Luxury Can Be Sustainable, Ethical and Good for the Soul
Fashion and jewelry brands embrace practices that benefit the environment, communities and customers
Luxury is often thought of as excessive, unnecessary consumerism. At times, it is just that. However, luxury isn’t inherently negative. In fact, luxury products often include high-quality materials, increased longevity and higher efficacy. In the past, luxury goods – especially in the fashion and jewelry industries – were built with the goal of being “luxe” without much regard for the environment or ethical production practices.
As consumers have become more eco-conscious, some luxury fashion and accessories brands have been criticized for not considering sustainability and practices that harm the environment or communities. Facing backlash, key players in various industries have pivoted to adopt better environmental practices, and sustainability has been added to the core values. In fact, some luxury fashion and jewelry brands have been built on the premise of sustainability, which has gained them loyal customers.
What are the benefits of sustainable luxury for brands?
Research shows that when brands move toward sustainability in the production of their goods and add sustainability to their core values, customers respond favorably in a couple ways. Typically, brands can raise prices without too much blowback from customers, as up to a third of consumers are willing to pay more for products made using sustainable practices. Also, providing sustainable goods can help foster trust in a brand. When a brand resonates with consumers, they are more likely to return again and again to make purchases. All of this makes sustainability good for business.
It’s good for customers, too. Seeking out sustainable luxury is a practical way to support one’s values without forgoing the products they love. Findings from Pew Research show that 75 percent of Americans care about the environment. Shoppers are also increasingly aware of how products are made and where they come from. When a customer makes the deliberate choice to buy a sustainable good or one that is made ethically, they feel that they’ve done the right thing by supporting a brand whose values – specifically sustainability – match their own.
Most importantly, the environment benefits from sustainable luxury. As brands work to improve their production methods in eco-friendly ways, they minimize the effect business can have on the environment, including reducing carbon footprints, eliminating some forms of waste and protecting wildlife and its habitats. At the core of sustainable luxury is the common goal of moving in the “green” direction. Ethical producers who value their workers and the communities they live in are also making a positive impact in our world. Brands that emphasize producing sustainable luxury goods are doing their part while still providing the high-end goods many consumers want to purchase.
National and International Sustainable Luxury Brands
Many luxury brands in the fashion and jewelry industries have successfully emphasized sustainability in their production, marketing and distribution. Whether you’re a customer looking for sustainable brands to shop with or a brand looking for successful examples of sustainable luxury brands, you need a good place to start. Here’s a list of sustainable luxury brands to look at:
Clean Origin: Sustainability practices in the diamond and jewelry industry include offering lab-grown gem options and utilizing a digital storefront. Clean Origin, a sustainable jeweler specializing in lab-grown diamonds, is a perfect example.
Stella McCartney: A sustainable luxury fashion brand should ban the use of animal skins or fur, ethically source their materials and utilize sustainable manufacturing processes. Stella McCartney does this expertly and is constantly seeking to improve its sustainability practices.
Von Holzhausen: Luxury handbag designers aiming to take on more sustainable practices should follow in von Holzhausen’s footsteps. The company is vegan and animal-friendly, utilizes recycled materials, is made to last and boasts a low carbon footprint.
Amara Tulum: Amara is an independent lifestyle brand. Its sustainability practices include utilizing recycled nylon recovered from fishing nets, prioritizing a low carbon footprint and designs reversible swimsuits.
No Animals Killed: NAK does sustainable luxury shoes better than anyone else. The company uses vegan and animal-friendly materials and focuses a low carbon footprint through its support of the Chilometre Zero scheme.
Local Sustainable Luxury Brands
Ubuntu Life: The founders of Ubuntu Life set out to support local artisans in indigenous communities in Maai Mahui, Kenya. Through their efforts, they are able to support their Ubuntu Foundation which provides health and education programs.
Fortress of Inca: This brand works to provide customers with ethically made shoes that are both stylish and built to last. Fortress of Inca’s shoes are handmade, fair trade and durable.
Noonday Collection: Working to alleviate the poverty in underprivileged communities throughout the world, Noonday has provided a steady income for skilled artisan jewelry makers throughout the world by committing to fair trade practices.
Slumlove Sweater Company: Another Kenyan based brand, Slumlove follows fair trade practices to support its employees, uses 100 percent organic recycled materials and supports scholarship programs in the developing country.
Bloom + Grace: Bloom + Grace focuses on the ethical elements of sustainability practices by working to employ artisans in communities that span the globe including developing communities in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.