LVMH Follows in the Footsteps of Kering, Vows to Improve Sustainability Credentials

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group, wants in on the increasing appeal of eco-conscious fashion. The Paris-based group, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Celine, Marc Jacobs, and Givenchy, among other brands, has confirmed that it will invest more to improve its environmental credentials as fashion businesses seek to reassure shoppers who are increasingly drawn to eco-friendly brands.

The Bernard Arnault-owned conglomerate confirmed that - among other efforts - its brands will allocate 30 euros to an in-house carbon fund for every ton of CO2 emissions they generate from 2018, up from 15 euros in years prior. Those funds will be earmarked for insulating buildings and other projects. As noted by Reuters, representatives for “LVMH said that it is also working on other steps, such as raising the share of leather goods sourced from strictly monitored tanneries to 70 percent by 2020.”

“Our clients are more and more sensitive to the fact the products they consume should respect the environment,” Arnault told journalists on Wednesday. “Our partners and clients are very attached to this aspect and it seemed logical to make a shift and talk about it a little more.” 

It comes as little surprise that LVMH has decided to publicly take on sustainability. One of its closest rivals, Paris-based Kering – which owns Gucci, Balenciaga, YSL, and Alexander McQueen, etc. – has, for years, publicized its sustainability targets as part of a larger “360° approach” within its own operations and across the entire supply chain.

Kering’s reps reiterated early this year that the group is dedicated to continuing to reduce its environmental impacts, advocate social welfare inside and outside the group, and create innovative, game-changing platforms.

In addition to a rise in consumer awareness as to how, where, and by whom their clothing is being made, "what motivates these luxury groups to be more and more vigilant is that they run a reputational risk,” Olivier Abtan of Boston Consulting Group told Reuters. 

An increasing number of companies have been plagued with bad press in recent years for their exploitative working conditions and/or the use of fabrics or manufacturing processes that encourage pollution. Early this year LVMH, itself, came under fire for its sourcing practices, after  People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals released footage taken inside several crocodile farms in Vietnam depicting the horrific way in which the animals’ skins are harvested. 

Moreover, according to Kering’s chief sustainability officer, Marie-Claire Daveu, going green is simply good for business. Customers are not the ones to convince that the company’s commitment to sustainability is worthy, Daveu told Quartz last year. “Investors, these kind of people are more and more convinced by sustainability—even if they don’t use the word sustainability—but for them it’s a risk management approach.”

Luxury brands - which tend to fiercely guard their manufacturing practices and other supply chain information as valuable trade secrets - are consistently slammed by industry rankings as a result of their penchant for being tight-lipped. 

Widely-publicized reports, such as those being peddled by Rank a Brand (which releases a ranking on companies’ levels of cotton sustainability) and Know The Chain (which looks at human trafficking and forced labor in companies’ supply chains), for instance, consistently down-grade luxury brands for failing to provide information regarding their sustainability efforts. With that in mind, these rankings often favor notoriously unsustainable mass-market fast fashion brands over high fashion ones, thanks to the willingness of fast fashion brands to share such information.