Thrust into stardom at nine, Emma Watson is best known for her role as ‘Hermione Granger’ in the Harry Potter series.
However, very few fans know that Emma has been championing a better world since the beginning of her career.
Emma is campaigning for gender equality, animal welfare, environmental issues, and sustainable fashion.
This article will introduce you to the most important events that define Emma Watson’s sustainable fashion journey.
How It All Began
Emma’s interest in ethical fashion began when she learned about the fashion industry’s carbon impact.
Thanks to platforms like Fashion Revolution, she learned about ethical issues in the fashion industry, such as child labor and animal exploitation.
At that point, Emma decided to use her platform to voice these concerns.
The British star knew that to succeed, the change for the better would have to start with her.
“I’d walk down the red carpet and go into the bathroom. I had on so much makeup and these big, fluffy, full-on dresses. I’d put my hands on the sink and look at myself in the mirror and say: Who is this? I didn’t connect with the person who was looking back at me, and that was a very unsettling feeling”
said Emma Watson.
People Tree Collection – 2009 to 2011
Emma’s shift toward sustainable fashion began in 2009 at 19.
In one of her first support initiatives, Emma Watson modeled for a sustainable fashion collection launched by People Tree.
She acted as a creative advisor on the line and worked closely with the label’s founder and CEO, Safia Minney.
“I wanted to help People Tree produce a younger range because I was excited by the idea of using fashion as a tool to alleviate poverty and It’s been the most incredible gap year project“
said Emma Watson.
“Young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian issues surrounding fast fashion, and want to make good choices but there aren’t many options out there“
added the British celebrity.
Since then, Emma Watson has left an indelible mark in fashion.
‘White Shirt Project’ – 2014
For some time now, the fashion industry has been facing serious allegations regarding the treatment of factory workers in developing countries.
Brands have been using child labor, forcing underaged workers to toil in inhuman conditions.
These working conditions are cataloged as forms of modern-day slavery.
As a way of protest, back in 2014, Emma Watson became an active participant in the ‘White Shirt Project’ campaign.
The campaign was organized by ‘Freedom For All’ to fight against slavery and human trafficking across the world.
‘HeForShe’ Campaign – 2014
Another sizeable impact made by Emma Watson – as an outspoken feminist, activist, and agent of change – was achieved through her ‘HeForShe’ campaign at the United Nations in 2014.
See Emma Watson’s ‘HeforShe’ speech here.
‘Green Carpet’ Challenge – 2015
Emma Watson is also the ‘UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace’ and has actively participated in the ‘Green Carpet Challenge’ since 2015.
The challenge was launched in 2010 by Livia Firth, an Italian film producer, Eco-Age founder, and an ardent advocate for ethical fashion.
In this event, participating celebrities must wear clothing from ethical and sustainable fashion labels.
“In our search for ethically sourced fabrics, we have found the Green Carpet Challenge very inspiring”
said the singer and British fashion designer Victoria Beckham.
The challenge is constructed to give – very well-deserved – media coverage and visibility to innovative and sustainable fashion designers worldwide.
When asked what inspired her to embark on the sustainable fashion journey, she cited Livia Firth’s performance in the fashion movie ‘The True Cost.’
The True Cost” is a critical fashion documentary highlighting the social and environmental impact of fast fashion and consumerist shopping habits.
Emma Watson at the MET Gala – 2016
One of the most media-covered activities relating to Emma’s campaigns was her Met Gala 2016 attendance.
The star was seen wearing a Calvin Klein gown made solely from recycled plastic bottles at the event.
“With the help of Eco Age this five-piece look is created from three fabrics woven from yarns all made from recycled plastic bottles”
wrote Sarah Slutsky, Emma’s stylist, on Instagram.
“Plastic is the biggest pollutant of freshwater on the planet, being able to turn this waste into a high-quality material is a real success story“
added Sarah Slutsky.
The MET Gala is a fashion-themed event that occurs manually in New York, organized by the NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
The event aims to raise funds for the museum, and other causes worth fighting for.
The following year, at the launch of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Emma Watson wore an elegant gown fashioned out of end-of-line discarded fabric designed by Emilia Wickstead.
Emilia Wickstead is another London-based fashion designer known for her ethical and sustainable creations, feminine silhouettes, and use of vivid colors.
Also, during the Beauty and the Beast promotional tour, Emma Watson wore a pair of trainers made by the sustainable French shoe brand ‘Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather’.
‘Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather’ is a popular brand that creates vegan shoes in a fair trade environment, using only eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
As expected, Emma’s choice was another subtle protest against animal cruelty in fashion.
Emma Watson’s Instagram – 2017
In 2017, Emma Watson opened a new Instagram account dedicated to sustainable fashion labels called @the_press_tour.
The account’s specific purpose is to showcase her outfits and share her ethical wardrobe with the world.
