Since the founding of Louis Vuitton in 1854, the Maison has become synonymous with savoir-faire and visionary design. Throughout time the brand has continually embraced the notions of innovation, creativity and audacity; challenging the boundaries between craftsmanship, art, and design
Louis Vuitton has always been highly conscious of both respecting nature and embracing talent and craftsmanship. Since their first carbon footprint audit back in 2004, Louis Vuitton has been constantly innovating and, twenty years on, this still remains a priority; led by the central Environment Department they coordinate over 50 eco-champions across the business. The Maison is committed to the utmost quality across its business practices, as underpinned by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Responsible Production and Consumption, Climate Change, and Equal Employment.
The Maison’s culture is steeped in know-how, tradition, and innovation. Such values instinctively lead to the respect of human heritage and, first and foremost, nature. The vast majority of the materials used in Louis Vuitton’s products come from raw resources and the Maison is deeply committed to ensuring that these materials are available in the future.
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Reducing their environmental impact
The Maison is constantly innovating in order to sustainably reduce their environmental impact. The importance of improving a product’s environmental performance is just as crucial as the customer’s product experience. For example, the Horizon luggage includes a new, lighter weight that reduces CO2 impact by 20% per kilometre travelled. In order to minimise their impact on climate change, they are committed to reducing their carbon emissions, particularly in regard to product transportation and energy consumption in their buildings. This is aligned with LVMH’s Carbon Fund that helps the Maison invest in a variety of initiatives to reduce their energy footprint.
Investing in eco-friendly technology
Their reinforcement of eco-building policies continues on site, i.e. warehouses, workshops, offices, and their store network; in an effort to improve their overall environmental performance. Louis Vuitton has led the way by investing heavily in technology to assist with the reduction of energy consumption throughout their operations. They have achieved this by choosing the most efficient air cooling and heating systems and by the installation of solar panels and LED lighting across all built areas. Since COP21, they have also initiated a global programme to switch the lights off in the majority of stores from midnight to 7am.
Furthermore, Louis Vuitton has successfully reviewed its supply chain operations by selecting its logistics and transportation partners on preliminary environmental criteria based on their ability to create the least CO2 emissions and most effective environmental performance. They have reduced their CO2 emission in the last seven years from one third to one quarter as a result of the reduction of volume transported, the distance covered between workshops to stores and the selection of the lowest emission fleets for each mode of transportation.
Packaging is a large area of investment for Louis Vuitton. In recent years they have taken a closer look at the packaging they use in all processes. Packaging in the intermediary stages of transport and storage has been significantly reduced, and in some cases, eliminated completely. The Maison has created new FSC certified packaging for their customers, incorporating folded boxes which enable them to ship less volume and optimise storage space. A shopping bag launched in 2017 for the Vendôme flagship opening in Paris was manufactured with a unique paper that replaced 25% of the wood fibres with vegetable-tanned leather off-cuts that had been ground down to a powder. The bag remains recyclable and compostable. The fragments of matter visible on the surface give it a natural appearance, which is complemented by being very soft to the touch.
Leather suppliers meet the Leather Working Group protocol and 70% of tanneries are planned to be Leather Working Group certified by 2020, in compliance with environmental standards that promote sustainable and responsible business practices within the leather industry. Louis Vuitton, therefore, has a clear understanding of the origin of their raw materials. In 2003, LVMH and its Maisons signed to adhere to the United Nations Global Compact by adopting internal codes of practice and charters that provide a set of benchmarks throughout the organisation. All codes are regularly updated and include an Environmental Charter which was introduced in 2001 and a Supplier Code of Conduct which was introduced in 2008.
LVMH require that suppliers comply with the ethical principles set out in the Supplier Code of Conduct. This Code specifies that these requirements are to be respected by its suppliers, including all subcontractors, in the management of their business regarding; social issues (prohibition of forced labour and child labour, harassment and discrimination, measures related to wages, working hours, the free exercise of union rights, health and safety), environmental issues and operational issues (notably respect for laws, customs regulations, safety and subcontracting) and measures to fight corruption and illicit influence. This Supplier Code of Conduct gives LVMH and Louis Vuitton the right to conduct audits to ensure, as far as possible, that suppliers are compliant with these principles.
As the future is just as important as the past, Louis Vuitton uses revolutionary technologies and processes to modify their business and minimise their environmental footprint, such as automated cutting machines to reduce offcuts, solar energy, water plant treatment and designing all products to be repairable for enduring use. The Maison has created a waste reduction and recycling programme for materials including leather, canvas, textiles, and gold plated metallics. To minimise the quantity of ink required, they also use innovative fabric printing processes as well as utilising 3D prototyping in order to save material usage.
Louis Vuitton demonstrates their strong belief in giving back to the community and wider society through their long-term partnership with UNICEF. This programme named LOUIS VUITTON for UNICEF has raised more than 5 million USD since 2016 to help children in urgent need around the world.
Gender diversity is an integral part of the LVMH culture. In 2017, Louis Vuitton had already achieved LVMH’s target of 50% female employees in strategic corporate roles. Louis Vuitton, and the LVMH Group as a whole place particular emphasis upon developing the careers of women.
In 2013, the LVMH group and 32 of its Houses signed the United Nations’ global agreement on Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP). As a result, the Group is committed to making every possible effort to offer women and men the same opportunities to achieve their full potential by ensuring equitable treatment of both women and men and is demonstrated through financial compensation and benefits. The development of talent and equal opportunities have been well established throughout the business. This development includes L’Ecole des Savoir-faire Maroquiniers, a programme which was created in early 2010, with the objective of gathering all the Maison’s leather goods know-how to teach and inspire the next generation of craftsmen.
Craftsmanship for the Future
Furthermore, since 2015, 86 students have participated in the exceptional Institut des MÃ©tiers d’Excellence. This apprenticeship, inaugurated by the LVMH group, lasts up to two years across a number of divisions and disciplines, from manufacturing to sales and business development. These opportunities span leather goods, jewellery and couture.
Knowledge of traditional techniques and technological innovations are taught to students. All of which capture the different approaches to craftsmanship, which are in line with Louis Vuitton standards. A very good example of that is their care and repair service, as customers are encouraged to pass down their pieces throughout generations, the Maison’s leather goods know-how is passed to the next generation of craftsmen. With creativity and innovation at the core of the Louis Vuitton DNA, they are supremely confident in their ability to create products that are more desirable than ever. Their craftsmanship and everyday practices are completely aligned with their respect for the planet and a more sustainable world.