Monday, May 20, 2024

Kering and London College of Fashion Pioneer New Sustainability Program

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French luxury conglomerate Kering is embarking on the second phase of its collaboration with the London College of Fashion by introducing a new effort aimed at redefining sustainability in the luxury fashion industry.

Celebrating a decade of partnership with the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Kering says its new initiative marks a significant step forward in the development of future leaders equipped to implement sustainable governance models within the fashion sector. The new Kering x CSF program, set to unfold over three years, underscores a commitment to sustainability, collaboration, and creativity as foundational elements of luxury’s future.

Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer, emphasized the importance of collaboration between the corporate sector and educational institutions in driving meaningful progress on sustainability. “The only way to train people truly and effectively is to work closely with schools and universities to build a comprehensive approach on sustainability issues,” she said in a statement.

Luxury brands like Gucci are leading the secondhand shift away from fast fashion
Courtesy Gucci

Daveu says the long-standing relationship between Kering and LCF is focused on “harnessing the power of education and creativity in support of our planet. We share the same vision on empowering young talents and encouraging the next generation of fashion professionals to place sustainability at the heart of their future careers,” Daveu said.

Central to the program’s objectives is the ambition to integrate the principles of interspecies, intergenerational, and intragenerational justice, collectively referred to as the “3Is,” into the governance structures of fashion organizations. This innovative approach encourages participants to engage in interdisciplinary research, share insights with peers and experts on a youth board, and hone skills pertinent to their field. Kering’s initiative reflects a broader industry-wide move towards long-term sustainability goals, emphasizing the critical role of education in fostering a new generation of decision-makers.

The announcement comes as Kering has issued a profit warning, signaling a downturn in its financial performance with an anticipated ten percent decline in first-quarter sales compared to the previous year. The luxury conglomerate, based in Paris, attributes this downturn primarily to its flagship brand Gucci, which is projected to see a nearly 20 percent drop in sales, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. This development marks a significant shift for Kering, positioning it as an outlier among its peers in the luxury sector, which have generally reported strong sales growth. Its portfolio also includes Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, DoDo, Qeelin, Ginori 1735, along with Kering Eyewear and Kering Beauté.

Saint Laurent model in black dress and glasses.
Saint Laurent | Courtesy

Gucci’s decline is notable given it accounted for more than 60 percent of Kering’s operating income last year. The brand is currently undergoing a revitalization effort led by new management and creative director Sabato de Sarno, whose recent collections have received positive reviews since their debut in stores in mid-February. Despite the initial success of de Sarno’s collections, Kering has prepared for potential impacts on its margins in 2024 due to investments in Gucci’s transformation.

This financial forecast contrasts sharply with the performance of other luxury giants like LVMH and Hermès, which have continued to experience double-digit sales growth. The luxury market, after several years of unprecedented growth, is now facing a slowdown, with projections indicating an average sales growth of five percent in 2024, down from an average of ten percent organic growth annually since 2016. Analysts suggest that the changing fortunes within the sector may further widen the gap between the strongest and weakest players.

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