Why Luxury Brands Must Radically Rethink Sustainability
Traditional customer groups for luxury brands — baby boomers and Gen Xers — focus less on sustainability. But younger generations are dramatically more concerned with the external side effects of what they consume.
Gen Zers perceive themselves as brands, and they associate themselves with brands that are extensions of themselves. That means “greenwashing,” aka sustainability lip service, is not convincing to these consumers.
Luxury brands must quickly find solutions for pre-owned items, as luxury consignment retailers now sell massive amounts of second-hand luxury items, sometimes at significantly higher price points.
“Luxury and sustainability are one and the same,” reads an opening statement by François-Henri Pinault, the owner & CEO of Kering (the luxury group that owns brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta) in the sustainability section of the company’s website. Gucci was the first luxury brand to ban fur from all their collections, which quickly made it a pacesetter in luxury sustainability.
Similarly, LVMH — the world’s leading luxury group — highlights on its corporate website that it “has made sustainable development a strategic priority since its founding.” It also showcases initiatives like its Environment Academy, which aims to raise awareness about sustainability and teach its employees how to protect the environment. These initiatives and others are important since they signal that the leading luxury houses always have sustainability in mind. As such, they are critical catalysts for other initiatives.
A much stronger focus on sustainable luxury is needed to help protect the environment, increase care for animals, and reuse or recycle wherever possible. But it’s also necessary because of a radical change in consumer expectations.
Traditional customer groups for luxury brands — baby boomers and Gen Xers, who are all over forty — used to focus less on sustainability and more on product performance, materials, and craftsmanship. But younger generations are dramatically more concerned with the external side effects of what they consume.
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