The World’s Top Luxury Designers Just Launched a Sustainable Fashion Initiative

The Apparel Impact Institute launches an ambitious new initiative to improve the footprint of their supply chains.

What do Stella McCartney, Burberry and the Kering Group (parent company of brands like Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta) have in common … besides luxury fashion lines, that is? They have all committed to working together to improve the environmental footprint of their supply chain. 

“Fashion brands have always been a little quiet and secretive about their supply chains,” Lewis Perkins, president of the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), told Vogue last month. “With this project, Burberry, Stella and Kering are coming to the table and publicly collaborating across a shared supply chain.”

The ambitious new project was launched late last year by Aii, an organization made up of brands, manufacturers and industry stakeholders focused on improving the sustainability outcomes of the apparel and footwear industry. The project will create a platform for Italian manufacturers to coordinate, fund, and scale environmental programs with measurable impact. 

A Sustainable Step

“This partnership is important to the industry as it allows us to continue bringing Aii’s proven and future methodologies to Italy’s luxury apparel and footwear producers,” Lewis said in a news release. “Now is a critical moment to include environmental stewardship in the industry’s efforts to build back better through this work. We are anxious to begin implementing with our partners.” 

The Italy project aims to bring brands, manufacturers, philanthropy and nonprofits together to identify the top environmental issues. They’ll look specifically at those impacting the areas of energy, water and chemistry. Then, they will create an action plan for mitigating, increasing awareness and funding initiatives to lessen the impact. 

The World's Top Luxury Designers Just Launched a Sustainable Fashion Initiative
Stella McCartney jumper

Natural Progression

Burberry, McCartney, and Kering have been fierce supporters of sustainability efforts in the past. Taking a public stance with the Italy project is like a natural progression of their efforts. They’re joined in the collaboration with about 20 other Italian facilities. 

The group will continue over the coming months and years to recruit more manufacturers and brands to share best practices. They also aim to partner with a nonprofit to help build the program. 

“There’s a lot of work to be done to achieve the industry’s aspirations, and it just doesn’t make sense from a resourcing standpoint—especially in the current economic environment that we’re in—for every organization to take on these challenges on their own,” Kurt Kipka, Aii’s vice president of programs told Vogue last month. “In a post-COVID world, it’ll be even more important to ensure that every resource is applied in the most effective, efficient way possible.” 

No Better Time Than the Present

It’s the ideal time for such a project, with Italy—and its fashion sector—ready to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic as vaccination distribution efforts are underway. 

“One thing that’s clear in a post-COVID world is that strong brands are going to rise to the top, and the smaller, poorly managed brands won’t,” Kipa said. “It’s going to be much more difficult to survive, so it’s ultimately becoming table stakes to be involved in projects like this. That feels quite promising to me.”

Want to learn more about sustainable fashion? Check out our guide to vegan leather alternatives here.

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