Moreover, each piece of clothing is selected from her favorite sustainable brands, such as Filippa K. Filippa, a Swedish brand committed to sustainable production and using upcycled clothing in its collections.
Thanks to her new Instagram page, Emma has granted further visibility to ethical brands and designers worldwide.
Some worth mentioning here are Stella McCartney, Simon Miller, Ronald van der Kemp, Lilian von Trapp, Vrai & Oro, and Gabriela Hearst.
These designers use innovative, sustainable, quality materials such as regenerated cashmere, organic silk, recycled fabrics, organic cotton, and forest-friendly fabrics.
According to a Vogue interview with Emma Watson, finding the pre-market journey of the fashion garments she chooses is critical.
“I am often asked not what I am wearing but who because in fashion, the idea behind the clothes – the label, the designer, the collection – have more meaning than the garment itself”
said Emma Watson.
“However, there’s a bigger story to be told about the conditions in which our clothes are made. It’s also about the resources used and the impact it has on communities”
concluded the British celebrity.
Good On You – 2019
Emma Watson partnered with Good On You to discover the [often] hidden pre-market stories of fashion garments.
According to Good On You, among all participating celebrities, Emma Watson is the organization’s “Number One Supporter”.
“I support Good On You because I need to know my clothes do not harm our precious planet or its people”
Good On You has a free smartphone app that allows consumers to evaluate brands and make informed decisions.
The ranking is based on the brands’ ethical standards and sustainability credentials.
Apart from the search function, another handy feature is that the app filters brands with a similar ethical rating of ‘Great.’
The app’s filtering system makes it more convenient for conscious consumers to search for sustainable brands.
The ‘Good On You’ app is an effective tool for reducing individual fashion footprints.
It helps informed shoppers to make better fashion choices and build their ethical wardrobes, especially in the face of rampant greenwashing in fashion.
Speaking to British Vogue, Sandra Capponi, one of the founders of Good On You, explained that the ‘fashion evaluation app’ has profiled over 2500 labels to date.
“We want to see a world where it is no longer acceptable for brands to generate mountains of garment waste. No more air and water pollution, unsafe factories and starvation wages, or the mistreatment animals”
said Sandra Capponi.
Nevertheless, it is important to know that even with 2.5k brand catalogs, the app holds only a small fraction of the sustainable clothing designers operating globally.
However, there’s hope that the number of brands will increase with the help of supporters such as Emma Watson, who demands to have a look behind the curtains at fashion production before purchase.
Kering Group – 2020 to 2022
Maybe 2020 was the most defining year of Emma Watson’s commitment to sustainable fashion.
Besides launching ‘Fashion Footprint Calculator’ with secondhand clothes site ThredUp, she joined Kering’s board of directors, the fashion house behind luxury brands such as Gucci and Saint Laurent.
With a track record of over 10 years of campaigning for a fashion landscape, it was no surprise.
Over the last 12 months, Emma Watson has donated $5 million to gender equality and women’s rights causes.
All these positive actions added up, placing Emma Watson as the uncrowned leader of sustainable fashion.
That’s why it was no surprise when the Kering Group decided to bring Emma on board.
Emma joined Kering’s group of directors together with two key players:
- Jean Liu Qing is a businesswoman and the president of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform.
- Tidjane Thiam – former CEO of Credit Suisse bank.
“I am delighted to welcome Jean Liu, Tidjane Thiam, and Emma Watson to our board of directors“
said Kering’s CEO, François-Henri Pinault.
Kering is the parent company behind several luxury houses, such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen.
As a group, Kering employs more than 38,000 people, and in 2019, the company generated almost €16 billion in revenue.
Currently, Kering is the leading player in the global luxury goods market.
Moreover, given the global change towards ethical manufacturing and consumption, sustainable fashion has become a key area of focus for the Kering Group.
The move follows the Group’s promise in 2017 that it will reduce its environmental footprint by 40 percent by 2025.
By bringing Emma Watson on board, Kering underlines, once again, the corporation’s vision of creating a sustainable future for the fashion industry.
What’s next for Emma Watson and her campaigns for sustainable fashion remains to be seen.
Yet, we hope you’ll use this article as a source of motivation.
Whenever you need inspiration, think of the little and insecure Hermione from the Harry Potter movies.
Look at her now, the global force for good she has become, and know you can be too!
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Championing sustainability and veganism from Sao Paulo to London, Ana Alves is a dynamic force in the fashion and beauty industry. With a decade-long writing career, Ana's compelling narratives on sustainable fashion have graced the pages of Forbes, Wired, Vanity Fair, and more. Ana's journey spans key roles at Unilever and Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, where she honed her marketing acumen. As an Editorial Contributor at WTVOX and Fashion & Style Editor at The VOU, Ana shapes the discourse on sustainable fashion.