Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu Shares Why Sustainability Matters in Fashion

This article is part of a series of interviews, “Future Tech for Good.” The interview is from WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, focusing on future technology for social good - #FutureTech4Good.

For Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of international institutional affairs at Kering, luxury and sustainability are inseparable. Luxury brands of Kering’s like Gucci and Balenciaga are expected to already incorporate the highest standards of corporate social responsibility and sustainability into everything they do. And to Daveu, helping to shift the industry into a new paradigm where sustainability is core to business is key.

Marie-Claire Daveu onstage at Web Summit with Derek Mead, VICE's Global Executive Editor 
Marie-Claire Daveu onstage at Web Summit with Derek Mead, VICE's Global Executive Editor 
“We need to work with universities, with NGOs, and with other companies to find solutions. Transparency is key. Transparency leads to collaboration which leads to the solutions we all need. It’s not a selfish or competitive approach. You have to share your innovation.” - Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering

As a company championing change across the fashion industry, Kering has taken steps that make sense from both a business and ethical standpoint. To emphasize how important it is to their long-term success, they developed a comprehensive and measurable 2025 Strategy for sustainability.

“Consumers are becoming more and more engaged and conscious about the issues thanks to the media and social media,” Daveu notes. “We feel because we are in luxury and because luxury sets the trends, we have a specific responsibility to help show the way, to be an example, and to be sure in these new trends that sustainability is really included.”

Daveu also points out that being a responsible company is important to Millennials and Generation Z because these groups demand more transparency and details, and are strong believers in sustainability.

“Sustainability is not doing a one-off collection, but it’s really about embedding practices into the entire supply chain, so that it is automatically embedded into products,” Daveu explains.

Kering has been working with the National Resources Defense Council and its suppliers since 2014 on Kering’s Clean by Design program to improve water and energy efficiency at textile mills. Part of the plan was a resource efficiency audit by plant, resulting in more than 150 energy and water efficiency improvements with an average 2.5 year’s return on investment. Kering is implementing a 100% phase-out of fossil fuels, and the program has already resulted in an average 12% reduction in CO2 emissions per textile mill.

“If we look at the most important issues of our century they will be climate change, loss of bio-diversity, resource scarcity, population growth, demand growth. So even if you’re not convinced for ethical reasons, you understand very quickly that if you want to continue to develop your business, you need to change your business model to be more eco-efficient, and be part of the paradigm change,” Daveu says. “It’s not to raise awareness, and it’s not philanthropy, it’s a way to do business. It’s a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.”

Part of the Kering executive team’s compensation is directly tied to meeting the metrics within the 2025 plan. Goals include reducing Kering’s environmental footprint by forty percent across its entire supply chain, a fifty percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and full traceability of raw materials.

Summing up her passion for this shift in sustainability focus for the fashion industry, Daveu emphasized, “A strategy for 2025 is not traditional. In our industry we are used to thinking in terms of next season, and now we’re asking people to think about the next ten years. It’s critical we look to the future and transform fashion, sustainably.”

This "Future Tech for Good" article and the rest in the series can be found across the internet and social media using the hashtag #FutureTech4Good. And if you have thoughts, ideas, photos, or insights to share from #WebSummit2017 or about #socialgood or #nptech, please connect with me on social media! @CharityIdeas on Twitter, @amyneumann on Instagram, @CharityIdeas on Pinterest, and Amy Neumann on LinkedIn.

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