There’s no greater gift than thinking that you had some impact on the world, for the better.
In today’s word, the meaning of luxury in fashion has evolved from serving to distinguish social status to involving exclusivity, being timeless, offering impeccable craftsmanship and last but not least use of sustainable practices. Ethical luxury fashion brands are being mindful of this shift and the dynamics of these social-cultural changes. Whether private or public, the consumers and investors evaluate and form an opinion on the fashion brands based on their ethical sourcing to production, and their balanced, diversified and fair governance. The truth is that the informed and connected stakeholders care about our planet and definitely, this is not a fad! They have the power to boycott a brand, and unquestionably they care about their future. These standards echo the sentiment of the 21st century.
The mindfulness of modern society has influenced the creators and investors to reconsider the factors of evaluation and profit. The common thread for all is sustainability. Clearly, the short-term profitability is important still, staying the darling of the luxury aficionados community is about masterminding sustainable policies and directions. Introducing quality products that benefit everyone including the whole supply chain and our planet’s natural resources must be the grand title of their brand strategy.
The conscious luxury brands such as Gabriela Hearst, a New York-based fashion designer has proven that her investment in ethical sourcing and the use of environmentally friendly materials in her collections are beneficial for her clientele, business and our planet. Her conviction that sustainability is necessary for high luxury fashion is apparent in every stage of her fashion sphere. Manos del Uruguay, a 50-year-old nonprofit that empowers rural women, manufactures Hearst’s fluffy cashmere. Or creating bags to raise funds for Save the Children’s relief efforts in the drought-stricken Turkana region of Kenya. Her philosophy to conserve and repurpose or that quality outshines quantity, “I tell people to buy one good thing of quality, not five cheap things”, is admirable in an industry that flourishes on desirability and consumption.
Baume & Mercier’s, one of Richemont’s eight watch brands, shares the same value and vision of the mindful consumers. Their commitment to the ethical use of natural sources such as diamond and gold, leathers that respect the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and their partnership with NGO 1001 Fontaines & College Champittet to provide access to drinking water in Cambodia, represents this century’s mindset.
According to McKinsey & Company, 70 per cent of consumers are willing to pay some premium for items produced sustainably, based on responses of 90 department store buyers in 25 countries responsible for 50 billion euros in the annual purchase. These figures strongly suggest that investing in sustainable technology to produce quality while helping local communities to thrive from their work will be rewarding for all concerned. This approach supported with government policies will satisfy the expectations of the subconscious desires and excitement of the consumption, and the result will quench the investor’s appetite.
The customer’s concern over environmental waste, human rights violations or wrongdoings, has impelled the investors to care about the true nature of impacts of luxury brands whether in local communities around the world, within their workforce in bustling cities or on nature since these positions determine the outcome for shareholders.
In 2018, Burberry was named the leading luxury brand in Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The British heritage label explored and implemented socially and environmentally responsible practices from investing in the communities to taking measures to partner with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse to turn 120 tonnes of wasted leather offcuts into saleable products. It has also obtained 48 per cent of its total energy from renewable sources, an increase of 24 per cent from the previous year.
Empowering marginalized communities and protecting the planet drive innovation and fosters growth for all inhabitants on earth. It takes courage and moral judgement to initiate positive impact and bring together socially driven enterprises and investors to launch and scale these ventures. The luxury brands together with social investing funds are responsible to take action and be transparent vis a vis their sustainability initiatives. At the same time, consumers need to start re-thinking their purchasing habits and embody socially-good causes into their decision making. Cultivating the belief that style is a reflection of our attitude, which can be used to make a positive impact and not just an impression, is effortlessly sophisticated.