Here’s how leading luxury brands integrate sustainability with fashion

How the world’s luxury brands are changing the world of fashion, one sustainable step at a time.
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After launching a responsibility agenda in 2017, Burberry was named the leading luxury brand in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index the following year. Part of their initiative was to partner up with sustainable company Elvis & Kresse, turning 120 tonnes of leather off-cuts into sellable products.

Under the creative stewardship of Riccardo Tisci, the brand also launched a sustainable capsule collection in 2019, with a range of products made from ECONYL. The brand has also worked with company 37.5, using volcanic sand and waste coconut shells in thermoregulation technology for quilted jackets.

Like Gucci, their S/S ’20 show was also certified carbon neutral, with all GHG emissions offset through Verified Carbon Standard- certified REDD+ projects, which prevent deforestation and aid the conservation of rainforests in the Amazon.

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Gucci has been making remarkable strides in sustainable measures since 2015, when the company publicly committed to a 10-year sustainability strategy which included its intention to halve Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2025.

In September last year, the company was announced as entirely carbon neutral within its operations and supply chain, making initiatives that allowed them to avoid approximately 440,125 tons of CO2 in 2018 via four critically important REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia.

Their S/S ’20 show in Milan was also a certified sustainable event: FSC paper invites; 70% of rented and reusable materials used for the setup; and 2,000 trees planted in the Milan municipality to compensate for all emissions connected to the event.

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Salvatore Ferragamo has been preparing its Corporate Sustainability Report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative since 2014. Interesting endeavours to date include a 2016 womenswear capsule collection made in collaboration with Orange Fiber, a start-up which turns citrus fruit scraps into fabric.

In 2018, they unveiled the 100-pair limited-edition Rainbow Future—a redux of Judy Garland’s iconic Rainbow sandal—made from veritable wood, organic crocheted cotton and leather lining finished with no CO2 emissions or water consumption. Every shoe is linked to an orange tree fostered by Treedom, a Florentine firm specialising in agro-forestry projects and CO2 compensation.

For 2020, Ferragamo has committed to safeguarding the environment in alignment with the principles of ISO 14064 certification (Organisation Carbon Footprint) by pledging to calculate the carbon footprint of its events and sponsoring carbon-offsetting initiatives throughout the year.

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In order to give back to the industry and as a wonderful way to foster young creative talent, Alexander McQueen has devised a scheme to redirect surplus house fabrics for students at fashion colleges in the UK. “I was so lucky because when I first worked at McQueen, Lee helped me source fabrics for my final collection,” says Sarah Burton, the brand’s creative director. “It’s even harder today, and at a time when we feel all precious resources must be used.”

Steven Stokey-Daley, a recent graduate of Fashion/Apparel Design (BA) at the University of Westminster incorporated a selection of these fabrics for coats in his final collection. Pictured is the Ryder tennis coat in slubbed wool and the Flyte dressing gown made up of 120 panels in three different silks, both coats are named after the protagonists in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

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What to do with wanton fashion waste? Pascale Mussard, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès, dreamt up a rather good solution: petit h allows the house’s artisans to let loose their creative flair by using excess material and off-cuts to conjure a plethora of collectable items. They range from the practical such as a teacup fashioned into a candleholder to the wonderfully whimsy including toy boats with silken sails or a soft toy made from mink fur and crocodile leather.

Today, the studio is led by Godefroy de Virieu, who oversees partnerships with external designers working alongside the nine in-house craftsmen to turn fantasy into reality. Petit h creations are sold at special pop-ups in the brand’s boutiques around the world, with the most recent hitting Moscow this past March.

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In partnership with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Prada’s has introduced an education program to raise awareness amongst younger generations on being mindful and responsible of the ocean and its resources.

Over four months, high school teachers from selected cities globally will be coached via webinars to create an educational module dedicated to the themes of sustainability and oceanic preservation. It culminates in a campaign created by their students, with the winner’s campaign exhibited at the second United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon this year.

This follows the launch of Re-Nylon, a capsule collection of iconic Prada silhouettes using ECONYL—a regenerated nylon made from plastic waste collected from oceans which Prada aims to replace all virgin nylon with by 2021. Part of the proceeds from these sales will be donated to IOC/UNESCO.

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