The sustainability movement is gathering momentum around the world. Some companies that produce luxury brands are moving towards more ecologically responsible and sustainable business operations. Signet, a company specialising in product embellishment, for instance, uses eco-friendly products like wooden medals for package luxury products. Given this initiative, is it possible for a luxury product to be sustainable? Some well-known brands argue that it is.
The Idea of Sustainable Luxury
Luxury brands like Guerlain, an exclusive French perfume company, encourage its customers to return the product packaging instead of throwing it away. The company then dispatches these packages for recycling and recovery.
Cosmetic companies are not the only ones implementing sustainable practices. Belvedere, a Polish rye vodka brand, converted its Polmos Zyrardów oil-dependent distillery to run on natural gas to improve energy efficiency.
On the surface, one would see the idea of ‘sustainable luxury’ as an oxymoron. The word luxury, after all, comes from the Latin word luxus, which means excessive. Then again, sustainable products share certain qualities present in luxury goods: an emphasis on craftsmanship, durability and origin.
Before luxury brands started to resemble huge corporations, people associated them with meticulous artisanship, cultural heritage and strong family values. While these qualities hold true, one must add that the social and ecological innovations are required to ensure a sustainable future.
The luxury industry can act as a catalyst towards a more sustainable planet. In Europe, luxury industry revenues surpassed €220 billion in 2014. French brands thrive in this sector, with LVMH leading the pack boasting revenues of over €29 billion. A business of this scale can certainly have a huge influence on consumer lifestyles and attitudes by making sustainability an important aspect of their narrative on luxury products.
Becoming a Sustainable Luxury Brand
Businesses looking to produce sustainable luxury brands should think of novel ways to make their products eco-friendly. One good example would be to decrease the reliance on non-renewable resources and increase resource productivity. This means acquiring more goods or services from fewer energy resources.
It is possible for sustainability and luxury to go hand in hand. The business case for sustainability may compel companies to switch to ‘green solutions’ as it can increase bottom line through cost reductions and efficiency.