Stella McCartney presents the first plant-based, plastic-free sequin garment

British fashion designer Stella McCartney has unveiled the world’s first garment made with Radiant Matter’s plastic-free, plant-based sequins.

Radiant Matter, a material innovation start-up, has developed sequins called “BioSequins” that are made from plant-based cellulose and therefore contain no metals, minerals, synthetic pigments or dyes. Instead, the innovative sequins are plastic-free, biodegradable and non-toxic.

With the “BioSequins”, McCartney has designed a sleeveless and fitted jumpsuit that was handmade in the label’s London studio for British model Cara Delevingne and will be seen on the cover of American Vogue in April 2023.

“I’m stunned by the dazzling beauty of our BioSequin jumpsuit – handmade in my London studio from plant-based, non-toxic sequins that are even more stunning than traditional varieties,” the designer said in a press release. “Who said sustainability can’t be sexy ?”

Although the exclusive one-piece isn’t yet commercially available, McCartney wanted to show the potential of Radiant Matter’s material innovation as she works with her brand to use only recycled and recyclable bio-based alternatives in the near future.

Traditional sequins are made from polyester film (Mylar) or vinyl (PVC), the label explains: Any fabric that sparkles, glitters, or has a reflective quality has high levels of petroleum plastic, toxic coatings, or metalized parts.

The fashion industry is a massive contributor to the global plastic problem. According to the United Nations, 70 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture polyester every year. According to data from British charity Oxfam, British women buy 33 million sequined garments each year around Christmas, of which 1.7 million end up in landfill after just five wears. According to the European Environment Agency, about 35 percent of the microplastics that end up in the world’s oceans come from synthetic clothing.

This translated post previously appeared on Translation and editing: Pia Schulz