Yesterday, at the Peninsula Hotel in the 16th borough of Paris, the very first edition of Positive Week in France took place. The panel-based event gave the opportunity to journalists and other fashion professionals to discuss the principles of sustainability with industry leaders.
When we launched Positive Luxury, our goal was to highlight the environmental initiatives of brands that invest in real change. We work with more than a hundred brands to transform their strategy and philosophy and help them embrace new processes that are more respectful of nature and people. Beyond the fashion industry and the luxury industry, we all have a role to play in this battle that is sustainability. This is what we focussed on at our panel yesterday.
Before starting the festivities, we welcomed our guests at a networking breakfast, including journalists, environment directors, communication teams, CEOs and founders. They all had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas before the panel began. Our co-founder and CEO, Diana Verde Nieto, opened the panel by talking about Positive Luxury’s work through our eight years in business, years that have allowed us to build meaningful and constructive partnerships with our brands of our community.
Sustainability in winemaking was the first topic discussed, with insights from Margareth Henriquez, President and CEO of House Of Krug and Moët Hennessy Estates & Wines. She helped attendees understand the difficulty of implementing more environmentally-friendly production at the Champagne house. She also discussed the importance of cultural heritage at the century-old Champagne house, driven by its founder’s vision. Maintaining healthy vines while using the least amount of insecticides possible in wine production is a problem many companies face, but this didn’t discourage Krug. Through working with Positive Luxury, they took drastic measures to communicate with their customers and started using new, 100% recyclable packaging.
On legacy and culture
After Margareth captivated the audience with her speech on sustainability in the Champagne industry, the panel began. The panellists were Xavier Rougeaux, CEO of Smythson, Franziska Gsell, CMO of IWC Schaffhausen, and Sylvie Bénard, director of environment at the LVMH Group. During their discussion, they highlighted the culture and heritage of each brand, and their involvement in making the businesses more sustainable. Has sustainability helped employee retention? They all agreed. Sylvie said, “There is not one interview today without a question about sustainability.” Franziska added, “Not only does this topic matter to people outside the company, but it is equally important or even more important for the employees.” Xavier said, “We always got the question it is crucial that a brand come back to its heritage, to the vision of its founder. Believing in what you share is crucial for the customer to take part in a whole.” Sylvie supported the concept of a long-term vision, adding that “a luxury product is one that lasts a long time, which makes it, by definition, better for the environment.” Each of these insights are so important, and they are shared with buyers and consumers to help keep everyone aware.
A constantly evolving movement
“In sustainable development, nothing is perfect. The Houses do their best to provide the best solutions while offering products that meet the expectations of customers,” said Sylvie. LVMH is committed to creating less pollution through their production process, and is focussed on the well-being of their employees, animals and the planet. At Christian Dior Beauté and Guerlain, for example, the teams worked to offer a refillable bottle in recyclable packaging, and some clothing brands use unsold products to create new, more up-to-date pieces. Franziska talked us through IWC’s new packaging initiative, explaining that “a new small travel pouch has 90% less plastic, with the other 10% recycled materials, so it’s good packaging that lasts forever. It was not easy to change that, and it was a huge project but it was worth doing.”
The panel was the perfect way to kick off Positive Week, with so many learnings from the people who are heading up the sustainable strategies at some of the world’s most respected brands. From production to packaging, they all showed that sustainability is integral to good business.
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Written by - Barbara Olivieri