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How Luxury, Innovation, Sustainability and Quality go together?



Kirjoittanut: Emilia Parikka - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 12 minuuttia.

This essay dives into the world of Luxury fashion, from the perspective of innovation, sustainability and quality. While in exchange in Paris last autumn, I took a course with the name Luxury, Innovation, Sustainable Development and Quality, which worked as a base for this essay. Some of the topics this essay will dive deeply into is the concept of sustainability from a luxury brand perspective and the world of Metaverse.

The strength of Luxury sector

 

The strength of luxury sector can best be seen in the growth it has been making even through pandemic and a war. In 2020 during covid-19 the luxury market experienced its worst dip in history but bounced back quickly stronger than ever. (D’arpizio et al. 2021)

 

It has been estimated that the global luxury market would be growing in 2022 by 21% which equals to €1.4 trillion. From this unprehensable number, the personal luxury goods will succeed worth of €353 billion, equivalent to 22% growth. The luxury brands are focusing steadily to future growth and attracting the new coming markets like Gen Z as the generational factor is going to be critical for future development of the whole market. (D’Arpizio & Levato, 2022)

PIC 1: Chart Showing the rise in value of Luxury goods

 

As France has a long history in Luxury industry, it’s often considered as the capital of luxury market. To this image plays well the fact that brands wanting to produce Haute Couture, must have their atelier in Paris and Paris alone. Haute Couture is French for “high dressmaking” and the French are very protective over this term and only 14 brands have been able to get the Haute Couture label approved by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. Some of these brands include Chanel, Christian Dior, and Jean Paul Gaultier. (Explore France, 2021)

 

Louis 15th also known as the Sun King was a big influencer on French culture and fashion world. His extravagant lifestyle and style can still be seen today as a beginning to Haute Couture. Thanks to Louis the 15th the center of fashion moved to Paris from Madrid and France started to produce luxury products. (Chrisman-Campbell, 2015)

 

In France the Luxury industry is a huge part of the overall market and internal money flow, which isn’t so shocking when you consider many luxury brands originate to France, such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Cartier. Of these brands Louis Vuitton is number one in value with worth of €20,2 billion and Chanel as second with €13,16 billion.  Hermès and Cartier are not doing bad either, as the first was worth €11.64 billion in 2022 and the latter €10.71 billion. (Statista, 2022) Chanel alone had grown from €4,317 billion to €15,260 billion in the span of five years. (Sabanogly, 2022)

Luxury & Quality

 

Quality is in the core of luxury products and one of the main reasons people buy them as there is no comparison to the savoir-faire done by these brands with decades of history and craftsmanship. The quality however does not only transfer to the products, but also the services provided. Customer service experience at a Gucci store should be exceptional and incomparable to shopping experience at a normal clothing store. My Luxury Innovation course teacher Petronella Wijers described how a luxury brands should view their customers as an audience, to be given the best performance every time. The key to this high-quality service experience is building an emotional connection with the customer, through asking questions, giving them full attention, and adjusting to the tune of their form of interaction. The customer must feel comfortable at every stage of their journey, no matter if they end up buying something or not. The comfort is also created through keeping the experience of shopping mutual in all channels of the brand, online store, social media connections and at the boutique. This seamless co-operation of physical and digital world, also known as phygital is vital, in a modern world such as the one we live in currently. (Wijers, 2022)

Luxury & Innovation

 

Luxury fashion is usually in the forefront of innovations, such is the case of Neiman Marcus’ digital mirrors. In 2015 these Memory Mirrors took pictures of customers trying on clothes, so they could compare them next to each other, try on different colors and get a 360 view of how the garment looked on them. (Lewis, 2022) As virtual reality is coming more and more trendy, luxury brands like Dior are adapting it to their brand extensions. Dior eyes was introduced in 2015 as a way for customer to get behind the scenes of an actual Dior fashion show through VR glasses. (LVMH, 2015)

 

When it comes to innovation, luxury brands don’t only come up with new and innovative materials or ideas, they also adapt them into their business. Karl Lagerfeld was one of the first brands to use the 3D printing technology in creating his 2015 collection for Paris Fashion Week. (Ghia, 2022) Balenciaga’s 2018 Autumn/Winter collection was made of 3D printed pieces. As 3D printing produces almost no waste, it’s considered to be one option for fashion industry to become more sustainable. It’s very likely many luxury brands will be against 3D printing, as they pride themselves and their products with the high quality craftsmanship. Even if they would 3D print some parts or elements of their products, the 3D printer cannot match to the natural drape of a fabric and stitching, which are highly valued by the end consumers. (Low, 2022)

PIC 2: Metaverse picture

 

Innovation is also about interesting creations, such is the case of Schiaparelli, a brand of Italian origin, operating in Paris. Their Spring-Summer collection in 2023 showcased some bold colors for summer, such as deep red, strong gold and dark black. To being labeled as innovative, played in the choices of painting female body shapes with gold to black fabrics and using interesting structuring in the garments, such as pointed tits, made of twisting the fabric. Some of the fabrics had a 3D effect on them, made by either steaming the fabric or using rubber to make it wrinkle.

