Can luxury really be sustainable?

07 March 2022

The change of trajectory of the luxury giants.

Image by Jacquemus

While sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in the fashion industry in general, more specifically in the luxury industry consumers wonder whether the race is slower and whether luxury and sustainability are two concepts that can go along.

If the most prestigious brands are often associated with the concepts of waste, indulgence and excess, as well as wealth and social status, the values of sustainability are antithetical. The latter in fact reflect social justice, the link with nature, respect for the territory and are the standard-bearers of a real fight against excess.

According to some studies, the luxury sector lags behind other industries in terms of sustainable commitment. However, the creation of luxury goods has traditionally been based on concepts such as high quality, superior durability and deeper value, which together form the perfect basis for designing and marketing items that retain core social and environmental values.

Companies in this sector need to adapt their definition of excellence, no longer associated with high glamour, but related to positive engagement and deeper values. Moreover, a sustainable development can provide a unique opportunity to embrace innovation and increase one's competitiveness in the marketplace.

So, is the luxury industry really getting a sustainable approach?

It seems like some wheels are in motion. Big players in the luxury industry are increasingly adopting ethical practices and sustainable policies. From Kering to LVMH these international cornerstones are creating a real sustainable path to travel. In addition to working to reduce their carbon footprint and implement new processes to safeguard the planet, they are also creating initiatives that support those most at risk and improve conditions for workers.

Recently, we can see how even individual large luxury labels are working in a sustainable direction. Louis Vuitton has just launched Felt Line, the first collection of sustainable male accessories featuring organic cotton, recycled wool-based jacquard and 100% recycled polyester from recycled plastic. Burberry has a goal to become climate positive by 2040 and has invested in a number of supply chain initiatives, but most importantly in reducing emissions by 46% by 2030.

Re-Nylon is the new pioneering project of Prada in collaboration with Aquafil for the production of a new material: ECONYL, a regenerated nylon yarn. Prada Group's commitment focuses on its brand DNA, nylon, a distinctive sign that has defined the history of the Italian brand. On the other hand, Gucci has announced its “Culture of Purpose” sustainability strategy, which includes a series of goals to be achieved by 2025 in order to generate positive change for people and the planet.

According to the Circular Fashion Index 2020 Burberry, Gucci and Prada are the most circularity-conscious luxury brands. This is just to name a few, but is the proof that the luxury industry is moving en masse to integrate a sustainable approach.

Luxury and sustainability seem to play at opposite poles of the market, but in reality, they are two sides of the same coin.

This article has been written by SBP creative team.

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