These Celebrity-Activists Are Giving Sustainable Style New Cred

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In the wake of her critically acclaimed debut album “Sour” which made its debut in May, Olivia Rodrigo’s sustainable style moments are also standing out.

Along with the usual designer suspects, Rodrigo has sported more up-and-coming sustainable designers like Marine Serre, Maggie Marilyn and Shrimps.

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When it comes to secondhand, 18-year-old Rodrigo is an advocate for vintage, thrift and peer-to-peer shopping apps like Depop, as with fellow Gen Zers who have accelerated resale’s growth.

Rodrigo’s Depop shop is a tribute to “Sour,” raising proceeds for charity from items she has used in music videos, like her diary and feathers for $35, as well as what’s stocked in her closet like a graphic “Photoplay” tie-back T-shirt for $30 or black Reformation dotted puff top for $40. Multiple items are stocked for each.

Along with Los Angeles-based sustainable stylist Laura Sophie Cox, styling duo “Dani and Emma,” which includes Dani Charlton and Emma Rubenstein, have helped style the rising pop star who, according to the duo, “made it clear from our first fitting that she loves vintage,” which is a plus for the stylists who also love mixing vintage with runway pieces.

For the duo, L.A.-based Sami Miro Vintage is a go-to for pulling vintage with an “edge and exclusivity,” as seen on Rodrigo for her spring cover story for Billboard. For Rodrigo’s “Saturday Night Live” performance in May, she also wore vintage — a pink and red Prada slipdress from New York City-based stylist and eponymous vintage dealer Gabriel Held Vintage (styled by Dean DiCriscio).

Rodrigo told journalist and filmmaker Sophia Li that her passion for sustainable fashion rose from witnessing the despairing realities of global garment workers expressed in the documentary “True Cost,” during an Instagram “Creators” chat last week.

Amanda Gorman came to represent a new kind of style icon when she recited her poetry — a ray of sunshine in her well-loved yellow Prada coat — at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration in January.

From a young age, the 23-year-old Inaugural poet and first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate has imbued social and environmental activism into her work. A proud outfit repeater (which human rights nonprofit Remake has praised her for), Gorman has donned her yellow Prada coat many times before and her relationship with the brand goes back to the luxury label’s sustainability conference in 2019.

“Amanda Gorman’s vision and quest for a more sustainable future are an immense source of inspiration for the Prada Group,” the brand told WWD. “Prada has long admired the profound talent of Amanda Gorman. We were honored to dress her as she made history as the youngest inaugural poet and a messenger of hope. We are thrilled that the world has had the opportunity to experience Amanda’s brilliance.”

And she is already influencing fashion. In the wake of her spotlight at the Inauguration, searches for “yellow coats” surged 1,328 percent overnight, according to global fashion search platform Lyst. The red satin puff headband that accessorized Gorman’s look, also Prada, sold out immediately. Her Instagram following also exploded, growing from 50,000 to millions in a matter of 48 hours (and now sits at 3.8 million).

She was the first poet to grace the cover of Vogue this past spring, in a design by Virgil Abloh nevertheless, while her book “The Hill We Climb” (the poem read at the Inauguration) topped the New York Times hardcover bestsellers. In May, she was announced as a cohost of the Met Gala alongside other young change-makers like “Call Me by Your Name” actor Timothée Chalamet, singer Billie Eilish and tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Britain’s first lady Carrie Symonds has been using her platform to promote sustainable clothing, and shopping habits like renting.

Symonds made waves among the sustainable fashion community marrying Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month in a rented wedding dress from U.K.-based rental platform My Wardrobe HQ.

The tulle and silk dress was by Greek designer Christos Costarellos and costs 2,870 pounds to buy and 45 pounds a day to rent, according to the site. Perhaps in a nod to her unconventional sustainability leadership, Symonds opted for a flower crown instead of a veil.

An activist and conservationist, Symonds comes from a media family — with her father having cofounded British online newspaper The Independent — and has carved a career pathway in public relations. She also counts a senior advisory role to the ocean conservation charity Oceana in her résumé.

Throughout the G7 summit, which ran from June 11 to 13, Symonds made pulls from rental platforms like My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr Collective. Greeting the presidents of South Africa and Korea on day two of the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, she wore a rented blue suit by Amanda Wakeley from My Wardrobe HQ. The previous night at the G7 kick-off dinner at The Eden Project, Symonds sported a yellow Gucci bag and Prada shoes — also from My Wardrobe HQ. Her dress was by The Vampire’s Wife and was said to be a rental from Hurr Collective.

Actor and singer Jaden Smith is gaining traction as an entrepreneur and sustainable fashion advocate.

A serial entrepreneur, Smith cofounded fashion line Msftsrep in 2015. Recently, the Just Water cofounder teamed with material sciences company Pangaia for a capsule collection that included adult T-shirts made from seaweed fiber and cotton hoodies, track pants and shorts, as well as goods for teens and kids.

On the collaboration, Smith said “the relationship developed through shared values and a similar mission around sustainability and ‘doing better’ in each of our respective spaces which closely intersect around responsible water-use and climate.” He called the capsule a “natural progression to give more for our supporters and do it in the most responsible way.”

