At the start of November, Greenpeace threw down the gauntlet to 15 top Italian and French luxury fashion brands, challenging these companies with 25 'uncomfortable' questions about their supply chains.
Why? Every day another piece of the Amazon is destroyed to clear the way for cattle ranching and the production of leather used to make our shoes, bags and belts. A similar chain of events takes place in Indonesia, where the habitat of the last Sumatran tigers is being trashed to make low-cost paper packaging. While in China, Mexico and other regions of the planet, hazardous chemicals used by the textile industry are polluting our precious water resources.
These dangerous business practices are putting our natural resources at risk and threatening people’s livelihoods and any companies involved should be held accountable for their actions. So we asked these brands to outline what measures they are taking to ensure that their products are not being tainted with forest destruction and hazardous chemicals.
Big brands caught off-trend
When it comes to fashion many consider brands such as Chanel, Prada and Dolce&Gabbana to be real trendsetters within the sector. How disappointing to discover that these brands are failing to take urgent and transparent action to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products. They are also failing to put in place concrete measures to eliminate deforestation from their supply chain.
Other brands, like Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton, have only presented a partial commitment: showing a real lack of ambition to become environmental leaders and dress the growing number of conscious consumers who are looking for fashion with a story they can be proud of.
But among these inadequate commitments and ugly truths, there is also some fantastic news. On Wednesday Valentino proved unequivocally that fashion free from pollution and rainforest destruction is not a luxury, but a must-have.
The Italian fashion giant made an ambitious and binding commitment to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020, and also made commitments with regard to its policies on the procurement of leather and pulp and paper.
These commitments are just the beginning and must be swiftly followed up by action on the ground to ensure that real change happens where it is needed most to help protect our life-giving waterways and beautiful rainforests.
But it is a fabulous first step and begs the obvious question: if Valentino can do it, why not the rest? Beautiful fashion does not need to cost the Earth.