Ready for In-Person Meetings? Dress for Success with Sustainable Fashion

Global warming has scientists searching the galaxy to determine where life can exist next. Can fashion be the force bringing positive change to this planet?

Alexandria Ocasio Cortex (AOC) came out swinging when Jeff Bezos took his recent “joyride” into space. AOC, together with many others, ripped the recent space mission as being done on the backs of monetary gains from unfair labor conditions at Amazon. That’s all good and fine, but what’s more interesting is that AOC did not use this opportunity to address one of her core talking points. She didn’t call out the impact this sort of “joyride” travel has on climate change. [1] It seems that the topic of climate change is not as in vogue in the political circles right now, and it is up to the private sector to step in. The fashion world, an area for which AOC had previously raised awareness, is paying close attention to how to create sustainable fashion to reduce the fashion footprint on the environment. [2] This is a particularly relevant topic as many of us start to rebuild our wardrobes for in person meeting with clients and colleagues.

2021 G7 leaders meet at St. James Palace to discuss sustainable market initiatives. Stella McCartney is in the center wearing blue.

Stella McCartney, CEO of Stella McCartney Fashion House, has spearheaded an effort to bring sustainable fashion to the high-end shopper. McCartney was recently invited to Saint James’ Palace to discuss the damage being done to the planet by fast fashion, [3] as well as how to create sustainable fashion. She met with several leading members of the 2021 G7 summit, including John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. This conversation was a part of Prince Charles’ Sustainable Markets Initiative, which brings together 300 CEOs focused on making their industries more sustainable. [4]

Fast fashion is a fascinating area. On one hand, fast fashion creates an affordable way for lower budget fashionistas to stay on trend. Many people want to have the looks that walk down the Stella McCartney runway but cannot afford the luxury brand price point. Fast fashion brands turn out similar looks immediately at a fraction of the cost. This reduced price is achieved by using cheap materials and very low labor costs.

Also Read: A Complete Guide to Creating the Perfect Meeting Agenda

Fast fashion is fast to destroy the planet

How often are people turning to fast fashion to supply their wardrobes? When we combine data from different Barnardos reports, we know that in Britian, 37% of young people aged 16-24 say that they would be embarrassed to wear a special occasion outfit more than once, [5] and over 33% of women consider clothing old after one or two wears. [6] Consumers are buying 60% more clothing than they had been 15 years ago and keeping that clothing for half as long. [7] This need to constantly refresh a wardrobe is fed by the availability of fast fashion production.

The downside is that fast fashion is incredibly damaging to the environment. According to The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee:

Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution

Environmental Audit Committee

An MIT study [8] reported that, “compared to the emissions of a cotton t-shirt, the polyester emissions are, on average higher”. Roughly 60% of garments use polyester. [9] From that same MIT study we come to know that the environmental impact of cotton used for apparel each year is equivalent to 250 billion miles driven by the average car. With high quality cotton being so impactful on the environment and polyester generally being more damaging than cotton, our fashion is wreaking havoc on the environment.

McCartney points out is that we need a way to drive down the price of sustainable materials. If the price point goes down, garments created sustainably can be available at the average consumer price point. In the meantime, the conflict of bringing sustainable fashion together with fast fashion is apparent in McKinsey’s opening paragraph to their State of Fashion 2019 report, “…players now need to be nimble, think digital-first and achieve ever-faster speed to market. They need to take an active stance on social issues, satisfy consumer demands for ultra-transparency and sustainability…”. [10] Being “ever-faster in speed to market” and sustainable is a combination that’s still out of reach.

Also Read: Series: Powerful Meeting Lessons from Leaders [How Begin/Brzezinski Found Common Ground]

As we restock our wardrobes before returning to in person meetings, what can we do to be more environmentally aware?

  1. Know more about the brands you’re supporting. Websites like the [11] call out the leading offensive brands.
  2. For something to be sustainable, it should be able to withstand several wears. When you’re looking out for the next outfit that presents your style to the world, consider quality being part of how you define yourself.
  3. Dress like a professionally styled celebrity by renting one-time wears from companies like rent-the-runway. [12] Using a service like this allows a single garment to get “one time wears”, many times over.
  4. Look to websites like ebay [13] or tradesy [14] for second time wears on great quality clothing. On both sites, sellers rate the quality of the garments they’re listing.

Also Read: The Importance of Meditating Before, During and After Meetings

Final thought: Some of the most important meetings that happened this year were at the G7 summit. Many articles were published about the important topics tackled in these meetings, where world leaders came together. It seemed like an equal amount of ink was used to describe the outfits worn by many of the leaders and their spouses. Cary Symonds, the wife of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, showed up to these much-photographed meetings wearing a rented designer wardrobe. [15] This high-profile move by Cary Symonds may be just the inspiration needed for other fashionistas to continue their one-time wear of outfits. If an icon at one of the most photographed events can find such fashionable clothing to rent, think of how much fun your wardrobe can be if you sprinkle in this affordable way of taking a one-time-wear, stylish step forward, sustainably!


  1. How bad is space tourism for the environment? And other space travel questions, answered – Vox
  2. How to dress for Capitol Hill: AOC’s guide to sustainable fashion – Geo News
  3. Fast fashion – Wikipedia
  4. Stella McCartney: Fast fashion is hugely damaging to the plant – CNN
  5. A new survey commissioned by Barnardo’s reveals people in Britain will potentially spend £2.7 Billion on fashion this summer which will only be worn once – Barnardo’s
  6. The State of Fashion 2019 – McKinsey
  7. Barnardo’s Press Release – Barnardo’s
  8. Sustainable Apparel Materials – Matter of Trust
  9. Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability –
  10. The State of Fashion 2019 – McKinsey
  11. The alternative consumer organization – Ethical Consumer
  12. Celebrities Wearing Rent the Runway Fashion— Including Iskra Lawrence, Awkwafina, Bella Hadid and More! – US Magazine
  13. eBay
  14. Tradesy
  15. Carrie Symonds Rents Another Dress from My Wardrobe HQ for G7 Summit – WWD

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