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Red Carpet Green Dress™ (RCGD), which has been committed to creating positive change for over a decade, was originally conceived in response to a lack of ethical choices on the red carpet. Lenzing Group’s textile brand, TENCEL™, shares a similar vision as it combines high quality and high fashion with sustainability. Coming together and partnering to launch a range of eco-couture textiles for the Oscars ceremony in 2020 felt like a natural next step for both parties. Following the success of the 2020 collaboration, RCGD and the TENCEL™ brand team teamed up for a second year running at the Oscars red carpet on 25th April.
In a two-part series, we sat down with Samata Pattinson, CEO at RCGD and Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing & Branding at Lenzing, to discuss this partnership and the motivations behind it in more depth. The first part of the series focuses on introducing the two brands and the reasons why they came together for the Oscars collaboration.
Q: Can you give us an introduction to your respective brands and what they do?
Samata: Red Carpet Green Dress™ is a women-led organization which was founded by leading environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron in 2009. Our objective was to spark a meaningful debate at red carpet events around sustainable fashion and the need to consider the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. We’re passionate about collaborating with designers, working with fashion colleges, and conducting detailed research on the ways we can talk about sustainability and solve issues in the fashion industry. These could be material solutions or educating the up-and-coming generation of designers. The thread which defines all of the work that we do is a passion for sustainability, and our aim is to make people feel excited and hopeful in the conversations that we’re having with them about sustainability. We are very much about the dialogue, but we are also about the action as well.
Harold: TENCEL™ is the textile specialty brand under the Lenzing Group that covers textile specialty product fiber offerings. Our TENCEL™ branded fiber is made from botanic origin and sets a new standard in sustainability and natural comfort. It's a branded fiber that provides gentleness to the skin, caters for distinctive everyday usage or application and at the same time is beneficial for the environment. We use the phrase “TENCEL™ feels so right” because of the softness, smoothness and comfort you get from it, but also because you are making the right choice for the environment.
Q: This is the second consecutive year for TENCEL™ to collaborate with Red Carpet Green Dress™ at the Oscars, so what do you look forward to the most in this partnership?
Samata: The partnership with TENCEL™ is very exciting! Firstly, part of the challenge we often hear about when it comes to sustainability is that, however appealing it is, it’s inaccessible. What I love about collaborating with TENCEL™ is that it produces solutions which are accessible to everyone. Whether you’re looking at a pair of Levi's® jeans that features TENCEL™ branded fibers, or whether you’re looking at a couture evening gown that features TENCEL™ Luxe filament yarn, these sustainable solutions are accessible to the entire fashion industry. Even if you are being innovative and pioneering, it is also important to create solutions that are accessible. The designer part of me gets incredibly excited because the applications available through using TENCEL™ branded materials are fantastic and wide-ranging.
With our TENCEL™ collaboration, we are not just talking responsible production, we are also talking responsible consumption, and we are trying to educate people on how they can play a part in this eco-movement.
At the same time, when you think about something as big as the Oscars, what’s not to get excited about that?
Harold: If we want to drive positive change in the fashion ecosystem, it has to be through collaboration. One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is exactly that – partnering for change. This is what we are trying to achieve with the collaboration between two organizations who are both committed to driving sustainability in fashion and pursuing that change. Joining forces at the Oscars red carpet, which is truly a stage for high fashion, creates a platform that not only enables us to empower new designers but also share our efforts with the rest of the world.
We hope that our collaboration will encourage more designers and brands to look out for materials that not only expand the frontiers of aesthetic appeal, but also make a difference to our planet.
Q: How has sustainable premium fashion or eco-couture changed over the past year? Where do you see the future of eco-couture?
Samata: Eco-couture has evolved multiple times over the last few years. When we first started RCGD in 2009, we were struggling to find sustainable materials that would work. We also had to push to find designers and persuade the talents that we worked with this could be beautiful. In the early stages, the expectation was that once you used the word “eco” or “sustainable”, the outfit would be uncool, wouldn’t look good, feel good, be desirable. What we’ve done with the Oscars is shown that sustainability in couture can be design-led and luxurious. As we moved into the collaboration with TENCEL™ and TENCEL™ Luxe, this initiative has been elevated to the next level.
Now, people are interested in talking about a material which is cellulose based, biodegradable, and made with an environmentally friendly closed-loop production process. It’s no longer simply a conversation about how wonderful the material feels, but also a discussion about what’s happening around the production of this material. I am glad that we are all evolving and moving past purely the aesthetic and looking for deeper stories as well.
Q: What are some of the benefits for TENCEL™ Luxe filament yarn and why is it ideal for creating eco-couture?
Harold: TENCEL™ Luxe is a brand offered under the TENCEL™ family. However, unlike the regular TENCEL™, which starts as a fiber and is spun into a yarn, TENCEL™ Luxe is produced from the beginning as a filament yarn, which means a continuous thread very similar to silk, which gives a liquid-like drape and provides softness and smoothness. Unlike silk, it is animal-friendly and vegan – making it the perfect solution to drive sustainability in premium and high-end fashion. Only a tiny percentage of the leading fashion brands are capable of tracking their garments back to the fiber origin, and with our TENCEL™ Luxe collaboration we plan to be part of the movement to make this the norm.
Stay tuned for the second part of this story, where we continue our conversation with Samata and Harold and look ahead to the future of eco-couture and the environmental challenges the fashion industry still needs to overcome.