PIC 3: Mood Board of Schiaparelli Spring/Summer 2023 collection

Rise of the metaverse, virtual reality that will become part of our reality eventually, has had a revolutionary impact on the luxury fashion industry. Smart mirrors and 3D printing were starting points, to bringing technology and fashion together. Metaverses rise has made digital fashion a new reality, which breaks the boundaries of our physical world as materials such as liquid metal or fire can be used to construct fashion pieces. In September 2021 the Luxury fashion world and metaverse collided, as Kim Kardashian was entering Met Gala in a Balenciaga Haute couture gown, that Fortnite players noticed to be like an upcoming character in the game. After the internet was wondering what is going on, Balenciaga released their collaboration with Epic Games, bringing the designs of Balenciaga into the game. (Rijmenam, 2022)

This digitalisation of fashion has led to brands like Gucci, OffWhite and Balenciaga to accept Crypto as payment in the boutiques, as brands are bringing their collections to Metaverse along the physical world. There is now even a Metaverse Fashion Week, that sets the standard for upcoming fashion trends in the virtual reality. (Kombarova, 2022) The hype of the metaverse fashion has strongly been in creating skins to gamer avatars, such is the beginning on Dolce & Gabbana entering the Metaverse world. In the Metaverse Fashion Week 60 brands took part, some real-life luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana, but also digital-only designers. The biggest slowdowns for Metaverse to break it with the masses, is the general lack of understanding of cryptocurrencies, which are needed to buy the virtual fashion sold in the form of NFT’s. Second reason is, that the technology itself is not ready yet to adapt mass consumption. (Gandhi, 2022)

VIDEO 1: Illustration of Metaverse fashion

 

Luxury & Innovation in relation to counterfeits

 

In 2018 it was studied, that counterfeit products are equivalent of 30 billion dollars of lost sales to luxury brands and according to estimations in 2020 it would’ve been the magnitude of 1.82 trillion dollars. (Authena, 2022) Counterfeit production is heavily involved in organised crime, the products are usually poor quality as there is no regulations regarding the safety of the materials and it harms the intellectual property of a brand. Most brands have been fighting this issue, through legal measures, such as suing the producers and sellers of counterfeit products. Louis Vuitton has 40 lawyers and 250 external investigators fighting for the counterfeit issue constantly, which shows the magnitude of the problem. Ethical measures in use focus on educating consumers about the damages buying counterfeits supports and economic measures bringing in new technology to protect the brand from counterfeits. (Benabdeslem, 2022)

 

Luxury brands are willing to go lengthy measures to protect their brand from counterfeit goods, as they create a threat to brand image and a public health risk. To solve this problem, luxury brands are starting to use new technologies to make authentication processes even more secure. One of these methods is using NFC and RFID tags to supply chain. The NFC or Near Field Communication tags are used for exchanging information securely about product packaging. The RFIP label allows exchanging information from the package’s producer to the end user. NFT’s are being used to authenticate the physical item through a unique digital twin. (Authena, 2022)

 

NFT’s and Metaverse however have not only been able to solve the problem of counterfeits but creates a new playground for people to create fake items. This problem forced Hermes to start looking into moving their brand to the Metaverse to protect their brand image and immaterial rights, as an artist Mason Rothschild created an homage to Hermes, in the form of NFT’s very similar to the real Birkin bag. The artist said to do this to honor the legendary brand, but the brand saw this as creating counterfeit items. (Ykone, n.d.)

 

Luxury & Sustainability

 

In an interview with Kering Groups Chief Sustainability Officer Marie-Claire Daveu asked Camille Charrière, a key leader in fashion industry, what she thought people would want to hear from the luxury brands. Charrière brought up the fact that the luxury brands used to have everything shrouded in mystery and nothing about their production or materials could be known publicly. Now that the luxury world has responsibility to bring forward change, this is no longer an option. She emphasises how it’s not enough to create one product or one collection that is sustainable or eco-friendly, but it should go through all the production and brand. Charrière believes it’s the luxury world that should take the lead in change as it has the power to affect minds and build new mindsets. According to Daveu, Sustainability and luxury go hand in hand as when buying a luxury item, customer expects the production of the item to be respectful for the planet and the people producing it. (Kering Group, 2022)

