The Oscars proved that recycled fashion is *the* sustainable trend of red carpet style

February 10, 2020 at 07:31PM by CWC

“Shopping your stash”—aka making use out of things you already own in an effort to buy less—has become a stronghold of sustainability. We’ve seen it happening in our beauty cabinets, in our closets, and in our refrigerators. But the most recent place the trend has popped up, and one that caught us by surprise, was the 2019 Oscars red carpet.

On Sunday night, Jane Fonda showed up to the 92nd Academy awards wearing the same gorgeous Elie Saab gown she wore to the 2014 Cannes film festival. Fonda, who has been an outspoken activist on the subject of climate change, vowed to quit shopping last year, and made good on her promise at the most highly-publicized fashion events of the year.  “So when I talk to people about, ‘We don’t really need to keep shopping. We shouldn’t look to shopping for our identity. We don’t need more stuff,’ then I have to walk the walk too. So I’m not buying any more clothes,” she said during a protest on November 1, 2019. And walk the walk she did: in a vintage dress and sustainably harvested jewelry, no-less.

oscars sustainable fashion
Photo: Getty Images/Well+Good Creative

But Fonda wasn’t the only one who wore a pre-loved piece from her own wardrobe. Elizabeth Banks wore a red gown that the world already ooh-ed and ahh-ed over at the 2004 Vanity Fair Oscars party to this year’s event, Arianna Huffington repurposed a dress from 2003, and Joaquin Phoenix wore the same Stella McCartney tuxedo he’s worn to every other awards show this season. Saoirse Ronan used the extra material from her BAFTAs dress to create the black-and-lavender look she wore to the Academy Awards, and while Margot Robbie didn’t quite shop her own stash for this year’s event, she did shop Coco Chanel’s, opting for a vintage gown that the design house created for another client in the 1990s. (Of course, this isn’t the first time stars have re-worn outfits on the red carpet: Both Rita Moreno and Tiffany Haddish re-wore dresses from their closets to the 2018 Oscars, but this year’s Oscars seems to really hit a sustainable stride.)

“When I talk to people about, ‘We don’t really need to keep shopping. We shouldn’t look to shopping for our identity. We don’t need more stuff,’ then I have to walk the walk too.” —Jane Fonda

oscars sustainable fashion
Photo: Getty Images/Well+Good Creative

Considering the startling statistics on clothing waste—in the United States, the EPA estimates that the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothes every year—the idea that celebs are recycling their clothing for the biggest event of the year is the a true statement, and not just a fashion one. While the couture gowns that celebs wear to the Oscars don’t exactly wind up in the donation bin after a single wear the same way, say, a Forever 21 graphic tee would (according to Vogue, those dresses and outfits are usually returned to the designer, though in some rare cases stars are allowed to keep them for their own collections), it’s rare that they ever see the light of day again once they’ve been photographed hundreds of times and splashed across the Internet. So in an age where many  people still think twice before re-wearing an outfit (many of us grew up with the phrase “Lizzie McGuire, you’re an outfit repeater!” burned into our brains, and Rent The Runway clearly exists for a reason), it’s a major win for sustainable fashion to see celebs telling us that not only is it okay to be an outfit repeat-er, but it will actually land you a spot on the best-dressed list.

Fashion isn’t the only place where sustainability is (thankfully, finally) getting cool: we called sustainable beauty as one of the biggest trends of 2020. And here are our favorite sustainable athleisure brands that will help make every workout more eco-friendly. 

Author Zoe Weiner | Well and Good
Selected by CWC


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