At Copenhagen Fashion Summit Marie-Claire introduces me to challenges and opportunities that Kering is facing on its path to becoming the most sustainable Group in Luxury.
Ola: We were just presented a first-ever CEO Agenda for a sustainable fashion industry. It includes 7 huge challenges - what is your approach to them?
Marie-Claire: My team and I worked on developing this agenda, as sustainability is our priority at Kering. It might seem like a lot, but it's just a starting point. Inside Kering we go far beyond this. Sustainability is no longer an option for our industry, it is a necessity. And to be sustainable you must collaborate and share your learnings and best practices. Speaking of millenials and gen Z they are more and more sensitive to transparency and engagement.
[caption id="attachment_4480" align="aligncenter" width="510"] Kering recently published Report, 2018[/caption]
Ola: Is the new luxury consumer more sensitive to transparency and sustainability?
Marie-Claire: Luxury consumers in general anticipate that our products’ savoir-faire automatically equals taking care of people and the planet. For them, buying a luxury product inherently means that responsibility and sustainability are built into its DNA. We have no quantitative studies to back this up, however we know that consumers are becoming more and more conscious overall. We are carefully listening to insights from our boutiques all over the world and there are more and more questions linked to sustainability everywhere…of course nobody is coming to the boutique and asking questions using the word sustainability, but they ask where gold and the precious stones come from and what is the story behind each product. They are also sensitive to animal welfare. A similar dynamic is happening on the investor side. They ask: how is Kering resilient to climate change? So on all sides, everyone is becoming more conscious of global challenges: scarcity of natural resources, lack of biodiversity and climate change. Since I joined the Group in 2012, I saw this shift coming initially from the food industry because it is closely linked to our health, then from the automotive industry since it affects air quality and finally to the fashion industry. It is happening now all over the world, which is excellent progress in my view.
For us, sustainability is about ethical reasons of course, but it is also to stimulate innovation and creativity and “future proof” the business for upcoming generations.
Ola: How do you put in practice innovation while staying true to the heritage?
Marie- Claire: There is no conflict between savoir-faire, craftsmanship and innovation. We are aware of the fact that we are using traditional processes that we need to change, like the tanning methods used for leather. As an example, we are working to remove Chromium from this equation and we invested in research to avoid heavy metals, in partnership with universities and tanneries. We aim to improve our craftsmanship and commit to finding sustainable alternatives at the same time, while also aligning with the Greenpeace detox campaign. At Kering, our goal is to reduce our environmental footprint by 40% across the entire supply chain by 2025 and innovation is key to achieve this. We collaborate with start-ups and the Fashion For Good-Plug and Play accelerator to discover how we can implement new innovations across our Maisons. We also partnered with Worn Again to boost circular economy systems and solutions. We are at the R&D stage at the moment when it comes to circular materials but we believe these efforts are crucial to help drive sustainability in our own business and in our industry. A main priority when speaking about innovation for Luxury is to keep the same highest standards of quality. This is also one of the reasons that we created the Kering Materials Innovation Lab in Italy 5 years ago, where our most sustainable fabrics come from. To ensure we have access to materials that combine beauty, quality and sustainability.
[caption id="attachment_4482" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] from Kering Environmental Profit & Loss Report 2018[/caption]
Ola: With UN 2030 Agenda mainstreamed and asking for involvement of leaders across sectors: how do you implement in your everyday professional life the responsibility for the people and planet?
Marie- Claire: With our CEO, François-Henri Pinault, there is a long-term commitment to sustainability. We are lucky that sustainability is at the core of Kering’s strategy and so that everyone inside the company knows that this is our key priority. For us, sustainability is about ethical reasons of course, but it is also to stimulate innovation and creativity and “future proof” the business for upcoming generations. We have over 50 people in the Group dedicated full time to push sustainability on every level of the business: strategy, design, manufacturing, sourcing, etc. It is embedded into our strategy from the executive board to the ground level. In our 2025 sustainability action plan, every brand has their individual DNAs to respect but within this context they are mandated to reduce their own impacts so that the overall Group’s environmental footprint is reduced by 40% within this timeline, as well as the Group’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Also within our 2025 sustainability strategy gender parity is a key target to attain at every level inside each brand. This illustrates how both the environmental and social sides are equally important.
There are no magic solutions and sustainability takes time and effort. You have to be pragmatic in your approach and know where you want to go and what you want to attain. What we know is this: we want to be the most sustainable Group in Luxury.
Marie-Claire Daveu is the Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of International Institutional Affairs at Kering. She is in charge of both departments where her day-to-day role includes directing the continued progress of Kering’s ambitious sustainability strategy and the implementation of the Group’s institutional affairs on a global scale.
