Endangered Luxury: The Business of Climate Change


Endangered Fashion

Climate change is at the forefront of everyone’s agenda. It has reached the point where no action will result in devastatingly disastrous consequences to humanity. For the private sector, adaptation to the changing environment and the implementation of ambitious climate strategies is non-negotiable if companies wish to succeed in our rapidly evolving world. One industry that is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change is the luxury fashion sector, primarily due to the industry’s reliance on agricultural production for raw materials. In advance of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, Kering and BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) released a report which examined the key vulnerabilities of the luxury fashion sector. Here is what you need to know:

+ The Raw Material Imperative
The luxury fashion industry is heavily dependent on the availability of high quality raw materials. The Kering BSR report identified that vicuna, cotton, cashmere, beef leather, sheep and lamb leather and silk are the key raw materials which are most at risk in terms of availability and quality due to the impact of climate change. Additionally, some raw materials are sourced almost exclusively from restricted geographic ranges or supplied by producers in developing economies. A number of raw materials suppliers are even more at risk because they lack economic infrastructure required to develop systems designed to help mitigate the effects of climate change on raw materials, for example temperature control during the rearing of livestock. This means that the luxury fashion industry and users of at risk raw materials will need to develop resilience agendas in their own business strategies.

Vicuna, cotton, cashmere, beef leather, sheep and lamb leather and silk are all at risk.

+ The Resilience Agenda
The Kering BSR report identified the following three key areas in which the luxury fashion industry can prepare for the significant impacts of climate change:
+ invest in targeted raw material resilience
+ prepare operations for low-emissions future
+ make climate change irresistible

While the ability to invest in raw materials and prepare operations for low-emission futures are not specific to the luxury fashion industry, the luxury fashion industry is in a unique position to influence society and catalyse powerful action. Internationally recognised as an influencer, the luxury fashion industry has the opportunity to redefine the concepts of luxury in a way that is more climate and planet friendly. It is time for action and change.

To read the full report, click here.