For a long time, eco-responsibility and fashion seemed to be contradictory. The health and economic crisis of COVID19 has accelerated the need to redefine luxury in compatibility with sustainability.
At a time when nations were closing borders and shutting down commercial trades, a return to the essential through short circuits and local products, has been reinforced. A humility in the face of nature that has reminded us of its unpredictability but also enabled us to highlight independent brands with roots and values linked to the preservation of our planet and its communities. These fair products and brands all share a sustainable hedonistic vision of luxury.
An indisputable fact
In 2019, the luxury market reached a global turnover of €1,300 billion (Bain & Company reports).
The environmental and societal cost of luxury is massive. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050 fashion will have consumed a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.
Luxury and fashion require a profound mutation in order to sustain a production dependent on natural resources but also to integrate the great potential offered by a sustainable economic development.
A need for transparency
Within fashion empires, transparency is lacking across the entire value chain. Most brands outsource their production to factories that themselves hire local suppliers. The system displays a clear lack of traceability and clarity on working conditions, as unfortunately reminded by the Rana Plaza disaster. In response, Sourcemap enables brands to map their supply chain for greater visibility into their production ecosystem, allowing buyers to trace back the origins of their garments.
Other digital innovations, such as Clear Fashion, an app for assessing the eco-responsibility of brands, provide greater transparency for the customer. Green Story, offering e-commerce brands the opportunity to share fun index of their environmental impact, also fosters interactions.
The initiatives of connected activists and the commitment of the youngest generation promote the expansion of sustainable luxury development with integrity.
Promoting certified and natural raw materials
Olistic the Label offers its customers an ethical wardrobe made of conscious, natural materials: lyocell or peace silk (Ahimsa “cruelty-free”). A reasoned slow luxury whose sobriety enhances its desirability.
Labels and certifications make it possible to define a set of specifications and provide information on eco responsible commitments. Olistic the Label creations are all GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard) certified, the label guarantees a garment made of natural fibers that are at least 95% organic. From the conscious creation of its collections in Paris to the harvesting of natural materials to the manufacture and choice of its biodegradable packaging, Olistic the Label controls its production chain with excellence and kindness in order to leave no trace of its products on our planet.
Rethinking fashion business models
The frenetic pace of collections has gradually lengthened the fashion weeks in fashion year. For fast fashion as for luxury, the countless collections follow one another in the space of just a few weeks. Gucci has recently renounced the official fashion calendar, like Saint Laurent (Kering) and Valentino.
It is necessary to establish new production rules at the sight of accumulated stocks at an undeniable economic and environmental cost.
Reducing one’s clothing consumption, buying less but better reinforces the legitimacy of luxury. A responsible choice favoring products whose relevance and quality will endure over time. Timeless fashion, free from seasonality, is compatible with sustainable development and reasoned consumption. This is what Olistic the Label offers through seasonless fashion.
Digital and textile innovation: the foundation of sustainable luxury
Sustainable and ethical fashion is not backward-looking. A progressive technology uniting tech and eco-fashion multiplies the potential for luxury businesses.
According to Florence Raja of Ethical Era: “Artificial Intelligence has the capacity to assist the environment. We are at the beginning of a very significant shift which has now been fast tracked by COVID19 which will fundamentally change the way we live, structure industry and relate to the planet. We are heading towards a fourth industrial revolution built on tech and sustainability which can change our behavior, our production and consumption systems and offer the potential for supporting the regeneration and preservation of natural environments. The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise”.
Innovative textiles and materials with a low environmental impact will help to answer the overall demand of the sector while preserving the environment.
Biotechnological innovations and inter-industry partnerships will make it possible to develop new sustainable fibers and materials. Founded by Miroslava Duma, Fashion Tech Lab has enabled startups to develop leather from mycelium and a sustainable biodegradable silk, replicating spider silk proteins, which has seduced Stella McCartney.
Blockchain guarantees authenticity and traceability of luxury products, a real challenge for the industry as online sales and the second-hand luxury market accelerate. Arianee offers a digital certification protocol (via QR code and chips) to ensure the origin of the product and the transparency of its supply chain.
Faced with the colossal carbon footprint of fashion shows, the Swedish Fashion Council cancelled its 2019 fashion-week. Thanks to Fashinnovation and its digitalization technology we could soon witness the first 100% digital fashion week.
Second-hand luxury, the new growing market
For long reserved for vintage clothing, second-hand purchasing platforms have gradually opened up to luxury clothing and accessories, reinventing and modernizing the concept of consignment warehouses. The success of Vestiaire Collective, co-founded by Fanny Moizant, proves the relevance of the second-hand luxury market, whose motivations are both price-related and ecological.
A new ethos of experiential consumption, far from the notion of product ownership, favors the development of rental business models (Panoply, Rent The Runway). This philosophy limits the purchase of new clothing hence promoting eco-responsibility as well as the detoxification of wardrobes. These platforms allow access, thanks to a subscription system, to an almost unlimited range of designers’ pieces according to current needs and desires.
The need for concerted action with major groups
Local commitment is undoubted, such as Olistic the Label, which aligns its sustainable development objectives with those of the United Nations. However, the support of multinationals is unavoidable.
In France, during the 2019 G7, 32 of the leaders in the sector, including French groups and maisons such as Chanel or Kering (owned by François-Henri Pinault), have committed to eradicate single-use plastic and seek more sustainable raw materials. This commitment initiates the Fashion Pact, a global industry coalition to curb global warming, restore biodiversity and protect our oceans.
LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Dior…) created the LVMH Carbon Fund in 2015 to reduce its energy consumption.
For luxury companies whose DNA is not sustainability-based, consulting firms (Eco-Age), allow them to adopt eco-responsibility standards and promote a more responsible fashion thanks to an influential network mobilized for a green carpet.
Multinationals and independent designers join forces through the environmental philanthropy collective 1% for the planet. Initiated by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, the association joined by Olistic the Label has, since 2002, raised more than €200 million for the protection of wildlife, the fight against global warming and pollution.
Luxury in favor of communities and artisans
Social commitment to textile workers is complementary to eco-responsible production.
The majority of fashion workers are women. Sensitive to their need for emancipation and wishing to preserve the savoir-faire enabling the creation of art pieces, Camille Jaillant supports an organic sericulture in India.
Faithful to its values of sharing, Olistic the Label participated in the recent Hackaton organized by Ethical Fashion (a joint program of ITC, WTO and UN founded by Simone Cipriani). The discussion between actors of the industry, designers, scientists and institutions aimed at rethinking the future of fashion and preparing better days ahead.
The preservation and promotion of Latin American craftsmanship on a global scale gave birth to the Latam Fashion Summit. A platform for exchange and communication created by entrepreneurs Estefania Lacayo and Samantha Tams to support local talent in accordance to global fashion challenges.
Circular economy and upcycling
Giving a second life to textile waste through creation is a necessity, whereas for INEC 80% of European textile waste currently escapes recycling.
This has led Stéphanie Joy Benedetto to launch Queen of Raw, a platform for purchasing dormant textile stocks; $120 million worth of fabrics usually destroyed. For her: “we are in a period of massive disruption which conditions the way out of the crisis to digital innovation. For the luxury industry, this means reducing costs while sustainably ensuring its needs in raw materials”. From the union of Queen of Raw and Olistic was born the Flamma capsule, trousers and kimono in a luxurious upcycled Italian silk crepe.
More than ever, the raison d’être of luxury is asserting itself in order to build an eco-responsible world. The recent ecosystem of ultra-desirable sustainable luxury brands and the success of larger eco-responsible brands such as Stella McCartney, proves that the redefinition of fashion and luxury can be rooted in strong ethical humanist values.