Luxury brands are taking a more thoughtful approach to their business, from sustainable practices to upcycling programs to conscious consumption and beyond.
By Sari Anne Tuschman for Wynn Magazine
The rough and ever-changing tides of the last few years have had an effect on nearly every business imaginable; no one, including the fashion industry, has been immune. But what has risen to the surface is perhaps a softer, more thoughtful and human approach to all things sartorial from some of the biggest luxury brands in the market.
Whether it’s a commitment to more sustainable practices or simply responsible actions in the age of a pandemic, brands across the industry are making a statement as to how they conduct themselves as a company. Customers are becoming savvier about the consequences of what they wear, who makes it, and where it comes from. At the same time, brands are taking a stand and taking action, proving that the world of fashion is about more than the finest fabrics and design lines—it can make a statement far beyond what someone actually puts on their body.
“I think we—stylists, designers, brands—are all taking a hard look at ourselves and our businesses,” says celebrity stylist Jill Lincoln, who, along with partner Jordan Johnson, works with Jennifer Garner, Ewan McGregor, Anna Kendrick, Rachel Brosnahan, Margaret Qualley, and other A-listers. “We are all going through a period of needing more substance from brands. I can speak for myself and many of our clients. I no longer just want to buy shoes because they’re pretty and/or functional. I want my support and purchases to benefit a greater and more humane purpose.”
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND LOUIS VUITTON OTHER HIGH-END BRANDS, INCLUDING ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND LOUIS VUITTON, are also finding ways to rethink and reuse.
At McQueen, surplus fabric goes toward helping the next generation of designers flourish. Instead of disposing of leftover textiles McQueen donates them to fashion universities in the U.K. so the students can use them in their work.
“The ethos at Alexander McQueen is that everything we use in researching and designing collections has always been archived and stored,” says Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen’s creative director “We’ve never thrown anything away.”
Now, those pieces further the relationship between the brand and sartorial students, something that is important to Burton, who opened a space for installations, talks, and workshops in McQueen’s Bond Street store in London at the beginning of last year.
“It’s reminded me of being a student, and how tough it is when you can’t afford to buy fabric for your final collection,” she says. “I was so lucky because when I first worked at McQueen, Lee [Alexander McQueen] helped me source fabrics for mine. It’s even harder today, at a time when we all feel precious resources must be properly used.”
"I no longer just want to buy shoes because they’re pretty and/or functional. I want my support and purchases to benefit a greater and more humane purpose.” – Celebrity stylist Jill Lincoln
Louis Vuitton, too, has found thoughtful ways to repurpose both its fabrics and even its sets in an effort to get the most out of the resources it uses. Extra fabric is given a new form and new life via Vuitton’s Be Mindful initiative, a capsule collection of excess textiles creatively reinvented into fashion jewelry. Given the fact that all of the pieces are created using upcycled materials, each is one of a kind.
Further proving the myriad ways in which top luxury labels are redefining how to approach sustainability and be thoughtful in their actions, Louis Vuitton is making the most of the materials used in its runway shows. The women’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection used pine wood sourced entirely from sustainably managed forests in the Landes region of France. Post-show, the wood was donated to ArtStock, which recycles and upcycles elements from artistic productions in an effort to protect the environment. The wood used in the women’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection—including the catwalk and tiered stage—was later donated to French charities.
“With time and education, the fashion community has taken drastic steps to reinvent our business wheel,” says Lincoln. “We still have a long way to go, but there are so many new and existing brands who are dedicated to making permanent changes.”