sustainable luxury

Sustainable luxury design at the 2012 Oscars

Isaac Mostovicz writes that ecologically aware designs at 2012's Oscars mean greater exposure for luxury brands ...

An interesting article in the Financial Times talks about the prevalence towards sustainable design in this year’s Oscar dresses.

Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth and eco-fashion campaigner, launched a “Green Carpet Challenge” to high end designers in 2009 which invites them to create red-carpet designs using only sustainable materials. So far names such as Armani and Gucci have responded, creating luxury garments fashioned from ethical materials that don’t compromise on desirability.

Image courtesy of Stock.XCHNG

At this year’s Oscar’s the winning “Red Carpet Green Dress” dress which was designed by Valentina Delfino will be worn by Missi Pyle, an actress in nominated film The Artist – meaning significant exposure for an ecologically-sound design.

This kind of “upcycling”, or the next wave of recycling, is not an entirely new trend. British designer duo Clements Ribiero is one brand that has been considering the sustainability aspects of their designs for some time.

They comment: “We didn’t start off to create a conscience product. But, if we do our bit to help, it is an added bonus. For us it was more a case of finding astounding fabric at vintage fairs, beautiful hand-crafted bits that told a story – it was a pity to see that all go to waste.”

Other designers such as Christopher Raeburn and jewellery designer Katherine Alexander have embraced this trend, with lines created almost exclusively out of re-appropriated or otherwise “scrap” materials.

Running a luxury brand in a ‘sustainable’ manner makes sense from a marketing point of view – previous articles on this blog have discussed the damage to brands that could disadvantage them as they compete for global customers if they are seen to be unsustainable.

Within Janusian thinking, this kind of sustainable luxury has the greatest appeal to a Lambda. The knowledge that the product has a rich history embedded within it, particularly in the case of Clements Ribiero’s designs, is what spurs this kind of consumer, whereas for a Theta, the appeal would come more from purchasing a product from a high-end brand.

Later this spring Firth will introduce a sustainable collaboration with Yoox.com. It will be interesting to see whether increased consumer demand will force more luxury brands to consider sustainability as a central part of their business agenda.

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Sustainable Packaging and the Luxury Brand

Isaac Mostovicz writes that that packaging is an area where luxury brands can be sustainable without losing their individual aesthetics ...

I  have previously written on the relationship between sustainability and luxury, such as in my posts ‘Can luxury be sustainable?‘ and ‘Positively Luxury‘. It was interesting, therefore, to read this article on Triple Pundit titled “Trendwatch: Luxury Brands Improve Sustainability Packaging“.

The article’s author writes that:

“…it is [ ] packaging that sets apart drugstore brands from luxury brands… since luxury brands and mass-market brands have different target markets, their packaging should reflect this.”

When shopping in store, particularly for luxury goods such as perfumes, packaging is one of the first things that consumers see.

The Estee Lauder senior vice-president of global package development, Henry Renella, said (speaking at a Luxe Pack event in Monaco) that luxury brands can be sustainable while being subtle about their eco-credentials. Packaging still needs to reflect the brand’s aesthetics if the brand is to remain successful, but can be sustainable, particularly if made out of paperboard (which is often FSC certified) or glass.

The rise of the luxury market in Asia has been well documented, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Asia-Pacific region is now the leader in luxury packaging, and according to the article, Asia has a key role to play in hastening sustainable luxury packaging.

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Positively Luxury

Isaac Mostovicz writes that we are seeing a trend towards 'sustainable luxury'...

A new website, Positive Luxury, has recently launched. It is:

“…a daily lifestyle magazine combining glossy editorial with luxury shopping and the social environmental responsibility of brands at a click…”

The new e-magazine hopes to highlight luxury brands that are already using environmentally-sound practices, as well as encouraging others to do so. The CEO of the company, Diane Verde Nieto, said in this interview:

“People want to feel proud of the brands they buy, and they want to be sure about the credentials of those brands without paying more or sacrificing on style.”

I have written about the issue of sustainable luxury previously, such as in this post, where I argue that there is a strong case for luxury goods being more ‘sustainable’ in certain cases, whether because they use better sourced materials, they up-cycle (turning unwanted materials into new materials or products of better quality) or because they may use skilled staff who are paid more.

Running a luxury brand in a ‘sustainable’ manner also makes sense from a marketing point of view – critical articles such as this one from the Guardian can cause repuatational damage to brands that could disadvantage them as they compete for global customers.

I believe that we will be seeing more talk of ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ luxury as time goes on, and I think Positive Luxury is just a tip of this trend.

Anne Green Wilson says of this article...

I agree with you – Positiveluxury.com is the tip of the iceberg… what I particularly like about them is that they make sustainability normal, as part of every day life… as it should be – not this add on stuff with very difficult language that nobody really gets.

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Luxury motor brands embrace greener agenda

Isaac Mostovicz writes that that luxury can be sustainable...

Rolls-Royce has joined a growing set of luxury car manufacturers in admitting that its cars need to be greener – relying less on petrol, and more on alternative fuelling methods such as electricity – if their business is to be sustainable in the long term.

The luxury car brand has built a one-off electric car based on its flagship ‘Phantom’ model, which it is showcasing to consumers on a year-long tour.

Although many people may associate luxury with being inherently unsustainable, but this development shows that this dis not necessarily the case. It is not just car manufacturers taking this step – take the example of the couple in America who are aiming to built the most sustaibable luxury home in the world.

Rolls-Royce are not the only brand to develop high-end alternatives to petrol engines, with BMW, Jaguar, Audi and Porsche all developing rival cars. A few years from now, it seems as though hybrid high-end cars will be de rigueur as the different brands work to attract a slightly different type of luxury consumer.

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