WA:IT seems like the quintessential eco-chic brand which we see popping up all over the place: it’s sustainable, all-natural, and embodies a clean, minimalist aura (and a not-so-minimalist price tag). It fuses Japanese and Italian approaches to beauty and wellness, and the HITO Eau de Parfum reflects that not only through a supply chain limited to Italy and Japan, but also a scent that aims for an elevated spirituality as well as fragrance. WA:IT is extremely transparent about its ingredients, and has tried different sustainable approaches before settling on their current practices. Basically, this perfume is perfect for the high-end consumer interested in sustainability and wellness.
One thing, though: there is slight uncomfortable feeling I get from the verbiage of the Japanese inspiration. It seems like a potential co-opting of the almost stereotypical wellness aura of the ‘Far East’ without including corporate Japanese leadership or describing the labor/economic support of the Japanese part of the supply chain. WA:IT is creating their own wealth partially from Japanese ingredients, labor, and culture, and seeing economic or social benefits given back to their Japanese counterparts is essential to true sustainability.
The HITO fragrance is made of all-natural vegetable derivatives, boasting zero synthetic or harmful chemicals. These include yuzu, fig, and peony, continuing with the Japanese vision of the company. The essential oils of these and other “strictly selected” raw materials are extracted through steam distillation. Perhaps the most sustainable part of this product, however, is the packaging, through with the minimalism of WA:IT truly comes through. It is simple packaging, with no extraneous labelling or materials, produced with sustainable materials. The cardboard is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (which means it should be sourced responsibly from a sustainably managed forest, but FSC has run into many accusations of providing cover for unsustainable and even illegal logging operations), and it is completely recyclable and biodegradable; the glass bottle and wooden cap are recyclable and reusable, made in Italy; the paper labels are “100% tree-free” and completely recycled; and their paper cards and brochures are all made of 100% recycled paper. Obviously the amount of recycled and recyclable materials is amazing, but what stands out to me is the thought process and design of these materials. The cardboard initially tested by WA:IT had seeds inside which could be used to plant trees but was unable to be used to customs violations. They use “scented cards” instead of the traditional 2ml sample, which they offer to be reused as a drawer or book freshener, so as to cut down on materials and weight. The label on the perfume itself is made of algae from the Venice lagoon, which would otherwise threaten the aquatic ecosystem - in this way, WA:IT is “using biowaste to preserve the environment”. These examples of innovative material design show that WA:IT is interested not simply in pretending to be sustainable but in pushing the envelope in sustainability. The only reason why this section does not receive a 3 is because I am unsure how the ingredients are grown (organic, GMO, location, etc).
WA:IT uses a small supply chain for their products, restricted to small Japanese and Italian suppliers and factories within 2 km of their factory to minimize transport. They claim that their raw suppliers are “fair trade” to ensure social and environmental responsibility, but as the phrase is not capitalized I am unsure what it means, and I am somewhat weary of a lowercase “fair trade”; while I am inclined to believe they want ethical and sustainable practices throughout their supply chain, I am unsure if or how they would be able to prove that. They also specify that their selling chain is restricted, targeting niche boutiques and avoiding big retail chains. They acknowledge that their supply chain and handmade Italian manufacturing costs about 200% more than big industry supply chains and Chinese intensive manufacturing processes, but they are willing to make that tradeoff. Of course, they are not aiming to compete with cheaply-made perfumes, and their market is high-end European fashion and beauty buyers, with a price that rivals the low end of Yves Saint Laurent and Versace. The only reason why this section is not a 3 is for some lack of certifiable information throughout the supply chain.
This company is innovative and focused on both sustainability and spirituality. They claim to be the “first Italian truly sustainable beauty brand”. From a preliminary search on the internet, this may be true - the Italian sustainable beauty market is close to nonexistent; but then again, the first page on Google of my search for “sustainable Italian beauty brands” did not include WA:IT, either, so I hope this brand is one of many smaller sustainability ventures. The only obstacle in my eyes is the cost to the consumer, as solutions with such a large price tag are not equitable, but I choose not to bring them a point down for choosing the right sourcing strategies regardless of cost.