Fashion designer Stella McCartney is all about sustainability.

As one of Vogue’s four January cover stars, McCartney talks about how she runs a sustainable and environmentally conscious business while maintaining a work/life balance. This is part of the magazine’s issue celebrating creative forces, role models, and mothers.

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For McCartney, sustainability has been an important concept since she was a child.

“I was privileged,” she admits. “I grew up on an organic farm; I saw the seasons. My parents were vegetarians—they were change agents.”

For these reasons, McCartney is aware of the environmental impacts of fast fashion and does what she can to bring awareness to the fashion industry.

“This year alone, up to 150 million trees have been cut down just for viscose,” said McCartney, who now sources hers from sustainable forests in Sweden. “I’m trying to create something that’s still sexy and desirable and luxurious that isn’t landfill. Every single second, fast fashion is landfill.”

Photo by Annie Leibovitz
Photo by Annie Leibovitz

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While she hopes to have an impact on the practices of other brands, she understands how difficult it can be to change longstanding traditions.

“We are a kind of incubator. I have sympathy for how hard it is to shift the massive Titanic ship away from the iceberg. We’re a little agile sailboat, and we built the ship. And I think that’s easier than changing something that’s been going in one direction for so long.”

She added: “We’re trying to prove that this is a viable way to do business in our industry—and that you don’t have to sacrifice any style or any edginess or coolness in order to work this way.”

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Of course, she also has four kids to think about.

“When you’ve got a job and you’ve got kids,” she says, “it’s when you get to see them, and you have to wake up super early and engage in that moment.”

Read the full cover story here.

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