Luxury

I have listened to Diana Verde Nietro speak at many events over the past couple of years and have been fortunate enough to sit down with her on a couple of occasions. Every time, it struck me how passionate and sincere her words were when we were talking one to one, without any audience or microphone. Diana and her team believe in their mission, which is to illuminate the brands that are making positive social impact and, in turn, put pressure on other companies to conform to this new mode of behavior.

For this reason, I am delighted to feature Positive Luxury on the Horyou blog…

Positive Luxury and its Butterfly Mark
Positive Luxury and its Butterfly Mark

1) One of the tag lines of Horyou is ‘Dream, Inspire, Act’. Tell us where the inspiration for Positive Luxury came from and what made you take action?

Positive Luxury was founded with the ambition to influence brands to do better and inspire and mobilize 2.5 billion wealthy consumers to buy better, from brands that care about people and the planet. My co-founder, Karen Hanton, and I wanted to combine our experience and knowledge to simplify sustainability and positively communicate the actions of brands directly to the consumer, through technology. Positive Luxury helps brands to talk about their values, and the Butterfly Mark allows consumers to instantly recognise brands they can trust, and discover the values that match their own.

2) Social impact and ESG (Environmental Social Governance) are quickly infiltrating the corporate business landscape, CEO’s are beginning to care, what has brought about this change?

In the past, sustainability was retrofitted into the organization – it took the form of philanthropy and supply chain management. However, today is a different matter. The visionary leaders of today believe that making their products or services responsibly – in other words, with minimum environmental impact and maximum positive impact on society – is the logical and only way to do profitable business. It is through these leaders that real and sustainable change will be effected. In 1987, The Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Back then, sustainable development was all about leadership – starting from the top and working down. Of course, supply chain is terribly important, but it pains me to see how it has become a distraction from the more important questions of corporate purpose, model and culture.

3) Tell us about what Positive Luxury are working on right now in the area of sustainability and luxury?

We’re working with brand members and online retailers across the areas of Fashion and Accessories, Watches and Jewellery, Travel and Hospitality, Beauty, Premium Drinks and Living to place the Butterfly Mark next to awarded brands product or services online. This enables the consumer to instantly recognize which brands embody luxury while protecting our planet’s resources, resulting in building trust, increasing brand loyalty and ultimately aims to increase sales. Everybody wins; brands, retailers, consumers and society at large.

Diana Verde Nieto, CEO of Positive Luxury
Diana Verde Nieto, CEO of Positive Luxury

4) Do you believe that millennials are driving the change and forcing businesses towards more transparent, ethical and sustainable business practices?

Absolutely, with a new buying generation comes new buying behavior patterns. As millennials (those born between 1982 and sometime in the early 2000s) reach the age where they have growing disposable income, the economy is registering a change in the expectations consumers have of brands. Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues, and twice as likely to check product packaging for sustainability performance.

5) The CEO of Kering luxury group Francois Pinault recently made the decision to make the results of their sustainability targets publicly available. Do you think this represents a sea change in how serious luxury brands are taking sustainability? That it is really becoming a core part of business as much as marketing or finance strategy would be?

Luxury brands take their responsibility very seriously, and we have seen a great change thanks to CEO’s recognising this. Sustainability is the most important question for any CEO; it depends much more on a company’s business model and corporate culture than on its policies and processes; and that it is embedded throughout the business, rather than operated as a separate department. Why? Today’s CEOs are increasingly convinced that climate change and resource scarcity are critical issues; in this year’s Global CEO Survey by PWC, 46% agreed that these issues will “transform their business” (rising to between 62% and 76% amongst those in extractives, paper and packaging).

6) Horyou support people acting on their dreams, what is the ultimate goal of Diana Verde Nieto for Positive Luxury?

To make the Butterfly Mark famous globally and for my team to keep growing but remain as hungry and humble as we are on day one. As you can see, the ethos of Positive Luxury is very similar to that of Horyou. Diana realised that constant consumerism in a finitely resourced world cannot exist but there are alternatives. It is often the easiest solutions that are hardest to find, so it takes time, energies, commitment and team work to keep going. Positive Luxury has found the alternatives to fast fashion and with every Butterfly Mark awarded, the revolutionary wheel is turning.

We wish Diana and Positive Luxury every success.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

CEO of Kering Group Francois Pinault
CEO of Kering Group Francois Pinault

In 2012, the luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group Kering made a bold and pioneering move in the world of corporate social responsibility as they set themselves a series of sustainability targets to achieve over a four year timeline. Not only that, but they announced they would also publish the results at the beginning on 2016. At a time of increasing pressure from discerning customers and in turn increasing competition in the area of sustainable fashion, it was done with the goal of driving the brand toward higher levels of economic, environmental, ethical and social performance.

Among the targets set out was strict monitoring of their supply chain processes by evaluating suppliers every two years, reducing carbon emissions by 25%, being PVC free by 2016, completely eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2020 and having 100% of their gold, diamonds, leather and fur ethically sourced. Ambitious to say the least but the CEO of the group Francois Pinault even said that as a commercial business, investing in this reorganization of priorities and systems was a no-brainer if they wanted to continue to capture market share.

Panel discussion Parsons University
Panel discussion Parsons University

Ahead of the publication of the results at a fireside chat in Parsons University, New York, he said that “in the year 2015, sustainability is opportunity. We can create value for our shareholders, customers, employees and the planet, and that is what we as a group want to deliver”.

Pinault said that these targets have impacted on every facet of the company. There has been a complete overhaul in governance from top level down, to reflect the goals set out in the report. In addition to tracking the end product across the production line, management have been incentivised with bonuses for sustainability performance. This represents a significant sea change, where employees are rewarded for hitting targets that are not directly profit related.  

Also in a conversation with Pinault at the University was Executive Dean Joel Towers, he said that “you cannot get through a course at Parsons without studying sustainability at some point”. This is significant for two reasons .Not only is Parsons one of the leading fashion design schools of the world and therefore a key driver of trends, but the fact that students are leaving and going into their respective industries with sustainability practices ingrained as a part of any business is important.

Kering luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group
Kering luxury, sport and lifestyle apparel group

Education facilities, like Parsons, have the opportunity and also the responsibility to cultivate a belief system in their students where they realize that in order to succeed in the marketplace of any industry of the foreseeable future, they will need to appreciate consumer demand for sustainability. Francois Pinault concluded: “We will enhance and expand our sustainability efforts and strive to create broader environmental and social value, proactive in our contribution to solving global challenges and helping catalyze change”.

As Horyou is the social network also trying to connect the people of the world to catalyze change, we commend Kering for their efforts so far and wish them continued success.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

More Stories

A two-day event will discuss challenges faced by children in urban areas; they will include a Hackathon and roundtables on innovation. The United Nations Children’s...