When luxury brands engage: a sustainable revolution?

This is a recap of Le Monde article about the conference where we participated called : When luxury brands engage: a sustainable revolution?

Return on the event organized by M Publicité with Leherpeur Paris on November 20, 2018 at the Maison des Centraliens. This collaboration is the second part of the Luxury Dating and follows the subject of the explosion of beauty canons.

In what world do we live?
A step back, that’s what luxury seems to need. Listening to Olivier Saillard, historian of fashion, former director of Palais Galliera and now artistic director at J.M. Weston, environmental issues and more particularly sustainability have just emerged in major houses.

And for good reason, fashion appears to be on the brink of asphyxiation as its production pace has accelerated in recent years, says Bénédicte Fabien, Director Strategy & Consulting at LeherpeurParis. With 4 million tons of textile waste each year, the sector is now responsible for 3 to 10% of global carbon emissions.

Le Monde Photo – Olivier Saillard

“There is a little sartorial pollution, I dare say the word,” says Olivier Saillard recalling the material and human balance of each fashion week: 382 parades for 13,845 silhouettes. Teaching virtue will not only go down in his opinion by a drop in production, but also by the decline in sales.

Today engines of luxury growth, millenials seem to go in this direction. Close to their values ​​and the meaning of their actions, they push brands to react. Ethics is now a matter of concern: attests to the proliferation of projects promoting the use of environmentally friendly materials.

Green-washing or real awareness? In all cases, luxury questions its social role, its image and therefore its identity.

Leave a lasting trace
Since its beginnings, fashion has magnified nature. She puts it forward, deflects it, sublimates it. The ecological imperative has allowed her to understand the negative impact it has on her, fashion has responded in many ways.

Commitment on the rejection of dangerous chemicals, implementation of tools measuring the environmental impact of a brand, use of alternative materials, banishing of the fur, defense of protected species … Behind these actions largely put forward by the luxury industry, a different reality emerges, more complex to tackle and put in place.

“My tug began in 2014, realizing that durable, breathable materials were not easy to find.” Behind this sentence of Amélie Pichard, creator and founder of the eponymous brand, we perceive the difficulty for a brand to approach an ecological logic as the supply of raw material is still very low. “It’s often said that ethical fashion is ugly. It is not ugly but remains quite basic because the technical means of production are very limited “adds Alix Morabito, fashion director at Galeries Lafayette.

Behind the strong demand of consumers, the supply barely needs to adapt. “A lot of the industry is not yet empowered. It’s starting a story. We are launching a new consumer movement, “she adds, highlighting Go For Good, an initiative that aims to promote responsible brands within her company.

Naturally close to its traditions, luxury advances step by step. Sylvie Bénard, Environmental Director of the LVMH Group for 26 years, confirms it: “There is little resistance internally. In fashion, the major limit remains the relation to time: we are obsessed by rhythm. It is sometimes difficult to make a creator hear that you have to change your habits in terms of raw materials. ” Learning to master the language of its interlocutors, this is according to her one of the major stakes of her job.

In a world that is changing faster than ever before, luxury is confronted with problems that it must quickly seize at the risk of collapsing. “Today the big gap between tradition and innovation is still present as these two values ​​should meet,” decrypts Amelie Pichard, synthesizing a major challenge facing luxury.

Putting people back at the center of creation
“Be careful not to arrive at the paradox of sustainable ecological fashion but without human” warns Clarisse Reille, CEO of DEFI La Mode de France. And indeed, behind the environmental role that luxury must bear lies that of the social.

This challenge is that of the new generations, driven by their icons who are now real mouthpieces of luxury brands, analysis Bénédicte Fabien. A more humane, respectful of differences and inclusive fashion, this is a strong evolution within the sector that we find especially through the opening of major brands to diversity.

Respect for the human, a commitment that must also be taken seriously internally. “We need to put the blossoming back in the center of Maslow’s pyramid and one of the levers to achieve that is training,” says Laura Brown, founder of the Phoenix. In question, the lack of commitment of managers who slow down the will to change.

It is therefore through human and social values that luxury must differentiate today. “A product resulting from an elaborate and successful process of creation has a lasting value in itself” adds Olivier Saillard, associating the added value of a product respectful of the human and the environment to the sustainability of its employment. A topic taken up by Pascal Gautrand, founder of Made In Town, presenting his project Tricolor which encourages the rebirth of the French wool industry.

Generation Z, a demanding population drowned in the flow of information
To conclude this event were invited Raphaëlle Bellanger and Anna Gardere, founders of KIDZ Paris. Highly aware of environmental issues, their generation would nevertheless encounter many difficulties in learning about the concrete actions of brands.

Extremely digitized, they attest to being lost in the huge amount of information they receive each day via their smartphones. Not seeking to find this information by their own means, they testify to a certain form of hypocrisy which according to them is commonplace.

Strongly receptive to the codes of communication, Generation Z wants to feel as close to the brands that she loves. To dream, to gather its communities around strong values, to share what was once private, these are the stakes of luxury brands to please this generation.

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