Luxury sector is becoming increasingly aware and conscious of its role as the stakeholder for making the sector more conscious of the global rise of responsible and sustainable consumption and practices. More so when stakeholder and consumers are driven by purpose.
In the luxury sector, it’s a priority now to address key 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 in order 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 positive sector that is finally taking its responsibility.
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Gucci and UNICEF partnership
Gucci: a veteran luxury sustainable brand has been leading the movement for over a decade. Leading the responsible luxury movement, GUCCI’s partnerships with UNICEF at a global level has 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 fair chance to learn’
During their 10 year partnership celebration, they showcased the accomplishments of their projects together with screening of Growing Tall – a short film that highlighted 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 construction of approximately 1,800 water and sanitation facilities in schools, helping to ensure clean water for drinking and hygiene and has also facilitated 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 and will now be extended through UN agency’s – Chime for Change – campaign that will target children and families in crisis in Syria.
Mr Lake further added that – ‘Through our long and successful partnership, Gucci has helped provided 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 important framework for international cooperation to be able to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDG’s) and is one of UNESCO’s major programs.
– Their partnership will help to facilitate the implementation of innovative solutions for natural and sustainable resources management as well as in the identification of products and new markets focused on quality and traceability of the materials used.
– LVMH will also contribute to the scientific research projects led by the MAB and will also make a few selected infrastructure resources available to help them establish pilot sites for conservation and responsible long-term protection of biodiversity.
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From animal products to eco-friendly resources: The changing dynamics..
With a more aware consumer and changing consumption pattern globally, luxury brands that have been in the limelight for using animal skins, fur and un-sustainable practices. They are now slowly making the 180 degree move to bring in sustainability as part of their collections and let go of some aspects that are globally and ethically looked down upon.
Here are a couple of examples of this:
Versace’s path to sustainability.
In 2018, the global iconic luxury house from Italy made a commitment to stop using 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 in order to record what the life cycle of all the brands products was like and various ways to improve as well as optimize processes for a greener future.
One of their initiatives now also 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.
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Burberry’s shift towards ecological conscious commitment
Burberry has been known to be in the news for no the right reasons. In 2018, a scandal broke out thanks to their annual report where it is specified that it had burned 28.6 million pounds of material out of season. Clearly the global community did not take this lightly and gave the luxury house harsh criticism. 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 10 years.
A shift is imperative. Brands like Dior, Fendi, Givenchy and few others have also announced their partnership with UNESCO and plan to be leaders and front-runners in transparency of where they source their materials from and their supply chain.
While the luxury sector has been prior infamous to be once detached from sustainability, we can see how brands like Gucci and LV’s partnerships with UNESCO have been strong catalysts in bringing in a paradigm shift in the luxury world. From being in their own world to now being focused on being an agent of change and influencing others to make these shifts, the sector is on its way to become a responsible one. Key to this shift and global change is to remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.