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Stella McCartney: at the forefront of sustainable innovation

From Vegan Leather to Mylo: when sustainability shapes a brand’s strategy 

 

Key takeaways

  • A smaller number of new arrivals and overall assortment, allows Stella McCartney to diversify its offer and stays consistent with the brand’s sustainability values. 

  • 56% of Stella McCartney’s ready-to-wear assortment pertains to it sustainable collection. 

  • All of Stella McCartney’s footwear and leather goods are made up of non-leather alternatives, with Alter Mat being the most prominent fabric in its leather goods assortment. 

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Pioneering the Mylo bag 

Stella McCartney is a prime example of what it means to be an ethically minded brand. Since the beginning, the company has been committed to ethical values and has always been strongly vocative of the company’s impact on the environment. The brand is continuously trying to find innovative ways to become more sustainable. 

Further cementing its sustainability values, Stella McCartney has been working with mycelium startup Bolt Threads since 2017. In July 2022, the brand launched its Frayme Mylo Bag, made of a mushroom-based leather alternative. Stella McCartney was the first brand to make the mycelium bag commercially viable and aims to integrate Mylo in its main assortment of bags as of 2023. 

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With access to Retviews’ data, merchandising teams can quickly access detailed product features, in order to have a 360° look into their competitors’ assortment. As shown by Retviews’ data, Stella McCartney’s Mylo bag was launched in black, with a recyclable aluminum chain and mycelium fabric. On top of that, Retviews’ data on international pricing show that the bag retails for $3.500 in the US, its highest price when compared to leading EU and UK markets, where the bag is 38% and 36% less expensive, respectively. The current state of the US dollar, and Stella McCartney being a UK brand, contribute to the bag’s current international pricing structure. 

 

Breaking away from the pack 

Stella McCartney is an accessible luxury brand whose price positioning lies below Chloe and Givenchy but above Michael Kors and Coach. How does it differentiate itself from its competitors in terms of assortment? 

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As shown by Retviews’ data, leather goods are one of the most prominent categories for accessible luxury brands. Unlike other accessible luxury brands however, Stella McCartney maintains a bigger focus on ready-to-wear. The brand’s leather goods make up 20% of its total assortment, whereas the market average stands at 35%.  

Stella McCartney has also entered into unisex apparel, with its Fantasia capsule collection in collaboration with Disney. Delving deeper into Retviews’ data shows that the two leading categories in the unisex collection are tops, making up 34% of the assortment and leather goods, making up 18% of the assortment.  

 

Minimal Assortment 

In comparison with other popular accessible luxury brands, Stella McCartney has the smallest assortment with only 1126 items in its collection. Could their strategy of maintaining a small collection be one of their sustainability initiatives? 

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This is confirmed when looking at leading accessible luxury brands’ new arrivals. Stella McCartney has the smallest number of new items added each month, compared to competitors. The brand is thus able to easily diversify its collection throughout the year and draw customers’ attention, whilst minimizing unsold inventory thanks to a smaller assortment size and smaller rate of monthly new ins. This factor further contributes to Stella McCartney’s long-standing focus on sustainability and positive ecological impact.  

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B Corp or not? 

Brands acquire the B Corp Certification when they meet rigorous requirements of validated performance, accountability, and transparency in areas ranging from employee perks and charity contributions to supply chain processes and input materials. Thanks to its sustainable and ethical efforts Ganni is B Corp Certified with a grade of 90.6 since September 2022. Chloe acquired the certification in October 2021, with a score of 85.2, being the first luxury brand to obtain it.  

Considering Stella McCartney’s strong ethical values and commitments, the brand is not only conscious about its impact on the environment but is also continuously looking for new sustainable technology. Should the brand be B Corp certified as well? How do the three brands’ sustainable collections differ?  

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Retviews’ data show that Ganni has the most prominent sustainable collection, when compared to Chloe and Stella McCartney, making up 82% of its ready-to-wear assortment. Stella McCartney and Chloe on the other hand, have very similar assortments regarding sustainability. The initiatives that are considered in classifying collections as sustainable are the presence of recycled materials, organic cotton and programs dedicated to sustainable production.  

 

Sustainable production and fabrics at the core of Stella McCartney business model  


Stella McCartney has positioned itself in the fashion industry as a leader in sustainability, collaborating with other brands and including them in sustainability pursuits. A perfect example of this, is the latest launch of its partnership with Adidas, within which the pieces are made from post-industrial and post-consumer waste like plastic bottles. 

Moreover, Stella McCartney has put numerous sustainability-related initiatives into place, continuously striving to improve its environmental impact, from its regenerative project to its collaboration with Green Peace.  

Thanks to Retviews’ real-time data, analyzing the assortment share of items pertaining to Stella McCartney’s sustainable initiatives is simple and can be done in a matter of several clicks.  

 

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As shown by Retviews’ data, 19% of Stella McCartney’s assortment is made from forest-friendly fabric, reflecting Stella McCartney’s commitment to only source viscose from sustainably managed forests. In addition to that, 13% of Stella McCartney’s apparel is made from recycled materials and 6% is made from responsible wool. Having pledged to use non-leather materials in accordance with their cruelty-free values, the brand’s assortment only carries faux fur. The brand is taking this initiative one step further and developing plant-based fur alternatives with  DuPont Biomaterials.  

 

Luxury leather goods can be cruelty free 

As previously mentioned, leather goods are a strategic category for accessible luxury brands, making up a significant portion of their assortment and being one of the biggest categories driving sales.  

Stella McCartney has abstained from using leather, feathers, or fur, creating the first sustainable it-bag, the Falabella bag. Stella McCartney’s success lies in its ability to use leather alternatives that look and feel luxurious.  

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Delving deeper into Retviews’ data on accessible luxury brands’ leather goods, Stella McCartney’s most prominent leather-alternative appears to be Alter Mat, of which its famous Frayme and S-Wave bags are made.  

Looking at Danish cool-girl brand, Ganni’s leather goods assortment, 64% is made of recycled leather and 36% is made of authentic, virgin leather. Although Ganni stopped using virgin leather in its ready-to-wear collection, it is still looking for a viable replacement for footwear and accessories, whilst ensuring the quality and durability clients are accustomed to.  

Ganni has been developing new, sustainable, leather-alternative materials such as VEGEA™ and CIRCULOSE® by RENEWCELL, however they are mainly found in footwear. As the Danish brand is aiming to phase out virgin leather in leather goods and accessories by 2023, it has followed Stella McCartney’s path in partnering with Bold Threads and creating products made from mycelium. Currently, Ganni has launched a limited edition of Mylo items available in its flagship location, as it plans to release a larger number in Q1 2023.  

On the other hand, Retviews’ data show that 57% of Chloe’s leather goods assortment is certified by the “Leather Working Group” (LWG), which the brand joined in 2017.  

 

How do your brand's sustainability initiatives compare to competitors’? 

Thanks to Retviews’ real-time data, your brand can gain in-depth insights into the market and your competitors’ sustainability efforts, in order to identify gaps in your own sustainable collection and act quickly to gain a competitive advantage. 

Retviews enables your brand to stay on top of the sustainability curve, with all the market data you need, at your fingertips. Get an inside look, optimize your own sustainable strategy, and watch your overall performance skyrocket. Discover today’s hottest brands’ secret to success and revolutionize your own retail performance.  

Use the Retviews platform to benchmark your offer against your competitors