Smith previously launched a sustainable denim collaboration with G-Star Raw and recently partnered with footwear brand New Balance helping to reinvent The Vision Racer shoe with 100 percent “environmentally preferred materials.”

“Community and protecting the environment are really at the center of everything we do with the Vision Racer, especially with our reworked pair,” Smith said at the Fairchild Media Group sustainability summit in April. “Every time we drop something new, I feel this reenergizing vibe of the environmental conversation. I’m so happy that we’re able to push the entire industry in this way and that you guys are including me on this. Thank you so much, I’m so excited with what we’re going to do in the future.”

One could say Yara Shahidi is an activist by blood — with her paternal grandfather having been a member of the Black Panthers in its prime. The 21-year-old advocate and “Grownish” star has been a vocal supporter of climate justice and women’s leadership in the math and sciences, among other causes.

Whenever she has a free moment, Shahidi is working on her digital mentorship program Yara’s Club, gracing a sustainability panel or drumming up advocacy ideas with the United Nations.

As a repeat supporter of the U.N. Global Goals — the 17 SDGs that fashion brands use to shape their sustainability strategies — she was among Pharrell Williams, Emma Watson, Cody Simpson and thousands of other celebrities backing a call to action to world leaders to act on the state of “emergency” necessitated by climate change.

As for how her wardrobe represents her values, Shahidi opts for glamour and sustainable, affordable looks, making a recent appearance in her very own ReCreate x Yara collection for Adidas which employs 60 percent recycled polyester.

Dressed by celebrity stylist Jason Bolden for red carpet moments, when off-duty Shahidi can be seen sporting sustainable labels like Budapest-based Nanushka, wearing an oversized blush-pink button-down, matching trousers, and a snug bomber coat jetting about New York City pre-pandemic.

It’s safe to say an early thumbs-up from Prada — a luxury brand with an eye for early sustainability advocates — is a sign of more good to come.

When British-American supermodel Arizona Muse was 22 years old, she was plucked by the brand to open and close its Milan show.

Fast-forward a decade and she’s one at the forefront of a not-so-niche model-activist stance for sustainability, which also counts pathfinders like Amber Valletta and Cameron Russell, to name a few. In December, she was named Aveda’s first global advocate for sustainability and her momentum hasn’t ceased.

Just last week, she joined a campaign called the “Fashion Avengers” by nonprofit Project Everyone to drum up excitement for the U.N. SDGs. She’s also an advocate for PayUp Fashion (a campaign to get brands to pay suppliers for canceled or delayed orders) by human rights nonprofit Remake and is on the advisory board for Sustainable Angle, a London-based organization that sources sustainable fabrics.

A self-proclaimed outfit repeater, some of Muse’s repeat wears include an upcycled silk “Giraffe” blouse by Italian luxury label Vernisse that specializes in upcycled and antique fabric designs, according to an interview earlier this year with Vanity Fair.

Muse shifted to a sustainable lifestyle as recently as five years ago, making lifestyle changes on food and drink (partnering with coffee B Corp Illy), beauty, clothing, furniture — sharing her advice to consumers looking to make sustainable changes and raising two kids in the meantime.

An award-winning multihyphenate (with his hand in skin care as of late with the launch of Humanrace in November), Pharrell Williams is also a sustainability advocate.

Among his roles, Williams is creative director and partner at Bionic Yarn, a material engineering company that has been tapped by Adidas, Chanel, Timberland, H&M Group, and Parley for the Oceans for its unique material developed from recovered plastic.

In December, the company collaborated with W.L. Gore & Associates (maker of Gore-Tex technical fabric) to begin beach plastic cleanup efforts in a coastal community in Costa Rica, in order to source and reclaim plastic for its material development and eventually scale end-of-life garment recycling.

Williams’ nonprofit “Black Ambition” is also championing sustainability by working to close the wealth gap by supporting entrepreneurs of color.

Billie Eilish is many things, having recently ventured out of her signature baggy clothing and into a realm of Old Hollywood glamour, but one thing she is not is complacent.

Eilish is a vocal environmentalist, using her platform of 86.9 million, on Instagram alone, to speak out on the degradation of the planet. In January 2020, Eilish dropped a “more sustainable” merch collection with H&M that featured boxy T-shirts, sweatshirt dresses, joggers, dresses and accessories like bucket hats and socks in a palette of pale and neon greens.

Similar to touring artists like Coldplay, which has made headlines for canceling global tours because of the climate impact, and The 1975, a band known for repurposing old merch to cut down on waste. Eilish is striving to make her tour as “green as possible.”

With an album “Happier Than Ever” anticipated for July 30, Eilish’s world tour that kicks off in September will embrace eco-elements like an “eco-village” to educate fans and the elimination of plastic straws and bottles at venues.

Two years ago, she took to the streets to march alongside climate activist Greta Thunberg and a thousand other young people in downtown Los Angeles. Eilish spent most of her life as a vegetarian before deciding to become vegan in 2014.

Launch Gallery: Celebrity-Activists Who Are Also Rising Sustainable Style Stars

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