PIC 4: Sustainability Quote

All brands, luxury brands included, feel immense pressure to join the sustainability norm, to ensure their brand’s survival. Luxury brands have a lot of money and some of them, instead of going green, end up greenwashing their way into the consumers new norm. This means using tuns of money to campaign about “green” and “sustainable” choices that have no facts backing the claims. Great ways to spot the greenwashing is tracing the claims, if there is nothing to prove it, it’s most likely false. Some of these claims are also very vague or irrelevant completely. (Ducker, 2022)

 

Some brands have however taken true steps towards sustainability, such is the case of Burberry and Stella McCarthy, who partnered with TheRealReal to push their customers for extending the life cycle of products purchased instead of constantly buying new once. (Dhamija, 2022)

 

Stella McCarthy has been praised as the star of sustainable luxury fashion for years, which makes sense as she has been voicing these issues way before any other luxury brand. The luxury brand has for example created a peace silk, which does not harm the moths in its harvesting. On their website they admit, using the silk has had some complications of it keeping together, even though it would be the most sustainable option they say. (Stella McCarthy, 2022) This peace silk is produced across the world, meaning the trip it takes to get the material to use is huge and has massive impact on the planet, so how sustainable is it really?

 

LVMH group started selling surplus leather and fabric form their luxury brands like Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, to fight against the waste created by production of luxury items. (Dhamija, 2022) In regard to innovation related to Sustainability Stella McCarthy has come up with alternative materials for leather, as the luxury brand does not use any leather, feather, fur, or skin to keep themselves cruelty-free. Mylo is a vegan leather like material, made of the underground root structure of mushrooms, this innovative material was used in Stella McCarthys 2018 Falabella bag production. (Stella McCarthy, 2022) In an article Dianna Shen rises the threat that vegan leather isn’t always automatically sustainable, as the amount of energy, chemicals and water needed to produce them, might create a problem of micro-plastic pollution. She states that, when compared directly with animal leather, the vegan leather is ofcource more sustainable option, and the best possible option is plant-based vegan leather, such as Mylo. (Shen, 2022)

 

Chloé is the only luxury brand that has been able to obtain B Corp status, which validates the company going green.  To get the B Corp certification is extremely difficult, which means a brand being able to obtain it, must be green. Some reasons behind Chloé getting the certification are them continues desire to push for more sustainable fashion at its all aspects. In 2017, the label organised a plastic free runway show and in 2020 they had a carbon neutral fashion show, as all they models were local. The company uses recycled materials and leftover fabrics in their production. This brand has also demonstrated their true meaning of not using B Corp status as a marketing tool, but rather a driver to take them even forward, as the company keeps finding ways to be more sustainable. (Pauly, 2022)

 

In way luxury brands are the perfect option for sustainable frontline fight as their production is done with high quality and exceptional craftsmanship, which minimizes the amount of waste fabrics in production and guarantees the long lifespan of an item. As part of luxury brands allure is their rarity and exclusivity, producing limited number of items, can potentially boost their value, instead of preventing sales. This plays well into sustainable production of custom-made pieces, instead of mass production. Wintermeier notes that luxury brands have necessary resources to create new innovations and take sustainability forward with force. (Wintermeier, 2022)

PIC 5: EP&L Measuring

Kering Group created an Environmental Profit & Loss Account for companies to see the financial benefits the sustainable approach will have eventually. This measures the environmental footprint and attends to generate a better way of thinking. It creates transparency and helps the company to see where the issues lay. Under examination to environmental footprint are things like waste, air pollution, land use, carbon emissions, water use and water pollution. These topics are measured in relation of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, assembly and operations and retail. This is turned to monetary value as it makes it easier for executives and stakeholders and demonstrates best places to implement initiatives and see over time where progress in being made. (Kering, n.d.)

 

These initiatives, innovations to track brands sustainability better and concretely see where the change could be made, shows that the luxury industry has desire to push for sustainability. It also shows the financial capability luxury brands have for sustainable practices and innovations. It strongly seems that the luxury industry will be in the forefront of sustainability, as these brands start to see the value it creates for them and their consumers. The most sustainable option for luxury brands would be moving their operations to Metaverse, as there is no product related pollution there.

Written By: Emilia Parikka

SOURCES:

 

Authena, 2022, Safely Pairing Luxury Product With An NFT In The Metaverse To Protect It From Counterfeiting, Article, Published: 11.05.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://authena.io/safely-pairing-a-luxury-product-with-an-nft-in-the-metaverse/

 

Benabdeslem, F. 2022, Fundamentals of Luxury Brand Management & Environment, Course, IPAG Business School, Paris France, Kept in Autumn 2022, Participated in Autumn 2022.

