Meghan Markle "is inspiring others" as she continues to champion ethical and sustainable fashion brands
Like many royals before her, Meghan Markle is sending a clear message through her clothing choices, and she’s championing an issue close to her heart: sustainable fashion.
“The eyes of the world are constantly on the royal family, so it is very meaningful that the Duchess has placed a focus on sustainability,” Sarah Staudinger, co-founder of STAUD, the designer behind Meghan’s recycled nylon dress worn on her tour of Africa, tells PEOPLE. “We are honored that she chose to wear a dress from our brand.”
Meghan chose the Los Angeles brand’s “Millie” dress for her visit to the Auwal Mosque with Prince Harry last week. Teaming the floor-length olive green shirt dress with a cream headscarf and flat pumps, the belted dress was not only a chic look, but it was also eco-friendly (made entirely from recycled nylon).
“The response has been incredible and has exposed us to a much wider audience,” adds the designer of the $325 dress, which is now on pre-order.
The sustainable theme was apparent right from the start of the tour, when Meghan wore a black and white print dress from local label Mayamiko. The ethical, zero-waste fashion brand uses reclaimed and up-cycled materials alongside locally sourced artisanal fabrics from Malawi. Training disadvantaged women in their workshop, many of whom are affected by the HIV pandemic, their collections are produced in limited numbers and of course, Meghan’s Dalitso Dress instantly sold out.
When the royal mom, 38, wasn’t wearing recycled or ethically sourced local fabrics, she’s been recycling from her own closet. Re-wearing a blue Veronica Beard shirt dress and a striped Martin Grant maxi dress, both worn on her last tour, Meghan also revamped a black jumpsuit from another sustainable brand – Everlane, last seen in the “Forces for Change” video for the September issue of British Vogue, which she guest-edited.
“I think she’s a very positive role model,” Lisette Polny, founder of Zofia Day jewelry tells PEOPLE. Meghan chose a pave diamond and gold bracelet by Polny to accessorize her Everlane jumpsuit.
The Los Angeles jeweler adds, “She’s showing women that it is beautiful to be conscious of our environment and that you can make choices that can make change.”
It’s certainly a passion project that became apparent soon after Meghan and Harry announced their engagement. On one of her first royal walkabouts, she wore the sustainable Welsh denim brand Hiut Denim.Co, which produces organic, sustainable jeans and hire from their local community. She’s also sported ethical and socially conscious brands like Reformation, Gabriela Hirst, Maggie Marilyn and Outland Denim. The Duchess of Sussex even chose Stella McCartney, one of the early pioneers of ethical fashion, to design her evening wedding reception dress.
Ticking all the boxes for originality, buying local whilst keeping the sustainable message strong, Meghan wore a pair of leaf-shaped handcrafted porcelain earrings on tour. Taking up to one week to craft each pair, South African jeweler Nina Bosch, finishes each pair in 18-karat gold. “I love what she is doing and I love her vibe,“ says the jeweler, who has since received orders from all over the world. “It’s exciting that fashion can be part of the whole sustainable movement and it’s amazing that she is doing this — she is making people aware, and she’s inspiring others.”
Baby Archie also made his own contribution to the cause when he appeared for his first royal engagement meeting Archbishop Tutu in an outfit from H&M’s Conscious collection. Made from organic cotton, the cute dungarees are from the brand’s popular sustainable line which contain at least 50% recycled materials or organic materials.