silk is made from silk production waste. They use some seriously smart technologysays Fellowes, pointing to emission-saving photovoltaics and an LED lighting system, which saves up to 65% on electricity consumption.

Fellowes hopes to see more innovation around “shiny, glittery, fabulous, glamorous stuff” for the red carpet.

She points to the biobased sequins seen on the April cover of Fashionwhere Cara Delevingne teased the future in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit shimmering with BioSequins, made with startup Radiant matter. This alternative to ecologically devastating sequins is plastic-free, non-toxic and biodegradable – but not yet commercially available.

Cara Delevingne - Vogue Cover - Radiant Matter BioSequins

The world’s first BioSequin garment debuted on the Fashion April 2023 Cover Story, worn by eco-activist Cara Delevingne.


Also from the Kering Group Material Innovation Lab (MIL)opened in 2013, continues research and develop sustainable luxury materials, including a lurex alternative through biodegradable glitters with woman-owned BioGlitz.

Bailey Bass attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California.

Bailey Bass attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in a Zac Posen dress made from Tencel Luxe.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

But, warns Livia Giuggioli Firth, founder of both the Green Carpet Fashion Awards and sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, “it’s very important when we address this topic to not just make it material-focused.” With the eco-fabric sector in a nascent phase of consumer scalability, Firth says a heavy focus on these high-tech alternatives is “almost a distraction.” What’s more, one-off, high-profile sustainable collaborations can even feel “symbolic,” she argues, while not fully addressing society’s fast-fashion consumption, which leads to 34 billion pounds of used textiles being thrown into U.S. landfills each year — landfills which are 2.8 billion. times more likely near communities with higher percentages of BIPOC residents, according to one Boston University study.

Ayo Edebiri at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, California on February 26, 2023.

Ayo Edebiri at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Feb. 26, 2023, wearing an Emilia Wickstead dress made from scraps.

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images)

Often times, the most sustainable materials for the red carpet already exist: unused, leftover, or leftover fabrics and fixtures. For the SAG Awards, stylist Laura Sophie Cox dressed Ayo Edebiri in an Emilia Wickstead plaid dress made from leftovers. She also dressed Knight writer-producer Stefani Robinson in an elaborate floral application Ronald van der Kemp corset dress made of deadstock. “You advocate for a brand that is completely transparent about their supply chain,” says Cox.

Past Oscars, Patricia Voto, founder of One of the, a made-to-order line in New York’s Garment District that uses deadstock, designed a stunning white silk satin and chiffon tuxedo made from 100 percent upcycled materials for Hannah Einbinder. An alum of Rosie Assoulin and Altuzarra, Voto regularly taps into her network of factories and sellers for unused luxury fabrics and embellishments, such as Swarovski for lavish crystals to embellish Madison Beer’s 2021 Met Gala emerald robe.

“It feels special,” says Voto. “It’s very artful to use what you have and breathe life into it.”

A version of this story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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