They have achieved some goals, while aiming at further accomplishments: luxury may well strive to support sustainability. No need to rule out any materials deriving from animals, nor to give in before meaningless slogans, but rather pursuing a scientific method. Such is the firm opinion of Bernard Arnault, president of LVMH, who welcomed at his Paris headquarters, on September 25, the chief executive officers of the luxury group he is leading. During the meeting, they focused their attention on the work-in-progress of LIFE (LVMH Initiative for the Environment), a project, launched in 2012, to foster, in the group’s fashion houses, the implementation of new tools for the environment and its issues.
Leather, exotic leather and fur
LIFE actions are supposed to tackle four different areas: products, supply, emissions and manufacturing plants. With regard to animal materials, such as leather, exotic leather and fur (but also vicuna, wool and feathers), the aim of LVMH is to safeguard the value chain, therefore making sure that provisions are reliable. Looking at what they have already done, by the end of 2019 the French group will have bought 70% of hides and skins from certified tanneries; on top of that, by the end of 2025 100% of the animal materials they make use of will be compliant with required traceability standards. “We speak it out: we keep working with hides, furs and exotic leather – announced Antoine Arnault, Bernard’s son, as reported by Fashion Network –. We must preserve such valuable expertise, and we must do it in accordance with fairness and transparency. Even though each group’s company is going to make its own choice, we have to be realistic: since customers will keep buying these products, we want to provide them with quality items, manufactured as ethically as possible”.
Many people believe that removing fur or exotic leather (CHANEL, for instance) is bound to be the most effective solution. Conversely, LVMH reply by outlining another industrial model. “We contributed to restock American alligators, and we are very proud of that”, commented Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton president and chief executive officer, and subsequently reported by WWD. “Luxury can reverse such negative direction – emphasized Daniel Natush, biologist at IUCN Institute for Conservation, while speaking to MFF – and LVMH are showing the path”. What about Stella McCartney, who joined the initiative, known for her radical position in favour of fashion without animal products? LVMH is a liberal group: everybody will be able to find his own solution while sharing space with other stances.
The stone guest
Let us make it clear immediately: it is the Fashion Pact. During the event held in Paris, they did not talk about one topic, which was lingering around though: namely, the agreement for the environment, supported by President Macron, and sponsored by Kering group, LVMH opponents. Every now and again, they had more than a dig at their rivals. For example, while still talking to Fashion Network, Antoine Arnault stressed the fact that LVMH are a luxury group, not a fashion one, therefore it would not make sense to participate in any initiatives focused otherwise. Furthermore, Bernard Arnault claimed, once again, that items presented and sold by the group’s fashion houses essentially rely on durability: “This is already a sensible reply to fast fashion wastefulness”. One more thing is important enough to be noticed: some brands, such as H&M, joined the Fashion Pact.
The LIFE project is not just about raw materials. LVMH also want energy, coming from renewable sources, to account for 30% in 2020; moreover, they proudly carried out a valuable achievement regarding emissions, as they reduced them by 25%. Method is the most important value in the group: we can strive for sustainability “without trusting in fleeting and short-lived ideologies – wrapped up Bernard Arnault – but rather relying on scientific research, which is the only functional method to set and direct our environmental strategy”.
In the picture, taken from lvmh.com, the participants in Paris event