Wake up: The time for sustainability in the luxury industry is now

November 11 hosts one of the largest retail events in the world–11.11 also known as Singles’ Day. A total of over $38 billion was made through online discount sales–with 331 million packages being delivered by various postal and courier businesses. In 2017, Alibaba made a whopping $25 billion in purchases–a 40% increase from the 2016 sales, totally crushing the total sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is great news for Alibaba and it’s clear that the Chinese consumer base has grown majorly but there was a downside to this massive moment. An estimated 160,000 tons of packaging waste came about as a result of the sales and deliveries that occurred on China’s Singles’ Day. Alibaba along with a number of other e-commerce companies have claimed to use environmentally friendly practices to alleviate the negative impact they have on the earth. Unfortunately, according to experts, these biodegradable products are only able to biodegrade under certain circumstances. Meaning many of these packages will end up in landfills, further contributing to the global waste problem.

In 1950, the world population was 4.5 billion people. 67 years later, in 2017, the population stands at close to 8 billion people. Who would have thought that the Earth would be inhabited by so many people? With the population increase came major advancements within the commercial markets, industrial field, and technology sector. One thing humans forgot to think about was the impact all our innovations would have on the environment. Climate change has become a blaring reality within the last couple of decades. But all hope is not lost. It is not too late for us to start taking action. I am optimistic about how we can preserve our world’s most valuable resources and I believe the fashion and luxury industry can play a major role in creating a sustainable earth.

The luxury market has always been a representation of power and sophistication. For centuries, luxury goods have been purchased and donned by royalty and the aristocrats of society. Many prestigious luxury brands that started off as small French or Italian family businesses have become empires within the luxury market.

These brands went from being multi-million dollar revenue brands to being brands worth tens of billions of dollars due to commercialization and globalization. Louis Vuitton is a great example to observe.

The company’s sales flew from $20 million in 1977 to almost $1 billion in 1987.

In 1987, a $4 billion merger took place between Louis Vuitton and Möet-Hennessy. This move gave Louis Vuitton the opportunity to expand its investments in the luxury business. After the merger, the company became known as LVMH. LVMH focused on growing and expanding from the 1990’s and into the 2000’s.

In 2017, LVMH was part of an acquisition that went down in history. A $13 billion dollar deal went through for the acquisition of major fashion and luxury brand Christian Dior. As of May 2017, the Louis Vuitton brand is worth $28.8 billion and its products continue to be among the most coveted items in the world

According to a 2016 report from Bain & Company, the market for personal luxury goods was an estimated $293 billion and it is projected to rise steadily in the coming years. Philip McMaster, the founder of McMaster Institute, said it best. “Luxury brands are about legacy.”

He admonished that we need to be aware of the potentially hazardous chemicals that we use to produce luxury products. These chemicals affect the land we use, the air we breathe, and our own personal health as well. It is clear that, that in the midst of globalization and expansion of the luxury market, attention needs to be given to the effect our actions are having on the planet.

This is the time for us to come together to come up with better and more affordable ways to create sustainability within the trading industry for all products–fashion, luxury, and technology.

While the technological and financial advancements within the luxury industry may be what the world needs, we also need to pay attention to the environment. How are we treating the land we use? What chemicals are we putting in our products? Is expansion happening at the Earth’s expense? These are questions that need to be asked and thought about.

When it comes to advancements in the luxury industry, AI is what will take the luxury industry to the next level. LUXSENS is providing price transparency within the new and secondary luxury market in order to lead the luxury world in the direction of responsible consumption. This will make room for great innovation and convenience in the trading of luxury products–both brand new and pre-owned. We have seen the way artificial intelligence has started to revolutionize the fashion and luxury industry.

When people think about sustainability they tend to only think about sourcing and utilizing eco-friendly materials. But that is only one part of the process of making sustainability a reality within the luxury industry. Sustainability starts from how we treat the environment; it must be taken care of. The care of the animals, the care of the land, the chemicals used during production–these are all things that need to be taken into consideration. Sustainability is about protecting the earth as a whole and the luxury market has a part to play in that. Fashion and textiles are considered the second largest contributors to pollution in the world–after oil. It accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. Changes need to be made within the way luxury items are produced.

The Kering Group is leading the way in creating a more sustainable future for the luxury industry and the earth as a whole.

“In our strategy, we want to reduce the environmental footprint by 40%”

At the Business of Fashion Summit, in Shanghai, Michael Beutler, Director of Sustainability Operation at the Kering Group, mentioned how half of this strategy is focused on bettering their current operations, while the other half is focused on incorporating more innovation. Some of these innovations have already been implemented in their modes of operation–e.g. recycling textiles–in order to make sustainability a reality. Artificial intelligence is gradually becoming a key contributor to making the world a better place.

The Earth’s survival depends on the actions we take today. Future generations are dependent on our efforts to make sustainability a global reality. If earlier generations had thought of sustainability during their time, we would not be having this conversation. But there is no point in dwelling on what should have happened. The best thing we can do is come together, creating a united force, to shifting the way we treat our land, our seas, and our air. We, as a collective within the luxury industry, must also come together to play our part in creating a more sustainable environment around us. Creating a better earth is a job for everyone, including you. You have a part you can play. We need your help and the Earth does too. The future is depending on it.

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