If I could go back in time and ask, I'm sure Guccio Gucci never in his wildest dreams would have thought that his small luggage company would grow to a global luxury brand carrying such cultural significance.
The Italian brand gave us iconic products like the Jackie bag, horse-bit loafers which have become a recent wardrobe staple, and oversized glasses, - which I like to privately call the Elton Glasses because I mostly associate those with the British singer-songwriter.
Over the last decade, Tom Ford, Frida Giannini and now Alessandro Michele have been at the helm as designers, but I have to say it’s almost as if Michele brought life into the brand with his creative direction. At the risk of sounding biased, one cannot deny the scale at which Gucci has expanded and evolved under Alessandro’s leadership and one such development is their step towards sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Besides stepping away from an intense fashion show schedule to a more compact 2 shows a year system, the brand has done a lot more to make a positive impact. Since 2015, Gucci has been working towards a more environmentally sustainable model as part of its 10-year Culture of Purpose strategy with goals like wanting to reduce its environmental footprint by 40%, aligning with their parent company Kering's standards for raw material and manufacturing processes and developing eco-friendly sourcing practices through disruptive innovation.
The major changes began a couple of years ago. As part of their initiative to do better for its people and the planet, Gucci launched a new platform called Gucci Equilibrium to spread more awareness about the change in their practices and how these new efforts would benefit their work and help them achieve their goals by 2025. 2018 was also the year the Italian fashion house declared that they would adopt a fur-free policy for their collections.
The brand put forward a statement declaring that from January 2018 they would no longer use fur derived from animals bred or caught for their fur (mink, coyote, fox). The new Spring/Summer 2018 collections and onwards were all fur-free and fur items remaining in their inventory were sold as part of a charity auction. Apart from fur, the brand reported a reduction in environmental impact and energy usage through their Gucci Scrap-less programme, designed to make their leather production more efficient. Vogue reported that between 2018 and 2019, the brand was able to save and repurpose up to 22 tons of leather scraps from factories and warehouses!
Their efforts to upcycle and repurpose fabric is further evidenced in their most recent venture to promote circular fashion. The Gucci Off The Grid collection is their first line of ready-to-wear apparel, accessories and travel gear created with recycled, repurposed, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials. Modelled by musicians like Miyavi, environmentalists like David De Rothschild and activists like Jane Fonda – the collection focuses on high-quality everyday outfits, made to last for more than one garment "lifecycle". Keeping with the circular practice, Gucci even recycles off-cuts from the manufacturing process for this collection into their Fabric Take Back programme. While creating recycled and bio-based products may not be easy for all fashion brands, luxury brands like Gucci, Burberry and Stella McCartney are teaming up with reselling platforms to encourage clients to buy pre-loved products and work together to reduce the impact of producing more.
Gucci's partnership with online reseller The RealReal has led to an online shop for customers to buy pre-loved Gucci pieces designed by creative director Alessandro Michele until the end of 2020 (hopefully this extends into the next year!). The whole concept of investing in luxury products is based on the fact that these products are made with high-quality materials that are meant to last a lot longer than ones found on the high-street. Not sending them forward into new homes defeats the purpose of the inherent longevity of high-end products in our books. The resale market and model further aligns with Gucci's 2025 goals to reduce resources used to produce a product and thereby reduce the impact on the environment.
A final piece the brand is leaving behind in 2020 in its journey towards a reduced environmental impact, Gucci has introduced new sustainable packaging for their products bought online or in-store. Moving away from the monochromatic paper gift box and ribbon, the new gift boxes are made with paper and cardboard sourced from sustainably managed forests. Not one to compromise on The Unboxing Experience that I'm sure we all look forward to – the new boxes are decorated in ornate green patterns, the colour was chosen to limit the use of toxic inks printed on uncoated paper making it completely recyclable. Dustbags are now made with regenerated cotton and recycled polyester handles making it easier to avoid the use of glue to keep the packaging together. If you're buying Gucci this holiday season, don't worry about putting together fancy packaging – Gucci's got you covered.
To learn more about how Gucci is working towards their goals and making a positive impact, visit Gucci Equilibrium.