The luxury sector is becoming increasingly aware and conscious of its role as a stakeholder in making the industry more conscious of the global rise of responsible and sustainable consumption and practices. More so when stakeholders and consumers are driven by purpose.
In the luxury sector, it’s a priority now to address critical global issues from climate change to gender equality and sourcing of products. Andrea D’avack, President of Chanel Foundation and Global Head of Corporate Responsibility, said, ‘A luxury brand has to represent the best in the society to be relevant tomorrow’. As one of the largest consumer industries today in the world, the luxury sector is a true powerhouse for global development, with over 60 million people along its value chain – as per UN Fashion Alliance.
The industry names like Alexander McQueen to Zegna have all been seen to implement sustainable strategies and create a more green and buoyant sector that is finally taking responsibility.
Gucci and UNICEF partnership
Gucci: a veteran luxury sustainable brand that has been leading the movement for over a decade. Leading the responsible luxury movement, GUCCI’s partnerships with UNICEF at a global level have been a game changer. At their 10-year celebration, UNICEF’s executive director Anthony Lake mentioned in a press release that ‘UNICEF is grateful to GUCCI and its employees for their commitment to improving children’s lives and future through education’ and that ‘Every child should have a fair chance in life. That begins with a reasonable opportunity to learn.
During their 10-year partnership celebration, they showcased their projects’ accomplishments and the screening of Growing Tall – a short film highlighting the ‘power of education to transform lives, especially for girls and women.
In their 10-year partnership, with Gucci’s support, UNICEF has been able to train more than 8700 teachers and educators, construct close to 300 school classrooms and supply 14,600 school desks. Their partnership has also led to the construction of approximately 1,800 water and sanitation facilities in schools, helping to ensure clean water for drinking and hygiene, facilitating government policy changes on education and improving school pedagogy and curriculum. As noted by UNICEF, the benefits have reached more than 7.5 million children in Africa and Asia. They will now be extended through the UN agency’s – Chime for Change – a campaign targeting children and families in crisis in Syria.
Mr Lake further added that – ‘Through our long and successful partnership, Gucci has helped provide that chance to so many children who might otherwise be excluded – and in doing so, provided them with the tools to build a better world for themselves and their communities.
Gucci is also known to have been launching ecological consumption initiatives in its products since 2010.
LVMH and UNESCO partnership
LVMH has teamed up with UNESCO as a partner to the agency’s – Man and Biosphere (MAB) intergovernmental scientific program that aims to safeguard biodiversity across the planet. MAB is known to offer a competitive and essential framework for international cooperation to be able to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDG’s). It is one of UNESCO’s major programs.
– Their partnership will help to facilitate the implementation of innovative solutions for natural and sustainable resources management and in the identification of products and new markets focused on the quality and traceability of the materials used.
– LVMH will also contribute to the scientific research projects led by the MAB and make a few selected infrastructure resources available to help them establish pilot sites for conservation and responsible long-term biodiversity protection.
From animal products to eco-friendly resources: The changing dynamics..
With a more aware consumer and changing consumption patterns globally, luxury brands have been in the limelight for using animal skins, fur and unsustainable practices. They are now slowly making the 180-degree move to bring in sustainability as part of their collections and let go of some globally and ethically overlooked aspects.
Here are a couple of examples of this:
Versace’s path to sustainability.
In 2018, the global iconic luxury house from Italy committed to stopping the use of animal skins in its pieces, especially kangaroo skins – which was their star material.
Donatella Versace herself said – ‘Didn’t feel right killing animals to make fashion’ and began the journey of the brand to introspect their work to record what the life cycle of all the brand’s products was like and various ways to improve as well as optimize processes for a greener future.
One of their initiatives now includes participating in the working group of sustainability of Carrera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI) to approve standards on chemical safety – as their website states.
Burberry’s shift towards conscious ecological commitment
Burberry has been known to be in the news for not the right reasons. In 2018, a scandal broke out thanks to their annual report, which specified that it had burned 28.6 million pounds of material out of season. Clearly, the global community did not take this lightly and harshly criticised the luxury house. Even with this scandal, the brand is known to have overhauled its sustainability policy many times and has been collaborating for the future of sustainability for over ten years.
A shift is imperative. Brands like Dior, Fendi, Givenchy and a few others have also announced their partnership with UNESCO and plan to be leaders and front-runners in the transparency of where they source their materials from and their supply chain.
While the luxury sector has been infamous for being once detached from sustainability, we can see how brands like Gucci and LV’s partnerships with UNESCO have been strong catalysts in bringing a paradigm shift in the luxury world. From being in their world to being focused on being an agent of change and influencing others to make these shifts, the sector is on its way to becoming responsible. The key to this shift and global change is to remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.