Introduction

Introduction

The mission of this blog is to inform and inspire both businesses and consumers in the aspirational fashion world, observing trends and investigating the latest advances in sustainability. By caring about our planet and people, I want to be ahead of the curve and to help define a more authentic luxury which is both aspirational and ethical.
The luxury goods industry (excluding high-street fashion) is estimated to be worth $122 billion. I hope to provide a wake-up call to businesses in the luxury goods industry, who can add value for the ethical consumer by integrating sustainability into every area from sourcing raw materials through manufacturing, marketing and distribution. They can also use their influence, and that of the celebrities who endorse them, to educate and inspire consumers to aspire to a luxury lifestyle that also respects our planet and its people. By becoming more transparent and sharing information they have the potential to inspire other luxury brands to work toward more transparency and sustainability.


The blog’s title was inspired by a report by WWF authors Jem Bendell and Anthony Kleanthous. Reading it started me thinking more seriously about the handbags and other luxury goods I buy on the high-street and in high-end boutiques. As a lover of both designer bags and the latest electronic gadgets, I was inspired to seek deeper insight into where these products come from and at what cost to our world and its people.
I live in China, the region where most of the world’s household and fashion items, including many luxury branded goods, are sourced and manufactured. Able to visit factories regularly, I often see the manufacture of many of the products I buy. The photograph below shows the view from the window of my home in Shenzhen, with an air quality index (AQI) of 172 particles per million. On the same day in Beijing, just a few hours away, the AQI was 400. When I first arrived in China, I used to wonder how the government and people could allow this, but have since come to more fully understand the complexities of this society and the challenges government and businesses face every day.
My day job involves managing Foxconn in Shenzhen, which with 800,000 to 1.2 million staff is one of the biggest factories in the world, and notorious for worker suicides. The site, called “the hidden dragon” by the BBC, manufactures the world’s iPads, iPhones, tablets and e-readers.
China and the Far East is also fast becoming the biggest consumer market in the world, set to be the leading market for luxury goods in less than 6 years. Prestige brands are achieving double-digit growth: in Tokyo 94% of women in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton handbag and Hong Kong has more Gucci and Hermes stores than New York and Paris, with queues outside all day. Manufacture of the sought-after iPhone 6 occupied 100 production lines for 24 hours a day when it was first released, yet there was still a waiting list in Hong Kong.
Through my blog I will embark on a quest to find the brands and products leading the field in sustainable luxury goods, to serve as a benchmark for what can be achieved. I also plan to create a scorecard to help consumers evaluate and compare products and brands in terms of information transparency, upstream sourcing, sustainable design and production which considers also the product’s end of life impact, and social standards. Highlighting products and brands working towards sustainability or already ‘best in class’, I hope also to demonstrate how luxury brands can make the change from ‘the devil sells Prada’ to leading the charge towards a deeper luxury that is both aspirational and respectful of our people and planet.

Shenzhen yesterday, the view from my window at mid-day yesterday at 172 AQI

Shenzhen yesterday, the view from my window at mid-day yesterday at 172 AQI

 

Categories: Introduction

5 replies »

  1. I wish you the very best with your blog. As someone who is also based in Asia, it has been and continues fascinating for me to observe the ever-growing popularity of luxury goods and how important luxury items are in both aspiration terms and in signifying wealth and achievement. A qualifier – I’m not an industry insider so my observations are based purely on what I see around me. Also, I have spent just about all my time over the past 10+ years in Asia, so I have not observed trends in person elsewhere in the world. The trends I have observed may therefore not been unique to Asia. Nevertheless, the popularity of, and clamor for luxury goods which I’ve observed, has been something very interesting.

    As someone who has not specifically studied the industry, I cannot comment specifically on the luxury industry’s direct environmental impact. Is that a good or bad thing? Should the impact of such a visible industry not be more widely known? However, as I read your introduction above, I was struck by the opportunities which must surely exist for the industry to be a force for good both in social and environmental sustainability terms. Luxury firms can no doubt leverage their unique positions as the providers of highly desired goods, to influence attitudes and opinions and inspire action within the societies in which they operate.

    The most obvious opportunity set which comes to my mind is messaging through advertising, promotions and associations with important causes and bodies. Given the industry’s access not only the upper layers of the socio-economic pyramid but also how visible it is to aspirational segments of the middle-classes, the opportunity to plant seeds and subtly (or not so subtly) influence behaviors suggests that it can be very impactful. Some ethical issues just in that argument, but let’s leave that for another day. Another area of influence lies in the manner luxury goods are positioned and sold. Are there ways in which the products themselves can convey messages and inspire customers to act in ways supportive of sustainability? Lots of interesting ground to cover. I look forward to reading your posts and learning more in the process.

    Like

  2. DeeperLuxury I just had to say that what you are sharing is very interesting, both from my personal interest in the subject, and from a generalist knowledge on a field which very few ever look at as being influenced or influencing the bigger sustainability picture…Love the interactivity you bring to it as well..looking forward to your posts. 🙂

    Like

  3. Hi Deeper Luxury – have enjoyed reading through your introductory blogs…certainly a broad and controversial aspect of sustainability thinking. Much positive progress can be achieved I’m sure, so keep-up the excellent blogs.

    Like

  4. Hi this is Jade from My Fair Lady in Hong Kong. An online platform that promoting women ethical consumption. We find your article titled “Could China open the doors to a global cruelty-free cosmetics market?” a blog post that we would like to share with our readers- we would like more people to understand this article, therefore we would like to translate it in Chinese. But first we have seek for your “yes” 🙂
    Please advice 🙂 thank you!

    many Thanks!

    Jade

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s