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  • Samantha Conti

Surf and Turf: Stella McCartney’s Stellawear Is Made for Land and Sea

Stella McCartney's hybrid collection works in the pool, at the beach — or layered under tailored clothing.

The Stellawear bodysuit and bandeau top by Stella McCartney.

Image Courtesy of Stella McCartney

LONDON — Animal lover that she is, Stella McCartney has drawn inspiration from the amphibian world for one of her newest collections, a lingerie/swimwear hybrid known as Stellawear.

The bodysuits, briefs and bandeau styles can be worn on land, and in the water, and are made by the Italian manufacturer ISA SpA from recycled materials. McCartney said the Stellawear pieces are her most eco-friendly underwear and swimwear offer, and have been designed as the ultimate multitaskers.

McCartney already makes dedicated swimwear and lingerie collections, which are produced under license by ISA, which specializes in soft accessories, underwear, beachwear and activewear for the luxury market.

In an interview, she said she was eager to explore new fabrics and techniques and encourage her customers to buy versatile, long-lasting clothing made from sustainable materials.

Stellawear lingerie/swimwear hybrids

Image Courtesy of Stella McCartney


“I’ve been talking a lot lately about the colossal amount of waste the fashion industry produces year after year. It’s truly shocking. We must stop and consider this waste, and we should buy less and buy better. The change is not only going to come from us as an industry, but also from consumer behavior — so it got me thinking,” she said.

“I wanted to create a product that is multifunctional and provides endless versatility and styling options. Hopefully, it will inspire people to buy less and wear these pieces more. They’re made from a sustainable fabric that is built to last, and this is a completely new category for us. I am really, really proud of what we’ve created.”

The pieces, which are meant to shape and sculpt, have been UV-tested and are chlorine and saltwater resistant, reversible, breathable and meant to dry quickly.

They are fashioned from sustainable materials, including Aquafil warp-knit yarn. The yarn is made from Roica Eco-Smart fibers, an elastane produced from pre-consumer recycled content.

Other materials in the collection include Econyl regenerated nylon yarn, which is created from ocean plastics, fishing nets and textiles destined for landfill.

McCartney said her company has been working with Econyl since 2017 and she estimates that by using the material, her company has prevented more than 10 tons of nylon from going to landfill.

McCartney said that from an aesthetic point of view, she wanted to create something “that sucked me in and sculpted my body in all the right places, but also something that I could wear as outerwear — or more intimately. I love the idea of wearing my Stellawear pieces with a pair of jeans, or on holiday for a dip in the pool. Because they are so versatile, we hope to inspire people to buy less and wear them more — which is much kinder to the planet.”

Stella McCartney Stellawear styled with

a tailored jacket from the mainline collection.

Image Courtesy of Stella McCartney


She worked closely with ISA on the fabric, and said the mandate was to create something that was 100 percent sustainable, but still be multifunctional — and sculpting.

ISA’s chief executive officer Mila Zegna Baruffa said this was no easy task.

“Stellawear has been a challenging project for my technicians,” she said. “It combines very specific needs: the right yarn and the right knitting technique to achieve a multifunctional product. Creativity is thinking up new things, innovation is doing new things, and this has been the perfect match for our partnership.”

McCartney said she always asks her design team to test everything “to try things on, to move in them, to see how the fabrics feel on the skin.”

In the case of Stellawear, “I had my design team head to the local pool and down to the beach as it was really important to me that we tested it in chlorine and saltwater as we wanted to develop something that’s made to last.”

She said the team didn’t want to hand the prototypes back, so she knew she was on to something.

McCartney said for spring 2022 she will be introducing two new silhouettes, a longer bra top and leggings, and has every intention to expand the offering.

Prices range from 95 pounds for a bandeau bra or a pair of briefs to 230 pounds for the bodysuits, with the pieces stocked mainly on the Stella McCartney website.


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