By now, we’ve all seen the news breaking about Burberry destroying tens of millions of pounds worth of stock to “preserve their exclusivity”. Whether what Burberry has done is an issue or not is not a relevant question, as we are all slowly witnessing the dark side of the fashion industry and its environmental consequences.
Over the past few days, we’ve seen lawyers, brand owners, ethical fashion pioneers and other industry professionals all contributing to the topic and sharing their views. The different angles all brought together a very specific opinion in both customers and fashion employees, and in the Modafirma office, we instantly asked ourselves “what will happen after the first week of angry, surprised and horrified reactions?”
Beyond The Scandal
This is not surprising news for many of us – sadly, it has been a global issue for decades, affecting various other luxury brands, who, alongside Burberry have been destroying unwanted stock. In fact, Burberry is still one of the most transparent luxury brands with ongoing projects improving their environmental and social impact. For example, in 2015, they were the first luxury retailer and manufacturer to achieve accreditation as a UK Living Wage Employer. This statement (of course) raises a range of upsetting questions about the whole industry.
Hopefully, the conversation will not end here. Instead of a quick scandal, it will prompt us to learn more about how luxury brands are starting to make a change, why they are refusing to change some of their initiatives and what we can do as consumers.
While it’s essential to address the issue and raise awareness about the flaws of luxury fashion (and indeed the fashion industry as a whole) in general, it’s also just as important to look at Burberry’s initiatives and future prospects to break this cycle.
The Elvis & Kresse Partnership
Founded in 2005, Elvis & Kresse are a leading British sustainable luxury brand, known for the pioneering and innovative efforts in reducing waste and reusing materials otherwise destined for landfill or incineration.
In October 2017, Elvis & Kresse officially established a five-year partnership with The Burberry Foundation. With this project, Burberry is actively working together with Elvis & Kresse to save 120 tonnes of leather from going to landfill or incineration. The Burberry off-cut leather will be used to expand Elvis & Kresse’s scopes on sustainability and 50% of the profits from the newly created luxury accessories will be donated to renewable energy projects.
“Late last year we launched an ambitious 5-year partnership with the Burberry Foundation. The main aim of this is to scale our leather rescue project, starting with off-cuts from the production of Burberry leather goods. We are working tirelessly to expand our solutions and would love to welcome anyone to our workshop in Kent, to come and see what we are doing.”
Kresse Wesling MBE – Elvis & Kresse
This partnership is a perfect example of how luxury brands can collaborate with smaller brands to achieve their social responsibility and sustainability goals. It’s not only relocating and reusing material otherwise deemed as waste, but is also supporting the work of a brand who is a pioneer in sustainable fashion. While this partnership definitely sets the bar high for other luxury brands, other high-end fashion giants such as Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo are taking small steps towards a change as well – a positive sign for all fashion-conscious consumers.
You can read more about the partnership here
The Burberry Sustainability Initiatives
In their Responsibility Reflections Report, Burberry describes various environmental and social goals for 2022. Their approach shows that besides identifying issues in the products, production, property and trading processes, they are actively working towards reaching their target and being transparent about perspectives that need changing.
Some of their reached targets include “sustainable build certified” new buildings, recycling 87% of their construction waste, using paper and baseboard from certified sources and procuring Better Cotton through their Better Cotton Initiative.
On the other hand, Burberry still has various aspects to work on besides handling unsold stock, such as internal manufacturing, assisting suppliers in energy reducing and reducing carbon emissions.
You can read the full Responsibility Report here
How We Can Participate
We’ve been brought up in a society, where fashion, especially luxury fashion is a significant part of our identity, although we never learn too much about it. This story, just like every other news about fashion companies help us understand more about the importance of the choices we make.
We can make sure the conversation doesn’t end here. We can research the industry’s biggest problems such as child labour and waste issues, learn more about how clothes are produced and delivered to us and discover and show support to ethical fashion brands who are part of the zero waste and circular fashion movement, such as Elvis & Kresse, Triarchy and Re.Sustain. It’s a long, and sometimes disappointing process, but it’s the only way to raise your voice and demand a change in an industry that desperately needs it.
For more about sustainable fashion, read our articles and brand interviews on ModaEdit