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MILAN – British designer Stella McCartney has announced the launch of a new foundation which, among other things, will seek to bridge the gap between sustainable fashion design being taught in colleges and design schools and the sustainability work of brands and retailers. Details of the Foundation were released at this week’s Textile Exchange Conference in Italy.

Talking during a panel discussion on the role of luxury brands in sustainability, Claire Bergkamp, worldwide sustainability & innovation director at Stella McCartney, said: “I have spent a lot of time with Stella in design schools and have noticed, around the world, there is not a lot of talk about sustainability. [As part of the Foundation] we want to work globally with design programmes to bridge that gap.”

Bergkamp pointed out how creative directors in brands often “set the tone” and their decisions “filter down,” hence influencing them at an early stage in terms of sustainable design values could potentially have a powerful impact. “We are genuinely trying to empower the next generation of designers with knowledge and skills around sustainability,” she added.

In a lively panel debate which also included Jocelyn Wilkinson responsibility programme director with UK luxury brand, Burberry, Bergkamp also pointed out that the foundations of Stella McCartney are vegetarianism. “That is how the company started and remains a core part of who we are,” she said, adding that in terms of pushing the sustainability agenda, “Stella herself remains our biggest enabler.”

More details on the Stella McCartney Cares Foundation – a charity also dedicated to the prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer – will be released in November.

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