5 Brands Getting Creative with Sustainability

Words by Jody Hume | 8.5.19
Today it’s not a hot new color or a must-have bag that the fashion industry is taking note of, it’s sustainability. The fashion industry is among the world’s top polluting industries and contributes 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, an alarming statistic when you compare it to aviation’s 2%. As the rise of the conscious consumer motivates brands to incorporate sustainability into their models, we’re seeing an array of different initiatives aimed at lessening the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. At The RealReal, we’re committed to promoting a circular fashion economy, and consigning with us is one way to do it. But some brands are breaking ground with their own creative and exciting initiatives, whether it’s turning water bottles into running shoes or engineering brand-new materials. Here are the brands making change with their innovative sustainability efforts.
Nike: Grinding for the Earth

OFF-WHITE x Nike High-Top Round-Toe Sneakers; Nike Air Jordan Lunar Grind Low-Top Sneakers; Nike x Martine Rose Air Monarch IV Sneakers

You probably have no idea, but the Nike shirt sitting in your closet may once have been a plastic bottle. Following the company’s belief that “there is no innovation without sustainability,” the past 30 years have seen sustainability become a core component of their business model, with 75% of all shoes and apparel containing recycled materials. But perhaps their most notable sustainability initiative is making apparel from recycled plastic bottles that have been melted down to produce a fine, high-quality yarn. The federation kits worn by the national teams competing in both the 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup were created from at least 12 plastic bottles. Since the material innovation was launched in 2010, Nike has reportedly diverted over six billion plastic bottles from landfills, a number that will only continue to grow. Through an initiative called Nike Grind, the sportswear giant uses materials made from recycled sneakers, plastic bottles and manufacturing scraps in 71% of its footwear and apparel. Additionally, many of Nike’s collaborations with high-end brands like Off-White, Martine Rose and Comme des Garçons sell out immediately and are only available on the resale market, so by purchasing them and giving them a second life you are also supporting the circular economy. 
Burberry: Passing on Plastic

Burberry 2018 Kingly Rainbow Check Sneakers; Burberry Long Sleeve Sweatshirt; Burberry 2019 Medium Vintage Check Banner Tote

Since launching a responsibility agenda in 2017, Burberry has made huge changes in their operations and was named the leading luxury brand in the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. With an aim to be completely plastic-free by 2025, the goal is for all of the company’s packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable. Partnering up with CupCycling, Burberry has created paper packaging made from FSC-certified virgin pulp and fiber from recycled coffee cups. So far they’ve upcycled over 11 million coffee cups and counting. In addition, the British fashion brand has designed a range of compostable clothing hangers, and will be launching a program encouraging the reuse of discarded hangers. 
 Stella McCartney: Eat Wear Your Vegetables
Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney Vegan Low-Top Sneakers; Stella McCartney Embellished Mini Dress; Stella McCartney Medium Drawstring Monogram Tote

British designer Stella McCartney has been a pioneer of sustainable fashion since the inception of her eponymous label in 2001. From the use of eco-friendly, cruelty-free materials in her collections, to powering all of her UK locations with renewable energy, to the multiple sustainability campaigns she has launched over the years, the environment has always been at the forefront of her vision. And of course, we’ve partnered with Stella McCartney to create a program of sustainable initiatives, encouraging shoppers to participate in the circular economy by consigning in exchange for credit to shop at Stella McCartney. Recently, the designer has also teamed up with BOLT threads, a biotechnology company that uses green chemistry practices to engineer fibers and textiles that are better for the environment. One of the biomaterials engineered is a mushroom leather called Mylo, grown from mycelium, which McCartney incorporated into her Falabella bags. They were exhibited at the Victoria & Albert’s London exhibition, “Fashioned from Nature.”
Adidas: Ocean-Friendly Footwear

Stella McCartney for Adidas 2018 Stan Smith Low-Top Sneakers; Pharrell Williams x Adidas 2017 NMD HU TR Respira Friends & Family Sneakers; Adidas Ultra Boost 4.0 Parley Legend Sneakers

Adidas is another sportswear company committed to sustainability, teaming up with ocean conservationists Parley for The Oceans to create a footwear line that keeps the oceans clean. Every piece is made from plastic trash that has been removed from beaches before it enters the ocean. The Adidas x Parley line aims to produce eleven million sneakers made from recycled ocean plastic in 2019, more than double the amount they produced in 2018.  Featuring colors like seafoam blue, seaweed green and shades of navy, the sneakers are a nod to the environment they strive to protect. They’ve also partnered with sustainability giant Stella McCartney to produce a tennis collection made from recycled materials and dyed using a water saving process. 
Marine Serre: Recycling on The Runway 
marine serre

Marine Serre 2019 Moon-Print Sock Boots; Marine Serre 2018 Dream Ball Bag; Marine Serre Printed Long Sleeve Top

Breakout designer Marine Serre may only be 27 years old, but she’s already making waves in the fashion industry. The LVMH award winner has committed herself to sustainability, presenting a collection at Paris Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 2018 made mostly  from upcycled vintage scarves sourced from a consignment warehouse in Paris. In addition to the upcycled scarves, she also used old shirts and wetsuits to make a dramatic flamenco-inspired dress, and manipulated gymnastic balls into bags. Titled “Manic Soul Machine,” the collection called out the fast-paced production of the fashion industry and the negative consequences that follow. “In fashion we overproduce by a huge amount, but why?” she asks. “Whether I make my collection from recycled, reclaimed materials, or completely new fabrics, the design of the finished garment will be exactly the same, so why wouldn’t I opt for sustainability?” 
Another way to shop more sustainably? Extend the life cycle of luxury by shopping consignment.

Honoring heritage brands and extending the lifecycle of luxury items.