Last night, Kering and London College of Fashion welcomed fashion designer and sustainability champion Stella McCartney, as guest of honour at the annual Kering Talk on Sustainable Fashion.

The event gathered over 400 guests featuring, researchers, journalists, professionals from the fashion industry, and included the likes of Kering Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault and his wife actress Salma Hayek, legendary British supermodel Twiggy and her husband, actor Leigh Lawson, as well as World and Olympic Champion track cyclist Victoria Pendleton.

In her talk with journalist Lucy Siegle, Stella addressed the issue of deforestation and sustainable sourcing of viscose, one of the most used fabrics in the world.

LCFxKering Stella McCartney

Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

Head of LCF Professor Frances Corner introduced the evening by talking about LCF and Kering’s five year partnership, which includes a competition which offers LCF students the chance to win an internship with participating brands or a cash prize, by responding to a brief and proposing a sustainable fashion project.

We need the next generation to be creative and flexible and prepared for an industry which faces significant social and environmental challenges, so through this partnership our students are learning, crucially, how to become global thinkers and how they can manage the complexities of sustainability in a rapidly changing market. – Frances Corner

After, Frances’ opening address, Kering Chief Sustainability Officer Marie-Claire Daveu took to the stage to introduce Stella’s talk. She commented that:

In our industry we are in a unique position to set trends and we are proud to have our part in educating the next generation. – Marie-Claire Daveu

Stella McCartney and Lucy Siegle discussed Stella’s viscose project that has been two years in the making. Along with this, Stella spoke of what she’s proud of and gave an insight into the development of her collections, of which, 53% of womenswear and 45% of her menswear collections are sustainable. Lucy’s opening question to Stella was whether she would ever sacrifice ‘the cool’ for  the eco-friendly, to which Stella replied, “the two go hand in hand”.

Stella commented that the fashion industry has got to start talking about sustainability, and said that a small effort is better than nothing at all:

The fashion industry can be quite old fashioned, the most modern thing we do as a house, is challenge how we make things. – Stella McCartney

She spoke about the ability to have a business and be mindful and responsible, as well as the responsibility of the consumer, who has a choice in the products they buy.

I believe very firmly that no human should suffer in fashion, and the planet shouldn’t suffer either. When you’re consuming, ask questions – look at how you’re living your life and how it affects the environment. – Stella McCartney

The talk ended with questions from the audience, who asked her who influenced her, where she cited her parents and her upbringing as a major influence, her advice to emerging brands and designers as well as the cost of creating sustainable fashion products. You can watch Stella’s full talk on the Stella McCartney Facebook page.

Lucy Siegle and Stella McCartney. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

Lucy Siegle and Stella McCartney. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

After Stella’s talk, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at LCF Professor Dilys Williams started the proceedings for the announcement of this years winners of the LCFxKering Award. She spoke about the ten finalist projects, which together reflected the importance of sustainability and social consciousness to today’s young talent. All of the applicants were from different academic disciplines and personal backgrounds, and all showed a deep commitment to fashion and the environment, along with a strong interest to more sustainable practices in business in general. She commented that:

This year’s entries are knowledge based and values led. – Professor Dilys Williams

By taking part in the 2016 Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion, students were looking to merge their passions and illustrate the economic relevance of a more sustainable fashion industry. Dilys was then joined by Béatrice Lazat, Senior vice-president of human resources at Kering and they announced the winners of this year’s awards.

Winners for Stella McCartney were: Irene-Marie Seelig (MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation) winner of the award for innovation, for her project Mushroom Skin with a prize of €10,000Icicar Bravo Tomboly (MA Fashion Design Management) won the award for collaboration for her Social Ecologies projectand Ana Pasalic (MA Fashion Futures) won the special projects award for Uncoloured Coloursboth of whom will undertake a three month internship at Stella McCartney.

Winners for Stella McCartney: Iciar, Irene and Ana. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

Winners for Stella McCartney: Iciar, Irene and Ana. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

Winners for Brioni were: Agraj Jain (BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear) winner for the award for innovation for his project Peace Silk and Elise Comrie’s (MA Fashion Futures) project Tailored Tobacco won the award for collaboration. Elise will undertake a three month internship at Brioni in Rome, whilst Agraj has won the prize of €10,000.

Winners for Brioni Agraj Jain and Elise Comrie. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

Winners for Brioni Agraj Jain and Elise Comrie. Image: © 2016 Dave Benett

The event was a great success and provoked inspiring conversations around sustainability in fashion amongst all of the attendees, as well as online. You can watch entire event on the Kering Facebook page.

Last night also marked the launch of the third year of the Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion – part of the five-year partnership between Kering and LCF. If you are a final year undergraduate or an MA student at LCF visit the Centre for Sustainable Fashion website and find out how to apply for your chance to win €10,000 and a work experience placement with the brands involved for the Kering Award 2017 – Stella McCartney and Gucci.