 

D’Arpizio, C. Levato, F. 2022. Global luxury goods market takes 2022 leap forward and remains poised for further growth despite economic turbulence, Press Release, Published: 15.11.2022. Read: 19.01.2023. https://www.bain.com/about/media-center/press-releases/2022/global-luxury-goods-market-takes-2022-leap-forward-and-remains-poised–for-further-growth-despite-economic-turbulence/

 

D’Arpizio, C. Levato, F. et al. 2021. From Surging Recovery to Elegant Advance: The Evolving Future of Luxury, Report, Published 10.12.2021. Read: 19.01.2023. https://www.bain.com/insights/from-surging-recovery-to-elegant-advance-the-evolving-future-of-luxury/

Dhamija, S. 2022, Inside luxury fashion’s sustainability evolution: Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Dior are offering eco-friendly designs, with celebrities from Billie Eilish to Emma Stone voicing their support, Article, Published: 31.07.2022, Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/luxury/article/3187074/inside-luxury-fashions-sustainability-evolution-gucci-louis

Ducker, n.d. The 10 Best Sustainable Luxury Fashion Brands for 2022, Article, Published: n.d. Read: 20.01.2023. https://rareandfair.com/blogs/the-slow-scoop/sustainable-luxury-fashion-brands

Explore Paris, 2021. Everything You Need To Know About Haute-Couture, Article, Published: 13.01.2021. Read: 19.01.2023. https://www.france.fr/en/news/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-haute-couture

 

Gandhi, S. 2022, Digital clothing: fashion’s newest trend, Article, Published: 24.08.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://mailchimp.com/courier/article/digital-fashion-virtual-skins-avatars/

 

Ghia, 2022, Ultimate Personalization: How 3D Printing is reshaping the Luxury Fashion, Article, Published: 08.02.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.appnova.com/how-3d-printing-is-reshaping-the-luxury-fashion-industry/

 

Kering Group, 2022, In Conversation with … Camille Charrière, YouTube video, Published 16.03.2022. Watched: 20.01.2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLkxBhjHfz0&t=3s

Kering, n.d. What is an EP&L?, Website, Published: n.d. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/measuring-our-impact/our-ep-l/what-is-an-ep-l/

 

Kombarova, I. 2022, How brands are using digital fashion in real life, Article, Published: 09.10.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://cointelegraph.com/news/how-brands-are-using-digital-fashion-in-real-life

 

Lewis, G. 2022, Magic mirrors and virtual art: modern luxury goes digital, Article, Published: 10.11.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.cxnetwork.com/cx-retail/articles/modern-luxury-goes-digital

 

Low, J. 2022, Have Luxury Goods Lost Their Allure Amidst New Emerging Technologies?, Article, Published: 09.03.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.luxuo.com/style/fashion/3d-printing-and-luxury-brands-impact.html

 

LVMH,  2015, Dior creates its own virtual reality headset, Article, Published: 12.06.2015. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.lvmh.com/news-documents/news/dior-creates-its-own-virtual-reality-headset/

 

Pauly, A. 2022, Chloé’s B Corp Certification Gets An A+ From Mother Nature, Article, Published n.d. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/chloe-b-corp-certification/

 

Rijmenam, M. 2022, Digital Fashion: The Next Frontier in Fashion, Article, Published: 10.08.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.thedigitalspeaker.com/digital-fashion-next-frontier-fashion/

 

Sabanogly, T. 2022. Global brand value of Chanel from 2017 to 2022, Published: 15.12.2022. Read: 19.01.2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1010860/chanel-brand-value-worldwide/

 

Shen, D. 2022, Is Vegan Leather Actually Sustainable?, Article, Published: 04.07.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.lofficielsingapore.com/fashion/vegan-leather-sustainability-stella-mccartney

 

Statista Research Department, 2022. Most valuable French brands worldwide in 2022, by brand value, Statistics, Published: 06.01.2023, Read: 19.01.2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/270750/most-valuable-french-brands/

 

Stella McCarthy, 2022. Website. Read: 20.01.2023. https://www.stellamccartney.com/gb/en/sustainability/silk.html

 

Wijers, P. 2022. Luxury Innovation, Sustainable Development and Quality, Course, IPAG Business School Paris, Participated: Autumn 2022.

Wintermeier, 2022, Luxury meets sustainability: Friend or foe? These brands say different Article, Published: 03.05.2022. Read: 20.01.2023. https://blog.crobox.com/article/unboxed/luxury-sustainability

Ykone, n.d. The world of the Metaverse: the new space of counterfeiting? Website, Published: n.d. Read: 20.01.2023. https://ykone.com/intel/the-world-of-the-metaverse-the-new-space-of-counterfeiting-2/

 

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