What about brands that are not concerned with sustainability at all? Especially in the high-end market, many well-known firms are not taking concrete action towards the issue. Why is that? How do you see their future?
All brands focused on the production of leather goods have many issues surrounding sustainability. In this era of veganism, discussing leather goods is always a hot topic. The production of vegan-friendly leather alternatives are usually harmful to the environment themselves and very difficult to dispose of. What’s more, the brands we are referring to are mostly part of huge fashion and luxury conglomerates with strict regulations in place to protect their profit margins and therefore tend to avoid investing in a responsible supply chain. Even if these conglomerates followed sustainability strategies, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than you can imagine. Additionally, different regulations exist in different countries that often provide loopholes for avoiding sustainabilities regulations. In Italy, for example, it is possible to re-label products as “Made in Italy”, even if most of their components were imported from outside Europe. As such, it is crucial to educate customers on responsible shopping. Lastly, beware of greenwashing. It is easy for a fashion brand to launch a single capsule collection made of organic or upcycled materials for marketing purposes. Permanently incorporating sustainability into the brand and turning a profit is a lot more difficult.
To wrap up our conversation, let’s focus on the impact that Covid-19 has had on the fashion industry and on the way fashion companies have been “forced” into the digital world to share their message. We have seen many digital catwalks, but how can the fashion industry rejuvenate itself and the way it communicates with the public?
I believe most trademarks nowadays have a problem in terms of communication. Covid-19 was an event that, in some cases, highlighted the inability of some brands to share their core set of values and beliefs. Even with Miuccia Prada reaching seventy years old, there’s no excuse for overlooking modern communication systems and minimizing corporate social media presence. I say Prada, but I refer to luxury fashion as a whole. Fashion shows are dead, especially if no one can attend them. The system that such companies inherited from the last century is outdated and has no place in this modern world. This is very difficult to communicate to creative directors of such powerful companies. They are like: “What do you mean? How can we stop doing fashion shows? And what is it with this TikTok? I cannot dance in front of a mobile phone!” In this sense, the Instagram based Q&A session that Prada proposed in the last MFW 2020/21 represented a big step forward, as me and Giulia Torelli forecasted during quarantine (Directors note: Andrea laughs). In adopting modern communication strategies, Balmain are ahead in the industry, and the reason is clear: Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director, is a digital native. Contemporary, cool and most importantly: social.