This piece published in a first printed edition of AEffect Journal explores how Blockchain frames a radically different relationship between business, supply chains and consumers. I interviewed key pioneers of this emerging movement - Jessi Baker a co-founder and CEO of Provenance, Neliana Fuenmayor a Founder of A Transparent Company and Bruno Pieters a Founder and Creative Director of Honest By, to explore how transparency will change our decision-making about purchase and what it means to consume.
It was the most inspiring moment of Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2018 to meet Veronica, the social entrepreneur and founder of Carcel, a luxury brand that creates an ethical working place for women in prisons.
Ola : Let's start from the beginning: Carcel clothes are made by imprisoned women in Peru and Thailand. What this partnership means to you and to them?
Veronica: We started manufacturing in prisons in order forthewomen to combat poverty, which is the main cause of female incarceration. In Peru 70% of female prisoners are there because of drug trafficking, predominantly cocaine, so mostly for non-violent crimes. They come from rural areas and are providers for their children and families. After being locked away for 5 - 17 years, they come out even poorer than before. So we are now turning prisons into production sites to give them new skills and good wages. This way women can make an income and get experience, save up for their life after the prison.
Ola: How do you monitor your social impact?
Veronica: There are no existing frameworks or standards, as we are the first global player doing this in an ethical way. Prison production is nothing new.But it has been contaminated by years of exploitation. Our purpose is to find out how to do it right instead of not doing anything. That's why we were contacted by the United Nationsto contributeour knowledge and we are currently working on basic ethical standards.
So how can we turn this around? How can we provide a living wage and good working conditions? We do itby taking care of our own production. We are not outsourcing like a majority of fashion brands today. We have a German production manager who is going to prison everyday to work alongside women, developing relationships with them. This way impact is measured on a day to day level. We noticed that depression was a very big issue in prisons, which we see slowly decreasing. The women are now sending money home to support their families which is a major shift in both their dignity and also the impact for their relatives. Women working with us have very long sentences, so further impact for reintegrating into society is to be seen in the future.
"The way I see it: fashion of the 21st century builds on what fashion does really well, being inspiring, self-expressive and visionary, but it also just has to work all the way throughout and solve problems across the supply chain instead of creating them. I believe people are ready for it."
Ola: You are representing a pro active approach to social innovation
Sharing economy, circular solutions and the profound understanding of consumer data are the driving force of the pre-loved fashion marketplaces. Vestiaire Collective, undoubtedly one of the most popular and globally present, curated community turns out to be the biggest disruptor for luxury brands (above Stella-von-Senger for Vestiaire Collective).
Ola: Who is your consumer?
Sébastien: We have 2 types of consumers. There are people looking for a precise product, that is sold out in other boutiques. On the other hand, we have consumers below 35 years old, who have a different vision of what does it mean to poses the product. They find the product they are interested in, wear it for 3 months and resell it. So from the start they have in mind, that there is a market for the product after they use it. This group is dynamically growing.
"On the other hand, we have consumers below 35 years old, who have a different vision of what does it mean to poses the product. They find the product they are interested in, wear it for 3 months and resell it. So from the start they have in mind, that there is a market for the product after they use it. This group is dynamically growing."
Ola: Is Asian consumer a particularly a big buying force for you?
Sebastien: We recently opened a Hong Kong office because of that. We started with Japan as a supply market and Korea as a buying market. We need to first understand what is the pace of fashion there. Often things are popular globally, but not at the same time and we must precisely know if it is going to be now or 3 months after.
Ola: Can you give an example?
Sebastien: 85% of the products cross borders. So we managed to activate the "sleeping supply" that was stored in peoples wardrobes and find new markets. For example, we were in Spain when Loewe became hot like 2 years ago. So we were able to have a big supply of Loewe bags and bring them to the market place just in time.
[caption id="attachment_4450" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Katherine Ormerod, founder of Work Work Work for Vestiaire Collective[/caption]
Ola: What kind of buyers work for you?
Sébastien: We have an international team of 30 stylists who accept the product and anticipate what will be interesting for us in the future. They are supported by data, such as: volume of the search, desirability statistics, wish lists and likes. They analyse all this data and select key products. Somehow the human selection is always key for us, not only data and machine learning. It must be a collaborative process between human and AI.
Ola: How this model will expand in the future?
Sébastien: We will be launching this year a service of giving the data back to the user, so that the sellers can become even more active participants of the community. We want to share with them the desirability and value of the product, so that they decide themselves where and when to sell. After our ultra successful partnerships with super models we also hope for partnerships with brands and designers. We aim to show them the real lifecycle of their product, which in fact they can sell up to 4 times instead of once. They could certify and refurbish the vintage goods, that we could source for them. Just like we sourced vintage products for the exhibition of Martin Margiela in Paris.
Sébastien Fabre is a CEO & Founder of Vestiaire Collective - a curated global marketplace for the re-sale of verified luxury fashion goods, founded in 2008. Currently with the community of 6 million members in 50 countries and offices in: Paris, Berlin, London, Milan, New York and Hong Kong.