Luxury Giants Getting Greener
The manufacturers and suppliers of luxury goods have never been under more pressure to show their green credentials.
The 21st-century shopper wants to know, more than at any time in the past, where the goods they want come from. Most importantly, if they are manufactured with little impact on the environment and the creatures we share the planet with. It is no longer enough to produce something beautiful that people want to own, especially if the cost to wildlife and the world around us is too high.
Sustainability, social responsibility and protecting the environment have become important factors in how and where people spend their money. And people power has been having a significant impact on everything we buy and use.
By definition, luxury goods are produced in small numbers and are expensive to make and to purchase, thereby limiting their access to a small number of people. These purchasers need to buy with full confidence that they will not be publicly castigated when they appear in public with their diamonds, handbags and raincoats or drink their champagne made from unsustainable resources.
Diamonds are always a girl’s best friend, unless they happen to be blood or ‘conflict’ diamonds which are illegally traded to fund conflicts in central and west Africa by forces opposed to legitimate governments. Thanks to the Kimberly Process Certifications System, 99 per cent of diamonds are now supplied from conflict-free sources. But no one wants to find themselves in the embarrassing position of wearing a sparkler from the one per cent that got away.
Burberry, the British fashion house, is upfront about its green credentials which can be checked out on its website by anyone who wants to know. The company says it is reducing its packaging and chemical use, as well as the amount of PVC used in its goods. It has invested in sustainable cotton farming in Peru, switched to solar power and is working with the World Wildlife Fund to manage the amount of water used in its manufacturing processes.
In 2010, Gucci, once voted the world’s most luxurious brand, launched a worldwide eco-friendly programme to reduce its impact on the environment. From sustainability to philanthropy, the company says it is committed to its role in the global community.
Reputation is everything in the luxury goods market. A company’s good name is worth more than any of the valuable products they sell. Without it, they become less desirable and will soon go out of business.
That is why they must all be able to prove their claims and never be accused of ‘green-washing’ – making statements about their environmental credentials but with no hard facts to back them up. No company, however large or small, luxurious or everyday, is exempt from the spotlight shone upon them in the global news environment in which we live today. Any company making false claims will soon be exposed.
Designer goods have never been more popular with the under-30 age group, and this is the group which is most aware of environmental issues. In order to secure their futures, luxury-goods
manufacturers must find the balance between continuing to supply exceptional products and being kind to the environment.