Is Emma Watson's "Sustainable" Press Tour Just Green-Washing?

Leeann Duggan
·Senior Editor

Having recently seen The True Cost, a documentary about the human and environmental impact of clothing production, Emma Watson took to Instagram to proclaim her committment to The Green Carpet Challenge, which encourages celebs to make sustainable fashion choices on the red carpet.

Watson began her press tour for her forthcoming film Regression yesterday in Madrid, and her stylist Sarah Slutsky is highlighting the ethical fashion cred of Watson's designer wares on Instagram. While we don't want to knock anyone who genuinely seems to want to make a difference, we do have to call into question how sustainable an international press tour can be, with people and wardrobe being flown all over the world. And while some of the designers Slutsky mentions seem genuinely committed to ethical fashion via the use of sustainable or ethically-sourced materials, her explanation of others are vague at best — like the jewelry designer who " believes that responsible behavior and luxury are inseparably linked." Well, okay then.

Slutsky also mentions a designer who produces clothes "in New York and Italy" — but it's not clear how that makes it an ethical choice. Other designers are praised for not using fur, but they do use leather and other animal products. Other phrases seem pulled straight from a press release, like when Slutsky mentions Cartier's commitment to "responsible and sustainable business principles and practices in both the supply chain and their own business." Huh? This is the kind of vague corporate speak that seems intentionally designed to sound green, while carefully avoiding making any concrete promises.

It could be that these designers have a deeper commitment to ethics and sustainability than is being communicated. But as it's been presented so far, it's hard to see exactly how the "green carpet" is truly green. That said, the looks are undeniably lovely, and Watson and Slutsky are to be praised for bringing attention to the issue of sustainability in fashion. Maybe, in the end, there just aren't that many truly ethical brands to choose from in fashion. Maybe, in time, campaigns like this will change that.

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