Sex and The City’s lead character Carrie Bradshaw is a case in point. From baring her midriff in a python boob tube to owning that effortless city look in an LBD and aviators, Carrie’s wardrobe was always iconic – and remains so to this day.
Throughout the noughties, we also had Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf influencing a whole generation of viewers looking to emulate her polished Upper East Side style and The O.C.’s Marissa Cooper who inspired the teens of the 2000s to fill their closets with miniskirts and low-rise jeans.
More recently, our wardrobes have taken style cues from shows like Euphoria, withJules Vaughn encapsulating Gen Z’s penchant for bright, experimental fashion and Maddy Perez being as recognisable for her unapologetic attitude as she is for her crop tops and sharp winged eyeliner. Emily Cooper, Emily in Paris’ ambitious marketing prodigy, has shone a fresh light on the working millennial wardrobe, as has Succession’s Siobhan Roy (albeit for a slightly more corporate worker) with her tailored power suits and turtlenecks.
Pinterest boards, fashion publications and decades of dedicated television viewing have confirmed that a well-thought wardrobe is just as crucial as good dialogue and a solid script. From where we’re watching, therein lies an enormous opportunity.
While developing our first TV series, Big Oil, RIISE made the decision to curate the show’s entire wardrobe using only sustainably made clothing and vintage fashion. It will be the first of its kind for television. “There’s no doubting TV’s influence on mainstream culture,” RIISE CEO Sara Bell says. “We want to capitalise on that and present fashion that is responsible with a minimal environmental impact to audiences. By doing this, we’ll show that wearing beautiful, sustainable clothing not only looks good but is attainable too. It’s a big part of our strategy to engage viewers in the climate conversation through entertaining TV.”
Sustainable fashion is at a pivotal moment. Perceptions of what it means to dress with a lower environmental impact are changing and more people are realising that responsibly made clothing doesn’t mean forgoing the inherent joys of fashion. “That is kind of the crux of it,” Sara says. “There are so many brands producing extraordinarily well-designed and well-made clothing that doesn’t harm the planet. A big part of our TV shows is to showcase those brands and products to mainstream audiences.”
Producing TV with an entirely sustainable wardrobe is ambitious in and of itself but there are plans to push the envelope even further. All of RIISE’s TV series are underpinned by an innovative commercial model. Items in the wardrobe and on set are sourced from RIISE’s e-commerce platform, which only stocks vetted sustainable brands. Viewers are then given a direct avenue to shop these environmentally-responsible products from each episode.
Prime Video’s miniseries Daisy Jones & The Six is proof this concept has legs. Since its release in early March, the series has generated as much talk about its music as it has its costumes. Women’s clothing brand Free People has released a Daisy Jones & The Six capsule collection, giving viewers direct access to the 70s styles – from breezy Bohemian dresses to flared jeans – worn by the series lead Riley Keough on-screen.
The opportunity to apply this model to the sustainable fashion market is where the idea becomes most exciting. “It’s incredibly important that we use economics to solve climate change,” Sara explains. “By creating exciting narratives, that have an opportunity to showcase beautiful products, we’re able to draw the audience in and provide them with the means to action. While of course on some level, the audience is going to be laughing at the problem, we’re also giving them ways to be part of the solution by switching their buying habits to products that are made with the planet in mind. The whole point of our TV is not to leave the audience feeling hopeless but like they can create meaningful change.”
The products featured throughout RIISE’s series, including those featured in the two scenes shot earlier this month, will cover a range of price points, making them attainable to broad audiences. “This has a larger knock-on effect. The quality and design of the products will draw in more and more shoppers, which enables economies of scale,” Sara says. “The more manufacturing can be at scale, the more the price points are going to come down, making sustainable products more accessible.”
And just like Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe obsessionmade brands like Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik household names, Sara says the goal is to do the same for sustainable makers. “I really hope that part of what we achieve through these TV shows is that we make sustainable brands globally recognised and give them a mainstream audience. Because they deserve it.”