Kering

overall rating:

2.5

planets

Marissa Gailitis
3/1/2022
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THE VERDICT: Kering operates quite sustainably and has clear strategies and plans to continue improving their materials and processes.

 

Kering is a luxury apparel corporation that houses the high-class designer labels Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Brioni. Priding itself on being an industry leader for sustainability, I thought it would be fun to explore how the luxury group’s efforts truly stack up.

What it's made of:

2

As a group overlooking numerous luxury brands, the products and materials under Kering’s umbrella vary significantly.  Textile materials range from cashmere wool to polyester, while watches, jewelry, and glasses for the group vary in different types of metals.  

The organic materials such as wool and cotton are sourced well, courtesy of funds supporting NGOs in the organic industry, biodiversity initiatives, and regenerative agriculture.  Additionally, to offset the industry’s land and material usage and encourage a healthier future for the environment, Kering has launched a biodiversity initiative that protects three times its land usage by protecting and regenerating “1M hectares of critical, irreplaceable habitat outside of their supply chain”.  This was launched in 2017, slated to be completed by 2025; a current update could not be found.

Synthetic fibers are derived from fossil fuels and are incredibly unsustainable, as they require many toxic chemicals and a high water usage throughout their production process and release chemical and particulate (via microplastics) pollution throughout the product’s production, manufacturing, and use life.  The issues with synthetic materials are being addressed through Kering’s Material Innovation Labs, which have worked to create better alternatives to these materials which are made available for any company within the group to utilize.

The Group has partnered with the Responsible Jewelry Council and Cartier to launch the “Watch and Jewelry Initiative 2030” to build climate resilience by decreasing carbon usage, to preserve resources, and to foster inclusiveness throughout the supply chain.  The initiative is open to any company that is willing to join the initiative, opening the possibilities for more sustainable accessories to the whole industry.  The steps taken to achieve these goals, however, are already goals underway in the rest of Kering’s group as part of the 2025 strategy, making me question the need to reiterate the plans under a different name.  The only difference between the Watch and Jewelry Initiative 2030 and Kering’s sustainability strategies for 2025 seems to be that the Watch and Jewelry Initiative encourages other companies to hop on board under a more relaxed timeline.  Considering the price and perceived quality of Jewelry sold by Cartier and Kering as well as the known existing sustainable infrastructure in the industry, I am surprised that these strategies are not already in place.

To encourage more circularity of materials and products, Kering has launched a number of programs and strategies to reduce unnecessary production.  First, each company within Kering offers product repairs to encourage the longevity of the luxury products.  Additionally, Kering works with Vestiaire Collective, a leading second hand fashion store, and numerous other organizations to increase the lifespan of products after the initial purchase, or recycle garments if their lifespan is over.  Lastly, Kering works with members of organizations like Microfiber Consortium to the Apparel Impact Institute, Fashion for Good, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to see how they can better improve their circularity tactics.

There is an acknowledgement of a lack of transparency through the entire supply chain, mainly in the lower raw material production area. This has been addressed by the company, accompanied with a plan to achieve full transparency.

How it's made:

2.5

Kering has partnered with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to put together an analysis tool called the Environmental Profit and Loss Account (EP&L).  This tool helps Kering as well as other industry leaders understand and measure their environmental impact throughout the entire supply chain process from raw material production all the way to the stores’ and warehouses’ operations. This tool allows companies to quantify their environmental impacts in dollars, identify their areas for improvement, provide more transparency to their customers, and even model the implications of future decisions. 

Through the EP&L report, we see that the largest amount of land use is during raw material production, GHG emissions are primarily released during raw material production and processing, while water consumption and pollution is largely seen in product assembly and raw material processing and production.

Kering has a Climate Action Plan that overlooks most of the sustainability strategies, broken down as a goal of being carbon-neutral by 2030 to be achieved primarily through material circularity and the biodiversity restoration project.

In efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, Kering has started working towards a “net zero GHG emissions” campaign, with numerous carbon offset programs, like REDD+, which works to preserve land and restore habitat in numerous threatened bio-diverse areas (this is the same initiative mentioned in “What it’s made of”).  Additionally, Kering has launched a “Clean by Design” initiative that works to improve the energy and water efficiency in different textile mills.  So far, “Clean by Design” has improved 24 mills so far, and reduced 19% of GHG emissions just from 2015 to 2018.  The most recent update on this program that I could find on the website said that the initiative is still working, and currently extending to mills located in Asia.

Who makes it:

3

With a strong emphasis on diversity, Kering proudly boasts that women occupy 55% of Group leadership roles, 55% of positions within the Board of Directors, and 33% of chairs within the Executive Committee.  In an ideal world, we would see at least 50% across the entire hierarchy including the Executive Committee, but this ratio is quite good for today as we move towards that societal ideal.  

Additionally, with a strong code of Ethics, Kering provides annual ethical training sessions for all employees, and ensures that all employees have their rights throughout the supply chain all over the world.  They have addressed issues like modern slavery as well as introduced their own human rights policies and standards throughout the group.  These official statements and documents can be found on Kering’s “Human rights in the supply chain” page (linked below).

Additionally, Kering has started a nonprofit organization called The Kering Foundation to continue societal improvement.  It aims to address female-targeted violence through location-specific programs (to account for different needs and customs that come with the areas), addressing gender norms and stereotypes, funding organizations and startups, and more.  I think that this foundation is groundbreaking for a fashion company, as the group addresses that just giving their employees basic human rights isn’t enough.  I was impressed with the projects I learned about by looking through the Foundation’s site, especially since they addressed macro-scale problems through individuals and communities.

Kering also funds training programs on cultural craftsmanship skills and traditions to preserve the heritage of local communities that the group operates out of.  Examples of some of these programs are listed on the “Collaborate” portion of the website.  Additionally, to keep new ideas circulating, Kering also regularly hires new University graduates.  All employees also receive 14 weeks of paid parental leave when they have a baby.

Sources:

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/crafting-tomorrow-s-luxury/2017-2025-roadmap/create/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/crafting-tomorrow-s-luxury/2017-2025-roadmap/collaborate/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/crafting-tomorrow-s-luxury/2017-2025-roadmap/care/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/measuring-our-impact/our-ep-l/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/measuring-our-impact/our-ep-l/app-my-ep-l/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/measuring-our-impact/our-ep-l/what-is-an-ep-l/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/measuring-our-impact/our-ep-l/results/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/safeguarding-the-planet/biodiversity-strategy/

https://keringcorporate.dam.kering.com/m/6b254da158b2d217/original/Kering-Biodiversity-Strategy.pdf

https://www.keringfoundation.org/en/

https://www.keringfoundation.org/en/programs/gendes/

https://www.keringfoundation.org/en/programs/supporting-survivors/

https://www.iucn.org/theme/nature-based-solutions

https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/WCC-7th-001-En.pdf

https://www.kering.com/en/news/clean-by-design-2017

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/innovating-for-tomorrow/circularity-ambition/

https://us.vestiairecollective.com/

https://www.kering.com/en/news/vestiaire-collective-announces-a-new-eur178m-us-216m-financing-round-backed-by-kering-and-tiger-global-management-to-accelerate-its-growth-in-the-second-hand-market-and-drive-change-for-a-more-sustainable-fashion-industry

https://www.kering.com/en/news/cartier-delegated-by-richemont-and-kering-launch-the-watch-and-jewellery-initiative-2030

https://www.responsiblejewellery.com/

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/people-in-the-supply-chain/human-rights-in-the-supply-chain/