Every glamorous celebrity event features a red carpet, prominent names, and, of course, a plethora of clothes. But what effect does this have on the environment?
In May 2021, Billie Eilish walked the Met Gala red carpet in a Grace Kelly-inspired ball gown, exuding old Hollywood beauty.
She looked elegant and lovely in peach, but she was also determined. Because the musician’s Oscar de la Renta outfit comes at a cost: the business must remove fur from its shelves permanently. And so it was.
“I am overjoyed that the entire team listened to me on this subject,” Eilish stated at the time. “They have now created a shift that has an impact not only on animals but also on our planet and ecosystem.”
She didn’t, however, stop at the Met. During the 2022 awards season, Eilish continued to make strong and ethical fashion statements alongside her mother Maggie Baird, the founder of the food insecurity-focused plant-based nonprofit Support and Feed.
Eilish wore a black, ruffled Gucci gown fashioned of deadstock for her Oscars presentation, where she won Best Original Song alongside her brother Finneas for No Time to Die (which consists of previously rejected or unused fabric).
Baird accompanied her daughter to the Grammys, where she was nominated in seven categories, wearing a brilliant red Mohammad Benchellal gown made from repurposed materials.
Here’s why their red carpet attire matters to animals and the environment.
The issue with red carpet attire
The film and music award season often lasts several months, beginning in November and ending in the spring of the following year. Each flashy event features a red carpet, huge names, and, of course, several dresses.
According to Vogue, there are over 60 wardrobe alternatives for a single celebrity at a single event (which gives you an idea of the scale of garments required across the whole season). However, all of that apparel has an impact on the environment. To begin with, there is all the waste it generates.
Clothing waste is a major issue in the fashion industry. A garbage truck full of textile waste is predicted to be dumped or burnt every second. However, when brands use repurposed fabrics or deadstock for clothing, such as those worn by Eilish and Baird, they can help to mitigate this impact.
Issues with leather
Samata Pattinson is the CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress Global (RCGD Global), a non-profit that promotes green red carpet design efforts. It helped Baird and Eilish choose their outfits.
Pattinson stated that, while “red carpets allow a powerful moment and conversation,” the environmental damage they do is a big issue. “There is definitely a need for a more simplified, efficient, and ecological approach to design,” she told VegansBay.
Many designers and celebrities, for example, favor leather. However, the material is harmful to the environment. Research published last year by Stand Earth and Slow Factory linked several fashion labels, including luxury names like Fendi, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, to Amazon deforestation caused by leather factories and tanneries.
Leather manufacturing is also brutal. More than one billion animals are slain for their skins each year. It’s not just cows, however. Kangaroos, sheep, goats, horses, alligators, crocodiles, and horses are just a few of the species exploited by the leather industry.
And just because an item is luxurious doesn’t mean it was made compassionately. Hermès submitted plans to expand its saltwater crocodile farms in Australia last year. If they proceed, 50,000 crocodiles will be kept in confined quarters before being slain for their skins.
Why are ethical red carpet decisions important?
However, fashion is evolving. Several premium businesses, like Oscar de la Renta, have banned the use of fur. Versace, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Burberry, Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana are among them.
Furthermore, vegan materials are becoming more widespread. In recent months, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci have all released vegan leather sneakers. Karl Lagerfield presented vegan purses made of cactus leather and organic cotton in April of last year. Ganni, a Danish fashion label, committed in October to abandon leather entirely in favor of a more sustainable and cruelty-free plant-based substitute.
Celebrities can assist to increase demand for more environmentally friendly and ethical clothing options. They have a significant impact on red carpet events in particular. Not only do millions of people tune in to watch award shows live, but photographs of who wore what afterward circulate on social media. They receive tens of thousands of likes and views.
“Red carpet culture has evolved because there is a greater emphasis on a story, a desire to provide depth and connect beyond the red carpet,” Pattinson explained.
“Red carpet moments are exhilarating and spectacular,” she added. They are, nevertheless, a highly visible manner of inspiring education and change. Red carpets allow you to demonstrate your ideas.”
It’s very essential to me that what I wear symbolizes everything I believe,’ she says.
So, by wearing ethical dresses to the Grammys and the Oscars, Baird and Eilish used their platforms for good. “It’s critical to me that what I wear reflects everything I believe,” Baird told VegansBay. “I try to dress in environmentally friendly apparel.” That is also free of cruelty to animals and human labor.”
The mother-daughter team isn’t the only ones who make more ethical red carpet selections. Since 2009, RCGD Global has worked to foster more ethical and cruelty-free ensembles at award ceremonies.
Suzy Amis Cameron, an actress, and activist formed RCGD Global during the press tour for the first Avatar (her husband James Cameron’s blockbuster). The organization raises awareness of environmental and ethical issues in the fashion industry and assists celebrities in making better decisions.
RCGD Global backed Marlee Matlin, who wore a vegan custom-made Vivienne Westwood gown last year. The garment, like Eilish’s 2022 dress, is made of Tencel (a sustainable cellulose-based fiber). Paloma Garcia Lee and Tati Gabrielle both chose sustainable designers in conjunction with RCDG Global this year.
“The wonderful platform that our Oscars campaign provides allows us to recognize brands that go above and beyond to accomplish good.” It enables us to reach a global audience in a single night – literally with a single dress or tuxedo.
“Our campaign reaches millions of people in nearly 100 countries through the red carpet,” Pattinson explains. “We’ve been advocating for this shift for over a decade, but never before has sustainability been so important.”