Eco Gender Gap: Why women dominate the sustainable fashion industry

Stella McCartney, Gabriela Hearst, Priya Ahluwalia – when it comes to driving sustainability in the fashion world, women are clearly the pioneers. But this eco gender gap could become a serious problem for the ecological transformation of the industry

Eco-Gender Gap
Source & Copyright by Ahluwalia, Gabriela Hearst, Stella McCartney

Author: House of Eden

The fashion industry is facing one of the biggest challenges in its history: the transition to sustainable practices and production methods. It is striking that the majority of the creative minds behind the leading sustainable brands Women are. Particularly prominent female designers such as Stella McCartney or Gabriela Hearst have, with their commitment and reach, made a significant contribution to ensuring that sustainability in the fashion industry receives more attention.

But how did we get to this point where women are predominantly responsible for the green transformation the fashion industry on their shoulders? In the following, we want to explain why it is no coincidence that the sustainable fashion business is so strongly characterized by female leaders. Finally, it is also about understanding why this eco gender gap could pose a problem for ecological change in the fashion world in the long term.

Source & Copyright by Stella McCartney

How does the Eco Gender Gap arise?

The reasons for the imbalance between the sexes when it comes to commitment to sustainability often lie in upbringing and traditional role models. Due to their socialization, women often have a closer relationship to environmental and community issues than men. Finally, young girls are often specifically encouraged to demonstrate values ​​such as consideration, empathy and sacrifice for the benefit of others. As a result, they feel a greater sense of responsibility towards their fellow human beings and the environment in their actions.

These gender differences in terms of a sustainable lifestyle can also be proven statistically. According to the Allensbach Market and Advertising Analysis (AWA) from 2023 At 64 percent compared to 37 percent, significantly more women than men lead a lifestyle that focuses on health and sustainability. According to a study, the proportion of women Splendid Research Survey for vegetarians it is around 80 percent. Women also lead the way in buying second-hand clothing, with 80 percent compared to 56 percent, according to a Online survey commissioned by Momox Overall, women see themselves as AWA more often than environmentalists.

Even in the debates about sensible measures to combat the climate crisis, gender differences are evident. According to a Study by US psychologist Janet K. Swim Women are more likely to pursue approaches that are based on their own and collective Change in consumer behavior and lifestyle. In contrast, men who have historically benefited from the status quo tend to believe that technology, business and governments alone can solve the problems without them having to change their lifestyle or even needing a new way of doing business.

The Female Force in the Fashion Industry

Especially in the fashion industry, ecological change has a female face. One reason for this is that not only a large proportion of consumers are women, but also the producers. According to estimates by fairtrade international female, so it is not only an ecological but also a feminist concern to change the economic and production methods of the fashion industry. Strong women are leading the way here. These creative minds have made a particularly big impact:

Stella McCartney, founder of the eponymous brand

She is considered a pioneer of sustainable fashion alternatives, focusing on the use of cruelty-free materials and is committed to protecting animals. By combining high fashion with sustainability, she has shown that it is possible to create stylish and luxurious clothing without neglecting ethical and ecological principles.

Source & Copyright by Stella McCartney

Gabriela Hearst, founder of the eponymous brand and former creative director of Chloé

As chief designer of Chloé Gabriela Hearst led the traditional French Maison to become the first luxury brand in the world to achieve B Corp certification. She continues this sustainable mission today with her own label Gabriela Hearst. By using ecological materials and manufacturing processes, she shows how luxury and style can coexist with environmental awareness. Her influence goes beyond her own brand and inspires the fashion world to pursue more sustainable and responsible approaches.

Source & Copyright by Gabriela Hearst

Priya Ahluwalia, founder of the brand Ahluwalia

Designer Priya Ahluwalia shows with her award-winning label, which fashionable Potential in recycling In factories that employ and pay women from rural areas fairly, she transforms vintage materials into unique fashion creations using various patchwork techniques. The fashion designer draws inspiration for her designs from her Indian-Nigerian roots.

