Last year Kering was named the most sustainable textile, apparel and luxury goods corporation in the world (Corporate Knights’ Global 100 Index). The company’s business strategy for 2025 pivots on three keywords: “care, collaborate, create”. In this article we will focus on the vision of Kering’s sustainability officer – Marie Claire Daveu. If you want to know more about the company and its Environmental Profit & Loss tool, you should click here.
Before entering Kering in 2012, Daveu was a public servant focusing on agricultural and enviromental issues. Despite her background has nothing to do with the luxury sector, Daveu has embraced the new challenge with the same ardour and competence, conceiving and implementing effective procedures.
As far as the different areas which liven up the market are concerned, Daveu believes that they could be less divergent than it seems. She explains that consumers started to be concerned about sustainability in reference to food, because they instinctively linked it with health and wellness. Likewise, the automotive industry started to be under scrutiny when it was linked with safety and health issues. According to Daveu, the hardest challenge about sustainable fashion is finding a way to instill the same instinctive sense of duty.
Kering‘s chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs claims that we have to change the way we talk about the quality of our products. According to her, we are still too much focused on “savoir faire” (the know how), while we should be more concerned about “savoir être” (the knowledge about how we should be, and behave).
It is no longer just about heritage, quality, and style: we have to communicate our commitment to sustainability as a conscientious way of thinking products even before they are created.
The way in which a company pays attention to the planet (and to people) is closely connected with the quality of their products, intended as the ability to fill a need without harming the Earth and other human beings.
Anyway, according to Daveu, a company can achieve real sustainability only when every level in its governance has embraced it as a top-down operation. Sustainable measures have to be promoted and facilitated in any way, that is why the top management should be ready to put the company capital where their mouth is.
This could seem a lot to handle, but don’t worry: according to Daveu, a sustainable future can be achieved through proactive steps.
Sustainable practices have to be woven into the supply chain from the sourcing of raw materials to manufacturing, and each company should find the perfect regimen tailored to tackle their impact and needs. The best solution is therefore starting with small, scalable pilot projects, such as implementing tanning processes that do not involve heavy metals, or improve the company policies about animal welfare, safety of workers, and fair wage.
As far as the fashion industry is concerned, Daveu points out the importance of involving the designers in the journey towards sustainability. The key to an easier, efficient transition is training all the people involved in the conceiving and manufacturing of each product – starting with the creative minds. This will draw attention to the company’s environmental footprint and provide the basis for the establishment of new, better standards.
Reframing the modus operanding is crucial to the building of new good practices, and it is quickly becoming a substantial issue. As Daveu claimed: “We don’t have so much time to really change the paradigm” – so we had better start looking for our own paths towards sustainability.