It’s no secret that fashion is the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly industry, from its use of over 1,000 different types of chemicals in textile production to the waste of water – c t is an industry with a lot to answer for when it comes to the well-being of the earth. Each year, more than 100 billion items are produced worldwide, and 3 out of 5 of these items end up in landfills within 12 months of production.
According to the United Nations, fashion is the second most polluted industry in the world, as well as the main source of exploitation of workers worldwide. And while these are startling statistics, the fashion industry has been working hard to turn the tide. Luxury men’s and women’s fashion brands strive to produce collections that are not only environmentally friendly, but also sustainable.
In 2019, at the G7 conference in Biarritz, France, twenty-four new fashion and textile companies signed the fashion pact, bringing the total number of signatory companies to 56, representing 250 brands. Brands and companies include Burberry, Chanel, Chloe, Ermengildo Zenga, Farfetch and Ralph Lauren to name a few. This is an unprecedented project where luxury brands show their commitment to sustainability in the areas of climate, biodiversity and ocean protection. And a year later, all signatories have reported on their sustainable and environmentally friendly progress.
Because fashion brands are purveyors of creativity that drive fashion and design, it is their job as ethical businesses to sell sustainable fashion to their customers. Although they may not be at the top of fashion sustainability indexes, Loro Piana, Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Valentino, Chanel and Salvatore Ferragamo strive to be sustainable luxury fashion brands with every collection. that they produce:
the Loro Piana family began as Italian wool merchants in northern Italy in the early 19and century. Today, the LVMH-owned brand specializes in luxury cashmere and high-end wool products worldwide. Sustainability has been a key topic for the company and will create a program that will allow customers to follow the production steps of its baby cashmere sweaters from start to finish. In 2019, the company included a tag on garments that allowed customers to see where their knits came from.
And also, in 2019, the label teamed up with legendary French Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, Luc Jacquet. Together, film and fashion have created a documentary series about the stories surrounding materials harvested from the natural environments of Mongolia’s Alashan region, one of the key places to source cashmere. The partnership shows Loro Piana’s commitments to sustainability and the ecological production of the purest fibers in the world. Jacquet and his film crew traveled to the Alashan Desert to film goat herders, who for generations have worked in some of the harshest landscapes on Earth.
And this year, Roman luxury house Valentino took a step in the direction of sustainability by launching new packaging that was made available to shoppers in November. The embossed red logo on the white tote is made from 55% recycled paper. The boxes with the VLogo signature come from sustainably managed forests. In the house notes: “Small imperfections will be part of the nature of the recycled concept and will represent the House’s attention to authenticity.” The house has even gone so far as to offer a 100% recycled ribbon, the white ribbon with the ton sur ton log which comes in three different sizes.
And Chanel is not far because they have put a sustainable vegetable cap on their perfume bottles with the aim of having recyclable packaging. The biodegradable cap created by the Finnish company Sulapac Oy is made of 91% vegetable materials while maintaining an eye-catching look.
Maria Grazia Churri is aware of her responsibility for sustainable development as a Dior’s Creative director. We saw it in Dior’s SS20 runway collection, made from eco-friendly fabrics and processes. “The Dior brand is a couture brand and our goal is to create timeless and enduring pieces,” she said. “Fashion is something that speaks to the future through innovation, and we have to find the balance between all of these elements and the only way to find the balance is to talk to people who have more knowledge in areas that we do not know.
“Luxury customers are increasingly aware of the social and environmental issues facing the fashion industry,” says Tunisian entrepreneur Hasna Kourda. She and her business partner, Mehdi Doghri, are bringing attention to fashion matching with, Save Your Wardrobe, an app that helps people be more fashion-conscious.
“Luxury retail customers are using their purchasing power to buy the values they want to see in brands so much so that Net-a-Porter released Netsustain and Farfetch announced in April 2019, Positively Farfetch,” muses. she. “These initiatives from luxury retail leaders show how important it has become to put sustainability at the top of the agenda when creating collections.”
Alongside the Positively campaign, Farfetch has dedicated its second Dream Assembly cohort entirely focused on sustainable solutions. Powered by the fourth industrial revolution and new technologies, these disruptive innovations are bringing new circular business models for brands and retailers and paving the way for the decade to come.
Sustainability is not a new concept for Ermengildo Zenga, which just went public on the New York Stock Exchange. It has always been at the heart of the Ermenegildo Zenga Group’s mission since the beginning, when its founder, Ermenegildo conceived the company in 1910 in Trivero, Italy. Last year, the company’s CEO, Gildo Zegna, said: “From the very beginning, our family business has been guided by a sustainable approach and has a longstanding commitment to the environment and the community. Zegna’s global mission is deeply rooted in the pioneering vision of founder Ermenegildo, who first understood the importance of growing the brand, respecting nature and enhancing sustainable projects. With the #USETHEEXISTING project (under the direction of the house’s artistic director Alessandro Sartori), Zegna today reinforces its commitment to sustainable travel that has lasted since 1910.”
Sartori’s #USETHEEXISTING project marks the brand’s commitment to improving the use of wool and technical fabrics from pre-existing sources. By avoiding pre-existing sources and using innovative processes, and opting to use recycled materials like plastic bottles and bamboo fibers, the brand strives to maintain its founder’s values of sustainability.
Salvatore Ferragamo was another inspiring Italian designer and a man before his time. Its use of natural, recycled and innovative materials was revolutionary and today the Florentine brand continues to experiment with environmentally friendly materials and techniques. A few years ago, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in the heart of Florence had an entire exhibit dedicated to sustainability.
Because these brands strive to honor people, wildlife and nature by investing in sustainability projects. At the dawn of a new decade, international initiatives such as the fashion pact, as well as awareness of how luxury brands can improve their sustainable efforts will hopefully not just be lip service, but a brand lifestyle. Here comes 2022 and what progress fashion will make to continue its ecological advances.