Source & Copyright by Ahluwalia

Phoebe English, founder of the brand of the same name

Phoebe English is an outstanding British fashion designer. When creating the collections for her eponymous label, she is particularly distinguished by her sustainable approach, completely avoiding materials that contain fossil substances. Each garment is carefully designed, using only one type of fiber to ensure the recyclability and biodegradability. She has received numerous awards for her innovative approaches, including the "Leaders of Change" Award from the British Fashion Council.

Source & Copyright by Phoebe English

Eileen Fisher, founder of the brand of the same name

Eileen Fisher is considered a pioneer in promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices in the fashion industry. Her brand is known for its commitment to sustainability. Organic fabrics, recycled materials and fair labor practices have long been standard for her. In addition to creating stylish and timeless designs, Eileen Fisher has been promoting greater transparency in supply chains and the introduction of sustainable business models for decades.

Source & Copyright by Eileen Fisher

Why don’t more brands follow good examples?

According to a report by the European Investment Fund Women-led companies perform better in the areas of environment, social issues and governance than companies run by men. Companies with a higher proportion of women in management are also more successful in implementing environmentally friendly processes. Female Leathership stands for sustainable business practices that are not only aimed at short-term profits, but also take into account the social and ecological impacts of doing business. For women, it is often more important to make an entrepreneurial and innovative contribution to environmental protection or to solving a social problem than to simply maximize profits.

And this is precisely the reason why more companies do not follow female leaders. The female-connoted economy is in contrast to the decades-long patriarchy and the Capitalism shaped logic of growth and profit-seeking. Women are often assumed to be less business-oriented and therefore less effective in tough competition. It is therefore difficult for the soft, feminine success factors to prevail. In many people's minds, sustainability is primarily a women's issue, nice to have but not necessary, while profit maximization, the central aspect of economics in the capitalist mindset, is a male domain. The management levels of the large fashion companies are still male-dominated - from the 30 leading luxury brands in Vogue Business Index 2023 Only eight of the 33 creative directors are women.

Impact of the Eco Gender Gap on the Sustainable Development Goals

The fact that sustainability is seen as a predominantly female characteristic is increasingly becoming a problem for society as a whole, making it difficult to implement an ecological economy and behavior - both on the part of companies and consumers.

A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Customer Research published study that many men shy away from adopting sustainable behaviors that are connoted as feminine in order to preserve their gender identity. They perceive sustainable purchasing decisions as "not masculine." Not only do they not feel addressed by sustainable product promises, but they deliberately boycott sustainable choices because they do not correspond to their understanding of masculinity and do not contribute to their learned role model.

Source & Copyright by Gabriela Hearst

What if more men made sustainable fashion?

From tradition to transformation: In order to achieve real change and to stop perceiving sustainability as a women's domain, it is necessary to decouple sustainable action from stereotypical gender roles. In order to promote a gender-neutral perception of sustainability, new role models are needed. If more male designers promoted sustainable action and industry stars such as Kanye West or Pharell Williams made sustainability their top priority like the female trailblazers of the eco-fashion industry, the effects could be considerable.

Their commitment to greater sustainability would open up the opportunity for a more comprehensive and faster transformation of the fashion industry. Male designers who are committed to sustainability could help break gender stereotypes and show that economic success and sustainability can go hand in hand. As role models, they would increase the visibility and acceptance of sustainable fashion among the male part of the population, which could lead to greater global awareness and greater demand for ethically produced garments.

Conclusion: Inclusive solutions for a sustainable future

The Eco Gender Gap poses a serious challenge for sustainable Transformation of the fashion industry Traditional gender roles act as a brake on sustainable change. As long as environmentally conscious behavior is considered "unmanly" and women bear the brunt of the responsibility for the green transition on their shoulders, it will be difficult to make real progress.

In order to overcome this gap and establish more diversity and thus more sustainability in the fashion industry, we need to address the roots and question existing gender clichés and stereotypes. Only if we see sustainability as a task for society as a whole and more men get involved can we create a truly inclusive and sustainable fashion industry. Women like Stella McCartney, Priya Ahluwalia and Gabriela Hearst have paved the way, but they alone cannot change the entire industry.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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