Luxury brands usually go hand-in-hand with items that are hard to obtain, rather than how sustainable or ecologically sound the products are. WWF has released a new report on what defines luxury, with an attempt to take some of the limelight off the status of a product, while adding more value in terms of how small the impact of the product is on the environment.
Deeper Luxury defines authentic luxury brands as “those that provide the greatest positive contribution to all affected by their creation and that identify their consumers as having the means and motivation to respect both people and planet”.
Vivienne Westwood is one designer who is attempting to be in-tune with that thinking. In an interview, she encouraged customers to “choose well and buy less” in an effort to add eco-conscious behavior to purchases and choices. She has launched a collection of upcycled bags and iPad cases, together with the World Trade Organisation and United Nations, creating jobs for impoverished African women.
Fortunately, more designers are joining these efforts and eliminating waste by upcycling excess materials and turning them into luxury items. Elvis & Kresse create high-end bags, belts, wallets and cases from decommissioned fire brigade hoses that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Half of the profit from this line is donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.
Vivienne Westwood and Elvis & Kresse are two examples of “positive luxury,” taking social and environmental impacts into account.
This is slowly becoming more of a trend, especially now that PPR, who owns many luxury brands including Gucci, created a sustainability strategy. According to the CEO Francois-Henri Pinault, “my deep conviction that sustainability creates value is part of my strategic vision for PPR. Sustainability can – and must – give rise to new, highly ambitious business models and become a lever of competitiveness for our brands.”
While many people know you shouldn’t have to compromise sustainability for the sake of style, it is good to see that more designers are understanding this as well. It’s moved further than boycotting fur or leather, and advanced into understanding how much is wasted in the fashion industry each year, and thinking more about how products are made.
Image CC licensed by Raphaël Labbé