Gabriela Hearst’s belief: yes to leather, no to veg marketing

Il credo di Gabriela Hearst: sì alla pelle, no al marketing veg

Between sustainability and finance, Gabriela Hearst chose the former. And she has immolated herself, so to speak. To increase Chloé’s revenues, she would have had to “soften” her positions, considered too intransigent in the face of “green”. Like the one concerning the outright refusal to use so-called vegan materials. “The idea that vegan shoes are helping the environment is just good marketing”, the Uruguayan designer repeated last March. Who, by geography and culture, is well acquainted with the leather industry. Hearst is considered one of the most driven designers in the fashion world from the point of view of ethics and sustainability. But her adventure at Chloé has told us that, at present, a big brand cannot demand both sustainability and revenue. It has to choose: either one or the other.

Gabriela Hearst’s belief

Today “environmental profits” and corporate profits do not go together, especially for a brand of significant size. Even more so, if it is part of a large conglomerate. “I never think about trends. If I come across a trend, it is by pure chance. Quality is everything. People ask me why my clothes cost so much. It is because the material and the workmanship will last a lifetime and beyond”, she said in an interview to the Guardian.

Yes to leather, no to veg marketing

The materials used to make Chloé products have always been carefully selected. Leather included. Hearst has always preferred to use leather waste rather than alternative materials. In other words: she has rejected the view that, if you want to respect the environment, it is better to prefer vegan materials. “As long as we eat meat, leather is a by-product of it”, she said. “So, it’s a good material to use. When I go home to my ranch in Uruguay they ask me: what’s going on in the North? They must be burning leather, because people prefer to wear polyester. The idea that vegan shoes are helping the environment is just good marketing”. As for sourcing leather, the designer was quite scrupulous, assessing its traceability and proper processing.

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