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Hollywood’s Newest Trend: Sustainable Fashion on the Red Carpet

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Hollywood knows one tale as old as time: Red Carpet Galas. We know them best as the biggest celebrity hotspots of the year and the perfect moment to show up every other A-lister in a custom couture gown or suit. 

These red carpet fashion shows have always been used as an opportunity to look even better than the rest of the Hollywood beauties: better hair, more unique makeup, and the most avant-garde outfit. At these yearly award shows, it is unconventional to see a star sport the same ensemble from years past, or even any piece that they might consider wearing on another occasion. As much as everyone loves to revel in the glorious conceptions of the fashion industry giants, the problem with this is the enforcement of the stigma around outfit repetition. This phenomenon that is supported by the biggest role models in Hollywood has furthered the idea for people everywhere that wearing the same thing twice should be frowned upon. If a young viewer watches their favorite icons contribute to textile usage in this much excess and fail to make a point about rewearing pieces, they will surely overlook the underlying issues themselves. In addition, this issue leaves the average person with the perception that you must fit these standards that celebrities have set and dress as they do, constantly having new clothes to debut for each occasion. 


The mindset of the runway goers continuously adds to the problem of textile waste in the modern world and ultimately to the fast fashion industry, which caters to the “no outfit repeating” phenomenon for the everyday shopper by supplying cheaper clothes and featuring new releases each week. Because this issue has presented itself in numerous ways on and off of the red carpet, many celebrities and their followers have begun advocating for an end to fast fashion and to the stigma around outfit-repeating. 

Some major celebrities have taken a step in the right direction by opting for vintage pieces rather than custom made garments for an occasion. Others have chosen to re-wear gowns they have kept from past award shows, emphasizing the positives of outfit repeating. 

Most recently, we have seen this exemplified in celebrities like Elizabeth Banks, who repurposed the Badgley Mischka dress that she wore in 2004 for the 2020 Oscars.  Similarly, Jane Fonda upheld her leadership as a climate change advocate as she donned the same Elie Saab gown at the 2020 Oscars that she wore to the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. Other celebrities such as Tiffany Haddish, Victoria Beckham, Keira Knightley, and Meryl Streep have participated in this movement of reusing past looks at major fashion events. Joaquin Phoenix even chose to go to the lengths of wearing the same Stella McCartney tux that he has worn all through the award season, thus proving a point about how little an outfit means in the grand scheme of life, and exhibiting his stance on reducing waste. Another unique eco-friendly practice at the 2020 Oscars was Saoirse Ronan’s decision to create a new look from the discarded satin used on her custom Gucci dress that she had worn to the BAFTAs just weeks before. 

Elizabeth Banks: Badgley Mischka, 2020 Oscars and 2004 Oscars
Jane Fonda: Elie Saab, 2020 Oscars, 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Joaquin Phoenix: Stella McCartney Tuxedo, 2020
Saoirse Ronan: Gucci, BAFTA Awards 2020
Saoirse Ronan: Gucci, Oscars 2020

A positive force in the celebrity world is the Red Carpet Green Dress initiative created by actress and environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron. RCGD is a women-led movement that aims to bring a sustainability factor to the Red Carpet. Annually, RCGD aligns with the Academy Awards to pair up with small, sustainable brands and celebrity ambassadors to educate people on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion in award shows. Past ambassadors for the program have included Zoey Deutch, Emma Roberts, Sophie Turner, and many more figures who are dedicated to changing the negative marks in fashion. Because celebrities’ decisions have a major impact on the behavior and dress of the everyday person who looks up, it is the responsibility of these socialites to use their platforms to advocate for slow fashion and sustainability in red carpet wear.  In the past, the RCGD initiative has teamed up with luxury designers to create more eco-conscious gowns in comparison to a typical couture ensemble worn on the red carpet. 


In recent years there has been a massive rise in ethical initiatives throughout Hollywood, especially on the famous red carpets that precede award shows. At this point, many celebrities have taken the steps to adopting more ethically conscious practices by choosing outfits made from eco-friendly materials as a push to encourage others to start thinking about what goes into their clothing. Many major celebrities have worked with high-fashion designers to create outfits uniquely from eco-friendly materials and practices. Back in 2016, Emma Watson vowed to bring green fashion to the red carpet beginning with her Calvin Klein Met Gala dress which was made of recycled plastic water bottles. In the same year, Calvin Klein also dressed Margot Robbie and Lupita Nyong’o in custom eco-friendly pieces.At the 2019 Met Gala, Gisele Bundchen chose to sport a Versace gown made of organic silk and cotton as an environmentally friendly alternative. Similarly, Cameron Diaz stood out at the 2012 Met Gala in a one-of-a-kind Stella McCartney dress made from organic silk and recycled glass beading. As an ambassador for RCGD, Lea Seydoux wore a sustainable Louis Vuitton gown made of eco-friendly filament yarn for the 2020 Oscars. 

Emma Watson: Calvin Klein, Met Gala 2016
Gisele Bundchen: Versace, Met Gala 2019
Cameron Diaz: Stella McCartney, Met Gala 2012
Lea Seydoux: Louis Vuitton, Oscars 2020

Like many things in Hollywood, sustainable fashion might be viewed by some as a fad that is “trendy” in the times and may be as short lived as any other yearly phenomenon. Even though popular fads like oat milk or claw clips come and go constantly, they still receive their moment of glory, and sustainable fashion deserves the same plus more. If celebrities begin enforcing a trend of ethical and sustainable fashion, many are sure to follow. If the everyday follower views eco-friendly clothing as trendy and current, there will be a favorable contribution to the fashion industry. Though the term “fad” often has a negative connotation, in this scenario there would be a positive impact if sustainability was adopted by many in terms of a fashion fad. The more that are converted from fast-fashion and worn-once outfits to environmentally friendly materials and low-waste living, the better off we will all be. Though many celebrities have paved the way tremendously, there are still plenty more to follow suit in order to make a substantial difference for everyone. 



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