Is Luxury an environmentally aware industry?


Excerpts from Planet Fashion, Wallpaper april 2015

The luxury goods industry is an environementally aware spin as consumers demand ethics to match their aesthetics.

+ Dilys Williams, professor, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion says:

‘Sustainability is a hugely complex discipline. It is technical, mathematical, and psychological, and it is also about economics. Fashion is about navigating how we live today – it is a snapshot of our world. Fashion and sustainability have to be a good match.’

+ Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering –which own Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta among other brands – hire a chief of sustainability officier in 2012. Marie-Claire Daveu, formerly of the French Ministry of ecology, is now three years into the newly created role. Daveu says unequivocally:

‘Sustainability is the most important issue of our century. My role is to provide an overview, a strategy, a vision and create an action plan. If we are speaking about a vision, for Pinault it is about putting sustainability at the core of the business strategy.’

+ It is to Daveu and her team’s job to make this mind-boggling amount of data tangible to the CEO.

+ ‘You have to be able to identify weakness and strengths and make a strategy for investment and implementation of the most efficient methods’ says Daveu. It is about developping a common language with the financial team.

+ What is good practice for Gucci might not make sense for Saint Laurent or Brioni. Brand-specific plans have to be drawn up. In 2014, achievements included introducing LED lighting in Saint Laurent stores; the use of sustainable wool at Stella McCartney; and the aforementioned heavy-metal-free tanning at Gucci.

+ Daveu believes in the power of fashion to change the mindsets, ‘Luxury sets the trends’, but we need to engage more people to change the paradigm.

+ Sharing information, Daveu said, is essential even if it runs counter to ingrained thinking for the luxury goods groups.

+ LVMH runs its LIFE program (LVMH Indicators For the Environment) across its five business groups: wines and spirits; fashion and leather goods; perfumes and cosmetics; watchs and jewellery. The initiative set in motion in 2011 identifies key areas including eco design, raw materials, and supply chains,material tracebility, supplier relations, reduction of greenhouse gases…
Last year the programme overseen by Sylvie Bénard, director of environment at LVMH, was incorporated into the strategy af all the maisons.

+ The consensus among top-tier luxury brands seems to be that products do not need badges, but rather that we can assume that sustenability is now built in to the broader quality assurance.

+ Some luxury goods chiefs will privately admit that sustainability is not an issue for many of its current customers, and the brands don’t want to ram (faire adopter) it down to their throats.

+ All the same, they are betting that the next wave of luxury consumers will care about sustainability — and care very deeply.

+ Bruno Pieters set up the website Honest By in 2012, to be transparent about footprint behind his designs and those of six like-minded brands
The achievement is making geeky data compelling. Last year Pieters founded the Future Fashion Designer scholarship – a €10 000 award for young designers wanting to learn how to work in a transaparent, sustainable way.


+ Diane Verde Nieto, founder of sustainability consultancy Clownfish, and the Butterfly Trust Mark (list is from Acne to Veuve Cliquot)
She helps brands to communicate their commitment to creating the best quality, design, craftmanship, service and sustainability

Download a PDF about DVN and Clownfish here

Below Diane Verde Nieto


+ Brands are always looking at ways to prove and profit for their sustainability credentials.

+ With a growing demand for luxury brands to get an ROI on their sustainability communications, more and more are looking for tools like Verde Nieto’s one to use across their digital marketing strategies.+ Sustainability is also becoming a recruitlent issue as young designers look for training that addresses sustainability and then look to work for companies that take the matter seriously.

+ London College of Fashion offers an MA in sustainability as well as being a research centre and an advisory body to business.

+ The centre is currently collaborating on a project called Design for Biodiversity part of the Responsible Ecosystemes Sourcing Plateform. It is a five-year research project into the impact on biodiversity of sourcing for luxury brands such as Armani and Hermès. The results should see a shareable set of tools that can be used by designers and brands to assess the impact of cultivation and sourcing.

+ The centre also work with Nike Lab. The project was about humanising data and working with the brand to build an app that could ascertain the relative impact of making something, whether that be in silk, cotton or wool – to encourage designers to be more explorative.

+ For new brands there is the opportunity to be sustainable from the start. In New-York, fashion brand Maiyet seek out craftsmen from around the world (Mongolia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Peru, Italy…) and create a viable, modern luxury brand around them. The philosophy of the brand is that they want to create sustainable employment opportunities in places that need it most.

+ Millennials are expecting more than ever from brands, and they’re increasingly starting to lead in the luxury field. They expect high transparency, ethical behaviour, sustainability and values from the brands they consume.

+ Provenance is as important as “good looks”

+ Stella McCartney leads the way, she recently created a Green Carpet collection in collaboration with the Green Carpet challenge founded by Livia Firth. For Stella McCartney it a way to prove that it is possible to create and deliver beautiful, luxurious evening wear causing little no harm to the environment.

“In luxury, every brand has an obligation to integrate sustainabilituy practices. There is no choice, it’s essential for ethical values but also to be able to continue to do business. Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering