“Sustainability within the fashion industry, the second largest employer in the UK, needs to be more than just personal choice, it needs to make sense for businesses and consumers”, stated Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council, Aquascutum and Jaeger, in his call to action that followed RE:Fashion Summit in April 2010.
Indeed, sustainability needs to “make sense” to the large corporations, in other words equal profit or savings, in order to excite them about embarking on a long and complicated journey of a company restructure processes in the conquest to become more sustainable.
One way to promote the financial sense of sustainability to luxury fashion companies is to call upon tax breaks for fashion businesses that operate in an ethical and sustainable way. Harold Tillman is leading the initiative, which aims to encourage companies to adopt a more ethical approach in return for financial benefits.
Some companies are already taking initiatives of their own, seeing financial gain in becoming more sustainably operated. The luxury and sporting goods group PPR, which owns such labels as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Puma, has recently unveiled its five-year sustainability plan.
Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of PPR, comments: “Our pursuit of operating on a more sustainable level across all areas of our business is integral to our business plan and the longevity of our business.”
“We are confident that this type of innovative, sustainability-driven approach will ultimately generate new business revenues from sustainable products and services and create new business models for us as a group.”
Whether it’s a financial gain that is the driving force behind the recent uprise in sustainability plans and tactics that are being unveiled by various fashion names, or the sheer reputation boost that is starting to surround the now fshionable word “sustainability”, one thing is for sure – sustainability is fast becoming a highly prestigious thing to admit to having integrated in the company operations, and luxury fashion houses are embracing this thought with the ever increasing confidence and passion.
In the spirit of this issue’s main theme, “Made in UK”, we take a closer look at sustainable and ethical initiatives of the six iconic UK fashion brands – Burberry, Mulberry, Jaeger, Aquascutum, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
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