Your French luxury organics online concept store : organic beauty & skin care and green lifestyle

Sustainable Luxury

Sustainable luxury is the future. This is Ecocentric’s deep conviction. Not only consumers will more and more insist upon sustainability as a condition for purchasing but it is also a clear differentiation and innovation opportunity for luxury brands.

WHY SUSTAINABLE LUXURY MAKES SENSE?

Foremost, it is crucial not to make mistakes in the definition of a sustainable luxury product: it should be written with a small s and a capital L not to be defined as an eco-friendly product seeking a premium image but instead, as a luxury product with sustainable values.

 

• At first glance, an apparent contradiction

 

The two concepts of “luxury” and “sustainable development” are often seen as antagonistic ideals. That’s why sustainable luxury is a term that many might find surprising or even shocking. To them “sustainable luxury” might best be found in the dictionary under the entry for oxymoron, and a priori should be two words you may not find in the same sentence. Proof is the luxury industry is ranked last of industries associated with sustainable commitments (including financial and petrol sectors).

 

After all, luxury often carries with it connotations of excess, pomp and waste, and it is associated with pleasure, individualism, unreasonable enjoyment and fashion, an industry prone to fads. Whereas sustainability is synonymous with ethics, collectivity and restraint as it invites us to “meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”.

• Luxury and sustainability: a natural alliance

 

But if we go beyond appearances and return to the very definition of luxury, we can instead say that sustainability is part of the luxury DNA.

 

Perhaps a sensible starting point is that luxury can be read as placing an importance on durability in accordance with the concept of fewer but better. Indeed, luxury is, by its very nature, timeless, durable and long lasting. Qualitative luxury goods have then implicit sustainability built in as they don’t go out of fashion and are long-life products.

 

Moreover luxury is very close to sustainable preoccupations as it is founded on respect for fine natural resources and craftsmanship that result in a rare and beautiful product charged with meaning, heritage and a story. As explained by Jean Noel Kapferer, renowned French marketing professor, “luxury is at its essence very close to sustainable preoccupations because it is nourished by rarity and beauty and thus has an interest in preserving them.”

 

Exclusive goods and services with sound environmental and social credentials sound then more meaningful and the link to sustainability becomes less jarring.

 

 Mulberry eco-friendly vegetable leather luxury handbag

Mulberry - Bayswater vegetable leather bag

credits : Mulberry Group plc

     

SUSTAINABLE LUXURY IS NOT JUST ANOTHER FAD

• Sustainable Luxury is a necessity

 

The globalization and exponential growth of the luxury industry, fostered by strong demand from China, has led to greater environmental and biodiversity impacts, raising compelling issues: the sourcing of raw minerals (gold, gems…), the textile supply chain and attendant labor conditions due to some outsourcing to developing countries, animal welfare issues for luxury leather goods manufacturers…

 

As social and environmental stresses increase and global resources come under greater pressure , luxury industry must embrace new environmental and labor standards.

 

Stella Mc Cartney stretch-knit dress

 

Stella McCartney - Knit dress

credits : Net-A-Porter Group Ltd

 

• Sustainability as a differentiation factor

 

Luxury has to redefine itself so that products embody highly valued social and environmental criteria that set them apart from other cheaper, more “common” premium brands.

 

According to the Deeper Luxury WWF report, authentic luxury brands are "those that provide the greatest positive contribution to all affected by their creation and that identify their consumers as having the means and motivation to respect both people and planet".

 

Environmental and labor standards are new reasons for luxury brands to distinguish them from masstige products and justify their high-priced products as the planet can’t afford for consumers to spend less.

 

• To meet luxury consumers’ expectations

 

The health impact of toxic residues present in many textiles, foods and cosmetics are more and more an issue of concern for consumers that are increasingly willing to pay more for eco-friendly or ethical products.

 

As a consequence of a more global awareness and increasing connectivity, consumers are demanding that the goods they buy be made in ways that do not harm the environment or the workers who make them.

     

• Luxury has not only to be sustainable, but responsible

 

The luxury industry, because it is so profitable, has a special obligation to change its business practices and create the most environmentally responsible products.

 

The duty of luxury is not only to act, but also to mobilize and it could have a large impact in educating consumers to be less wasteful because of its role as a trendsetter: there is no point producing a long-life sustainable product that is then discarded by the owner.

CONCLUSION

The luxury industry’s journey towards greater sustainability will take time as it can only be achieved in the long term through patience and perseverance but all the stakeholders must act now to change the future as there is no other path possible.