Burke (LV) explains the difference between sustainability and greenwashing

Burke (LV) explains the difference between sustainability and greenwashing

There is a difference between sustainability and greenwashing. Michael Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton knows it well: “Luxury must go beyond the simple statements made by PR departments – he says to WWD -: it must strive to further necessary efforts, even if they are long-lasting and challenging”. The manager also points out clearly that “if we want to make impactful and lasting changes, then we must have shared methods to measure them. Otherwise, no progress will be made, and we will only have public relations statements”.

Sustainability and greenwashing

LV’s show during Paris’ Fashion Week was invaded by environmental protestors. According to Burke, “they were off in their content”. “It’s not what the general public may require of us first – he said regarding sustainability -, but rather it’s what makes our customers loyal to the brand, because they see our long-term efforts”. The brand’s objectives include the reduction of plastic use (from films used on pallets to protective plastic on metal accessories), the recycling of materials used for the shows, renewable energy, sourcing practices, led lighting and product design that takes into account the goods’ lifecycle.

Small details

Sustainaility in the small details as well. Mr. Burke cited the example of Nicolas Ghesquière, who joins plywood with screws rather than glue when creating settings for shows. Moreover, LV’s CEO condemned fast delivery practices that e-tailers implement: “Same-day deliveries everywhere in the world would be a disaster for the environment”. Vuitton, meanwhile, has reorganized its labs so that artisans may work on the products according to the market’s demand. This way, the amount of unsold stock is lower.


“Today we launch products in reduced amount and produce only when we know we have the demand to support it – says the manager -. This requires great flexibility and agility across the organization”. In the last 5 years, says the CEO, requests to restore items have increased 20%. Vuitton has 11 dedicated labs all around the world where about 500,000 handbags to through every year.

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