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Is Sustainability The New Frontier For Luxury Brands

Environmental conservation isn’t typically associated with luxury brands. Since its inception, responsible resource consumption has been viewed as secondary in an industry characterised by excess. In the wake of the lockdown, the importance of protecting our planet by making ethical choices has been increasingly evident, and we’ve witnessed major luxury brands embrace sustainability. Consumers are aware fashion is the world’s second-largest polluter behind the oil industry. With this information, they want to see how businesses are helping the planet and making the world greener. This is one of the most pressing concerns for millennials and Generation Z consumers, who drive a staggering 85% growth of global luxury sales. Luxury brands must align with their customers’ values to connect with them genuinely and meaningfully.

Millennials pay careful attention to the environmental and social impact of their buying decisions and habits and will easily bypass any brand that doesn’t reflect their values and views. In recent years, sustainability has become a common theme in all industries, and the luxury sector is no different. Sustainability practices are becoming the norm for many designers, who are reinventing their methods from materials to sourcing, processing and transportation. Brands are using recycled materials in shopping bags and LED lighting in stores. Other reforms enacted throughout the industry will set it on a more ethical, responsible and cleaner path. There are three pillars of sustainability: economy, society and environment. The transition to sustainability hasn’t been easy for many luxury brands. But some are developing innovative solutions to balance luxury and tradition whilst keeping the environment in mind.

Luxury fashion brands demonstrating sustainable fashion :


Sindiso founded her sustainable fashion brand in 2015, inspired by African history and focusing on sustainable textiles and crafts. She works closely with NGOs and small workshops in South Africa and Burkina Faso to produce handwoven and hand embroidered textiles and designs. Sindiso is known for her exceptionally composed garments she hand-draws and -paints, which tell stories of phenomenal Black women who were left out of history.

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As one of the leading pioneering brands to combine sustainability with luxury, Stella McCartney doesn’t compromise on sustainability and pushing boundaries is always at the forefront of its mission. As a result, the company has collaborated with numerous environmental action organisations. Additionally, it introduced a labelling system, Clevercare, in 2014, which simplifies the process of caring for and prolonging the life of clothing to make it more sustainable.

Stella McCartney (Photo by Getty Images)


UNI FORM uses fashion as a medium to explore architecture and structure. Luke Radloff’s designs focus on quality first combined with exaggerated silhouettes and mainly natural fibres. UNI FORM’s production process prioritises collaborations that contribute to sustainability in fashion. A few examples include collaborations with Barrydale Hand Weavers and The Wren Design, both exploring sustainable production in South Africa.

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Through her luxury footwear label, Aurora James keeps traditional African design practices and techniques alive. A diverse group of artisans create the collections, including those from South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Haiti and New York. As part of its commitment to reducing its impact on the planet, the brand uses vegetable-tanned leather, soling from recycled tires, hand-carved wood, floral-dyed feathers and other by-product materials from farmers worldwide. Some of the world's most stylish women, including Solange Knowles and Meghan Markle, wear the Brooklyn-based label.

Brothers Vellies Presentation for Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week (Photo by Getty Images)

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