HomeLifestyleSustainability and Social Responsibility: 10 Luxury Brands That Are Making a Difference

Sustainability and Social Responsibility: 10 Luxury Brands That Are Making a Difference

The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of the carbon emissions worldwide. That’s as much as what France, Germany, and the UK combined create every year, according to a study by MacArthur Foundation.

Also, fashion is not just about air pollution. The study found that 20% of the dirty water worldwide comes from making clothes. Plus, almost none of the clothes we throw away are recycled—they end up in dumps.

Despite this, there’s hope. Over 160 brands have joined The Fashion Pact, aiming to cut their carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and give back to society. 

But what are the top fashion names doing specifically to make the industry less harmful to the planet? Let’s look at 10 of them.

Stella McCartney 

Stella McCartney is a leading figure in ethical and sustainable fashion. Her brand is the first luxury fashion house to never use animal leather, feathers, fur, or skins. In 2006, sustainability became a core principle for the brand.

As a special adviser to LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault on sustainability, McCartney also influences industry giants to focus on eco-friendly practices. She also aims to achieve net zero by 2040.

The brand’s collections use responsibly sourced materials like organic cotton and upcycled faux furs. It also opts for smart alternatives like biodegradable rubber and mushroom-based leather.

Recycling is crucial to the brand’s sustainability efforts, with products like the mono-material parka made from 100% regenerated nylon.

Hermes

Established in 1837, Paris-based Hermès is renowned for its iconic Birkin bag and silk scarves. The brand has always had artisanal values, with 60% of its products crafted in-house. 

It relies on circularity principles and uses materials like mycelium. Plus, they offer repair services and upcycling through Petit H. 

In 2022, over 200,000 Hermes products were restored. Over three-quarters of items are made in France, with a major focus on sustainability. Hermès also aims for net zero emissions by 2050. 

Most importantly, the brand is committed to disability employment, exceeding legal requirements at 6.4%.

Chanel

In 2020, Chanel launched Chanel Mission 1.5, a 10-year climate plan, committing to science-based targets by 2030. It also issued Sustainability-Linked Bonds and joined The Fashion Pact around the same time. 

Targeting a 50% reduction in operational carbon footprint and 40% from the value chain, the brand aims for 100% renewable energy by 2025. Plus, they’ve embraced EVs for deliveries and shifted to sea and low-CO2 air transport. This way, Chanel saves 10,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. 

Partnering with startups like Oritain and Sulapec and producing eco-responsible tweeds, Chanel is currently focused on making their clothes as eco-friendly as possible.

Rolex

Launched in 2019, Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Initiative funds projects to sustain the world’s ecosystems. The brand is deeply connected to nature, using its position to address climate challenges from oceans to waste reuse.

Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Initiative currently collaborates with 20+ partners globally. Owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, Rolex is well-known for being shockingly generous when it comes to charities. Some have even wondered: is Rolex a non-profit organization?

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood, founded in 1971, is an avid speaker on environmental causes. The brand even shows off its activism on the runway, with bold statements like “Climate Revolution” on T-shirts.

Their motto, “buy less, choose well, make it last,” tells you enough about their sustainability approach. Over 90% of recent collections use eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and recycled metals. In their mainline collection, over 95% of cotton is organic, recycled, or sustainably sourced. 

They avoid real animal leather and use alternatives like cactus and apple leather. Vivienne Westwood plans to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2024, helping its global supply chain to do the same.

Gucci

Founded in 1921 in Florence, Gucci initiated its 10-year sustainability plan, ‘Culture of Purpose’, in 2015. It aims for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 100% traceability of raw materials by 2025. 

Gucci also aims to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations and supply chain by 2018 and 2021, respectively, by focusing on waste reduction and circularity. In 2024, its ‘Denim Project’ received the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Award for Circular Economy. 

The brand makes a notable effort to use sustainable materials, with collections like Gucci Off the Grid in 2020.

Burberry

Burberry is working toward net-zero emissions with a 90% reduction in Scope 3 emissions by 2040. It was the first luxury brand rated by Standard Ethics for ‘strong’ sustainability. 

In 2021, it entered the sustainability bond market, raising $411.1 million for eco-goals. With carbon-neutral operations and a goal for climate positivity by 2040, Burberry focuses on supply chain sustainability. 

Plus, they’ve banned the use of exotic leathers and aim for 100% traceable materials by 2025, collaborating with Better Cotton for organic cotton. If that wasn’t enough, customers can also trade pre-loved Burberry items for gift cards.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton, which started out with luxury trunks in 1854, evolved into a fashion icon when it merged with Moet et Chandon and Hennessy in 1987 to form LVMH.

As outlined in LVMH LIFE 360, the brand aims to cut down its carbon footprint by 55% by 2030–validated by SBTi. By 2025, they strive for 100% responsible material sourcing, 78% of which is already certified or recycled. 

Their efforts also extend to eco-design, using recycled materials for most products. Louis Vuitton owns the Atelier de l’Oratoire, France’s first bioclimatic building with sustainable architecture and energy efficiency.

Prada Group

Established in 1913 by Mario Prada in Milan, Prada turned into a global fashion leader under Miuccia, his granddaughter. 

Prada published its first sustainability report a decade ago and set GHG emission reduction targets approved by SBTi in 2021. Focused on inclusivity, Prada joined The Valuable 500 and expanded its board with ESG experts. 

The brand also uses eco-friendly materials like Re-Nylon and FSC-certified or recycled packaging.

Dior

Founded in 1946 by the icon Christian Dior, the Dior brand was a revolution for women’s fashion. It was acquired by LVMH in 2017 for $12 billion and is now split into Dior RTW and Christian Dior Couture. 

Their Women@Dior program mentors underprivileged young women as part of UNESCO’s Global Skills Academy. Other than that, Dior aims to reduce energy consumption by 50% by 2026 and Scope 3 emissions by 55% by 2030. 

Some of their recent initiatives include a Dubai concept store using 3D printing and partnering with Parley for the Oceans to create eco-friendly yarns. They’ve also won the Forbes Green Ecological Transition Prize.

Conclusion

The fashion industry is one of the major concerns for the future of our not-so-green planet. But with luxury brands taking the initiative to be more sustainable, there may still be hope. 

So, next time you invest in luxury, consider the impact beyond the product. Your choice of brand could be a catalyst for positive change!

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