The bag is just the latest collaboration between McCartney — a devotee of sustainability before most fashion-world players knew what the word meant — and materials innovation company Bolt Threads.
McCartney and Bolt, which grows synthetic silk as well as synthetic leather in its bubbling tanks and humidity-and-nutrient-controlled pans, aim to spur a fashion-business makeover that’s as critical to the industry’s health as it is to the planet’s.
Why? A recent study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that the equivalent of a garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second of every day, while only 1 percent of clothing is recycled. At the same time, propelled by a burgeoning global middle class, the fast-fashion trend and wasteful habits, demand for clothing is projected to more than triple from current levels by 2050.
At that torrid pace, the fashion biz could gobble up a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050, while resource scarcity, climate change and pollution could cut the industry’s annual profits by $52 billion.
“It is increasingly clear that the current way the fashion industry operates is worn out, with signs ranging from changing customer behaviors to increased awareness of waste and pollution,” says Francois Souchet, Make Fashion Circular lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “More and more businesses are recognizing the need to change.”
Goodbye to petroleum and toxic dyes
That’s where Bolt — and the strategic partnerships it’s forging with sustainability pioneers like McCartney — come in.
Bolt is on a mission to set the notoriously pollution- and waste-producing fashion industry — which has long relied on petroleum-based synthetics, toxic dyes, chemical whiteners and fabric finishes, as well as thirsty, bug-loving crops like cotton — on a less poisonous path, while also delighting fashionistas.
“This market is hungry for innovation,” says Jamie Bainbridge, Bolt’s vice president of product development. “It really needs to change the way it makes and sells products.”