What These Luxury Brands Can Teach the Fashion Industry About Sustainability

What These Luxury Brands Can Teach the Fashion Industry About Sustainability

Yes I know, most of us mere mortals can’t afford to shop at high-end designer shops, but maybe we should be following what they are doing? Personally, I’ve never really taken an interest in luxury brands, besides a second-hand handbag from Gucci (best find from Vinnies). My interest however has recently peaked, due to some high-end designers spear heading eco innovation in the fashion industry.

“Global demand for luxury goods grew by five percent in the past year, with the sector valued at €223 billion.” –Carbon Trust, 2017

There are multiple reasons why high-end brands focusing on the environment is important. Firstly, the high-end designer market make up a significant amount of the fashion industry, including its disgustingly large carbon footprint (*ahem* Burberry burnt £28 million worth of stock last year). It also has a large and expanding audience, that will rock the sh*t out of eco garments. Fast-fashion brands also copy everything from luxury fashion, hopefully this means adopting eco ideas. Check out the below luxury brands at the top of the eco innovation game.

[Note: If you want to buy luxury but can’t afford it first hand, purchase it on second-hand sites like Vestiaire Collective, eBay or rent from sites like Rent the Runway (US) and Glam Corner (Australia)]

Stella McCartney – Collaborative Innovation

The Queen of sustainable luxury fashion – Stella McCartney. If there’s one thing that Stella McCartney’s brand can teach the fashion world about eco innovation, it’s collaboration. The brand recently announced a partnership with Hunter Boots, producing 100% vegan boots made with no chemicals and no deforestation.

Credit: Stella McCartney.

The designer also recently took textile innovation into her own hands and partnered with Bolt Threads to produce new environmental and ethical fabrics such as Mylo (made from plants) and vegan silk (grown in a lab). It’s exciting to see a luxury fashion brand commit time and money to long-term sustainability and eco innovation.

Related Post: The Future Design Series: Fashion, Innovation and Technology

Vivienne Westwood – Fashion as Activism

Dame Vivienne Westwood – the woman who infuses activism and individualism into fashion (and my favourite designer). She is well known for her commitment to environmental activism and modern punk.

Vivienne Westwood’s runways are used to stage powerful protests and her shirts are basically activist signs. She has also produced several sustainability lines that gave back to communities via her partnership with Ethical Fashion Initiative. There has however been some criticism of the brand’s lack of transparency around supply chains and carbon emissions. It would be great to see this improved, to match Vivienne Westwood’s strong stance on climate change.

“I’m a fashion designer and activist. You all know what I’m up to, I use fashion as a vehicle for activism to stop climate change and mass extinction of life on earth.” –Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood book by Claire Wilcox. Credit: Allen & Unwin.

Gucci – Culture and Commitment

The globally famous luxury powerhouse has just announced that its going carbon neutral as part of a 10-year sustainability plan.

The plan brings together three pillars: the environment, people and innovation. The brand also just implemented Gucci Equilibrium, in which Gucci employees can dedicate 1% of working time volunteering in local communities. This is alongside its campaigns to support local communities such as “I was a Sari”, teaching local women the skills to upcycle saris.

‘A Culture of Purpose means that we can answer the expectations of our customers, our employees, our suppliers and everyone in the wider Gucci family. But, in order to have real purpose, you need to demonstrate that you have integrity. Integrity is what we value most at Gucci.’ –Gucci Equilibrium

Gucci Launches Equilibrium, New Online Platform to Showcase Its Sustainability Efforts
Gucci launches ‘Equilibrium’ the brand’s new online platform to showcase its sustainability efforts. Credit: Gucci Equilibrium.

Zero + Maria Cornerjo – Local

From the very beginning, New York-based luxury brand founded by Maria Cornerjo, was launched with a core focus on local manufacturing and responsible design. Around 84% of the label’s production is made in New York’s garment district, and the use of sustainable fabrics such as clean untreated natural fabrics and recycled eco cashmere yarn are also prominent.

The designer also has a long list of awards for her commitment to eco fashion and is a founding member of the Council Fashion Designers of Americas (CFDA)’s Sustainability Committee. Even Michelle Obama is a fan.

Related Post: Fashion Designer Mara Hoffman: “People Thought I Was Crazy… That I Was Walking Away From Money”

Zero + Maria Cornerjo Fall 2019 collection.

KitX – Closed Loop is Key

This Australian luxury brand was founded by fashion designer Kit Willow in 2014, with the aim of producing high-end garments sourced consciously and sustainably. Kit’s commitment to sustainable and conscious fashion, without compromising on design, results in sought after beautiful pieces in a closed loop. For example, the Global Nomad Trench is made with no toxic waste in a closed loop process, the fabric is biodegradable and recyclable and there’s even holders in the pockets for a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. The process has clearly been thought out every step of the way.

Global Nomad Trench via KITX.

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Feature image credit: Gucci.

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