It’s been over three years since the WWF published the seminal report ‘Deeper Luxury: quality and style where the world matters,’ which looked at the luxury goods industry and found that despite strong commercial drivers for greater sustainability, luxury brands have been slow to recognise their responsibilities and opportunities.
So, has the industry awakened to its responsibilities or are we still stuck with ‘business as usual’?
For the most part, things haven’t changed all that much. However, because even fashion has found itself having to deal with both the financial and climate crises, there have been significant moves by several luxury brands towards a more sustainable future.
For example, PPR (formerly known as Gucci Group) are partnering with the UK government on the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap and has helped fund the film ‘Home’ about the negative impacts of climate change. Several major fashion companies, including Burberry, LVHM and Levi Strauss, are working to reduce their carbon footprint by a combination of offsetting schemes, changing product transportation methods, using organic cotton, reducing or eliminating plastic wrapping for deliveries and ‘greening’ their offices practices. Most fashion companies have also adopted voluntary codes of conduct that attempt to ensure that they are only involved with responsible labour practices.
Furthermore, several mainstream designers are starting to warm up to issues of sustainability and ethical production. Sergio Rossi has presented a sustainable shoe called the ‘Eco pump‘. Boucheron has instituted a code on responsible gold mining practices. Designers including Christian Lacroix, Giles Deacon, Zandra Rhodes and Luella Bartley have teamed up with the Environmental Justice Foundation by designing t-shirts to support their campaign to clean up cotton production.
This is merely a glimpse into how the luxury fashion industry is working to address its environmental and social performance. However, there is still a very long way to go in realising a more sustainable fashion future. Most importantly, companies need to be sure that their commitments and codes of conducts are being enforced, monitored and expanded. There also needs to be a continued and broadened dialogue amongst the industry about these critical issues.
Watch this excellent video about the ‘Deeper Luxury’ report, it includes several illuminating interviews. It is still extremely relevant and really gets to the heart of the issues. Check it out:
“The Luxury world cannot live in a bubble.”