Thrust into stardom at the age of nine, Emma Watson is best known for her role as ‘Hermione Granger’ in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies.
However, not many know that, since the beginning of her career, Emma has been championing for a better world.
Emma is campaigning for gender equality, animal welfare, environmental issues, and sustainable fashion.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the most important events that define Emma Watson’s sustainable fashion journey.
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How It All Began
According to Emma, her 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 labour and animal exploitation.
At that point, Emma decided to use her platform to voice these concerns.
The British star knew that in order to succeed, the change for 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 – 2009-2011
Emma’s shift towards sustainable fashion began in 2009, at the age of 19.
In one of her first initiatives of support, Emma Watson modelled for a sustainable fashion collection launched by ‘People Tree’.
She acted as 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 knew it was something I could help make a difference with,” said Emma Watson.
“It has been the most incredible gap year project, I think 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,” she added.
Ever since, Emma Watson has left an indelible mark in the world of fashion.
‘White Shirt Project’ – 2014
The fashion industry has been facing, for some time now, serious allegations regarding the treatment of factory workers in developing countries.
Brands have been using child labour, forcing underaged workers to toil in inhuman conditions.
These working conditions are catalogued 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 organised by ‘Freedom For All’ with the aim of fighting 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 an active participant in the ‘Green Carpet Challenge‘ since 2015.
The challenge was launched in 2010 by Livia Firth, an Italian film producer, the founder of Eco Age, and an ardent advocate for ethical fashion.
In this event, participating celebrities are required to wear and item of 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 – the very well-deserved – media coverage and visibility, to innovative and sustainable fashion designers from all over the world.
When asked what has inspired her to embark on the journey of sustainable fashion, she cited Livia Firth’s performance in the movie ‘The True Cost’.
The True Cost” is a critical documentary aiming to highlight the social and environmental impact of fast fashion and consumerists shopping habits.
Emma Watson At MET Gala – 2016
One of the most media-covered activities relating to Emma’s campaigns was her Met Gala 2016 attendance.
At the event, the star was seen wearing a Calvin Klein gown, made solely from recycled plastic bottles.
“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 personal 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,” she added.
The MET Gala is a fashion-themed event that takes place manually in New York, organised by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York.
The purpose of the event is 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 colours.
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, only from eco-friendly and sustainable materials.
As expected, Emma’s choice was another subtle form of protest to animal cruelty in fashion.
Emma Watson on Instagram – 2017
A year later, in 2017, Emma Watson opened a new Instagram account, dedicated to sustainable fashion labels and called @the_press_tour.
The account’s specific purpose is to showcase the outfits she wears and share her ethical wardrobe with the world.
Moreover, each piece of clothing is selected from her favourite sustainable brands such as Filippa K.Filippa k is a Swedish brand that is committed to sustainable production and uses recycled materials in its collections.
Thanks to her new Instagram page, Emma has been able to grant further visibility to ethical brands and designers from all over the world.
Some worth mentioning here are Stella McCartney, Simon Miller, Ronald van der Kemp, Lilian von Trapp, Vrai & Oro, and Gabriela Hearst.
These designers are using innovative, sustainable and quality materials such as regenerated cashmere, organic silk, recycled fabrics, organic cotton and forest-friendly fabrics.
According to a Vogue interview, to Emma Watson finding out the pre-market journey of the fashion garments she chooses to wear 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”, concludes the British celebrity.
Good On You App – 2019
In her desire to discover the [often] hidden pre-market stories of fashion garments, Emma Watson has partnered with Good On You.
According to Good On You, from all participating celebrities, Emma Watson is the organisation’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,” said Emma.
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, one other 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 in reducing individual fashion footprint.
It helps informed shoppers to make better fashion choices and build their own ethical wardrobe, especially in the face of rampant greenwashing in fashion.
Speaking to British Vogue, Sandra Capponi, one of the founders of Good On You, says 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 brands catalogues, the app holds only a small fraction of the sustainable fashion designers operating globally.
However, there’s hope that with the help of supporters such as Emma Watson, who demand to have a look behind the curtains at fashion production before purchase, the number of brands will increase.
Emma Watson Joins Kering Group – 2020
Maybe 2020 was the most defining year of Emma Watson commitment to sustainable fashion.
Beside 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 came at no surprise.
Over the last 12 months, Emma Watson has donated $5 million to gender equality and women rights’ causes.
All these positive actions added up, placing Emma Watson as the uncrowned leader for 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 another two key players:
- Jean Liu or Liu Qing, – businesswoman President of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform.
- Tidjane Thiam – the former CEO of Credit Suisse, left the bank in February after becoming embroiled in a spying scandal.
“I am delighted to welcome Jean Liu, Tidjane Thiam and Emma Watson to our board of directors,” said Kering’s CEO, François-Henri Pinault, in a statement.
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 has generated almost €16 billion in revenue.
Right now, Kering is the leading player in the global market of luxury goods.
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 will reduce its environmental footprint by 40 per cent, by 2025.
By bringing Emma Watson on board, Kering underlines, once again, the corporate’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!
We’d love to hear from you…
Name a celebrity that has done similar work for a better fashion industry.
What are you doing to support sustainable fashion designers?
What is your favourite sustainable fashion designer right now?
Finally, what do you think Emma Watson should campaign for next?
WTVOX – ‘Voicing the Future of Fashion’
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