Luxury fashion brands are going green

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele put on a whimsical, eclectic show for his first resort collection in June. Behind canada goose accessories uk the scenes, the company is focused on green production. (Richard Drew/AP)

Gucci is having a renaissance. After years in the doldrums, the 94 year old fashion house is again the star of glossy magazine spreads, its collections coveted by couture aficionados and celebrities, thanks to the eclectic runway shows masterminded by new creative director Alessandro Michele. Last month, its new boutique opened at CityCenterDC featuring storage units that resemble elegant steamer trunks and expansive tables designed to hold a trove of costly handbags. Lots of handbags. Because at its core, Gucci is an accessories label built on shoes and purses.

And that’s a problem. Not for the company’s canada goose shop new york city bottom line, but for the environment.

Shoes and handbags mostly depend on leather. And cattle ranching consumes mass quantities of natural resources from land to water. Traditional leather tanning uses heavy metals, most notably chromium, and the resulting waste is a health hazard. And PVC, another favored component in bag uk canada goose jackets making, is also an environmental contaminant.

Canada Goose sale So with little fanfare, this nearly $4 billion business has been making changes. The handbags namely the trendy $2,400 flower bedecked Dionysus shoulder bags stitched from the signature GG Supreme canvas print now use polyurethane in their design rather than PVC. Canada Goose sale

The Dionysus shoulder bag from Gucci. You wouldn’t know it, but the handbag is actually an example of green or sustainable fashion. But Gucci’s reluctance to make that shift evident let alone exciting or sexy for its consumers highlights the unsettled relationship between the luxury business and eco fashion.

canada goose store The quiet changes at Kering and LVMH are laudable, experts say. But with its rapt audience of tastemakers and innovators and its unique ability to create markets where none existed luxury could do so much more. canada goose store

cheap Canada Goose If top tier brands buffed, glossed and shared the story of how they responsibly manufacture products, they could canada goose outlet store uk even make eco friendly as covetable as a designer logo and transform the culture’s entire view of manufacturing that is good for the environment. cheap Canada Goose

More than 150 world leaders are meeting in fashionable Paris for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada Goose Parka Paris ground zero for luxury fashion is serving as host to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Kering executives are sitting on multiple panels, while LVMH, a corporate sponsor of the conference, is firing off email blasts to its employees on “green” lessons learned. Canada Goose Parka

“Sustainability” maintaining a diverse bio system while eliminating waste and pollution and decreasing energy consumption is a hot topic in fashion, from Seventh Avenue to Europe. But it poses conundrums. Is it better for a Paris based fashion company to use virgin paper produced in canada goose outlet eu France for its runway show invitations? Or recycled paper from China? Can they just skip the fancy card stock and send evites?

Canada Goose Coats On Sale Fashion schools are working a keener understanding of carbon footprints into their curriculums. There are green fashion contests challenging designers to make clothes that are both red carpet glamourous and good for the planet. Countless brands now declare themselves eco friendly, which can mean anything from using organic cotton in T shirts to using solar power to heat their headquarters. Most are sportswear labels that lead with their self declared “green” credentials rather than aesthetics; or hardy activewear companies, such as Patagonia, which offer handbooks for repairing instead of replacing damaged clothes. Canada Goose Coats On Sale

canada goose factory sale But on the whole, green fashion is typically seen as “other.” canada goose factory sale

canadian goose jacket At the top of the fashion pyramid sit the luxury brands. In grand corporate offices, their executives speak of carbon credits, “cradle to cradle” supply chains and the exigency of preserving natural capital the extravagant raw materials such as unmarred leather hides and long fiber cotton on which their products rely. canadian goose jacket

cheap canada goose uk These companies have natural eco advantages over their mass market rivals. They control more of their supply chain, such as tanneries. They have the resources to develop new production techniques. They tout the heirloom nature of their products, not their disposability. And their customers are less price sensitive: Who’s counting pennies when spending thousands canada goose outlet in toronto of dollars on a handbag? cheap canada goose uk

“I honestly think the brands are doing what they’re doing because they think it’s good business” a way to preserve the quality of the natural resources they rely upon, says Gemma Cranston, of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, which has worked with Kering and Hugo Boss. “They just see it as a step they now need to take to continue to produce high quality garments.”

Kering has started canada goose outlet houston quantifying the environmental impact of canada goose black friday 2019 its products. This chart estimates the amount of land and water used and the amount of carbon emissions required to produce the silk, wool and wood for one designer dress, and assigns a Euro value for each factor. (Kering/Courtesy of Kering from its 2014 Environmental Profit and Loss Report)

The Paris based LVMH, which controls Louis Vuitton, Cline, Givenchy, Christian Dior and Fendi, among other luxury brands, began to focus on sustainable business practices in 1992 in its wine and spirits division. This fall, LVMH announced the creation of a carbon fund that each brand pays into based on its energy consumption. The approximately $5.3 million fund supports projects such as upgrades from traditional lighting to LED.

uk canada goose In June, Kering released its first Environmental Profit and Loss canada goose manchester uk Report, examining where in its chain of more than 1,000 suppliers in 126 countries lurk the largest and gravest impacts on the environment. Looking at all its labels from the silk T shirts and motorcycle jackets of Saint Laurent to the sports gear of Puma Kering measured water consumption, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and land use. It then translated these findings into euros to estimate how much the production of, say, a single leather handbag costs the environment: 11.85 euros last year, or about $12.53. uk canada goose

In 2013, Kering’s luxury goods canada goose outlet canada cost the environment about $817 million. (A similar conglomerate, operating without environmental restraint, would have put a strain of $1.2 billion on the planet, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.) In 2014, that environmental canada goose outlet cost ticked upwards by 2.2 percent to $838 million while revenue grew by 4.5 percent.

In this chart, Kering estimates the land and water usage and carbon emissions associated with producing the leather, brass and linen for one handbag. (Kering/Courtesy Kering, from the 2014 Environmental Profit and Loss Report)

Kering posted this data online so other manufacturers could learn from their lessons. “When you are speaking about sustainability, if you keep it all for you, you won’t change the paradigm,” says Marie Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer.

The Kering report also revealed that only seven percent of the company’s environmental impact was at its boutiques, headquarters and warehouses. Fifty percent came from the production of raw materials. And 25 percent was from processing those materials. The most significant impact included the greenhouse gases from cattle ranching and the land and water dedicated to traditional sheep farming. Kering and LVMH, for example, are moving away from traditional tanning methods that use chromium.

canada goose uk shop But bright candy colors typically cannot be produced without using heavy metals, says Sylvie Bnard, corporate environment director at LVMH. There’s also a concern with color stability. A customer can’t get caught in a rainstorm and find her handbag dripping dye onto her cashmere trousers. Gucci developed an organic tanning technique and in 2013, began using it to produce special order, bamboo handled bags. Louis Vuitton’s Gaia Monogram Cerise handbags now use vegetable tanned leather. canada goose uk shop

The Gaia handbag from Louis Vuitton an example of handbags that are “green” or a part of “sustainable fashion.” (Louis Vuitton).