When Gucci announced in 2017 that it was done using fur, the brand was lauded for taking the lead in the world of luxury. On Thursday, Gucci made an even more groundbreaking announcement: the brand is now, it claims, "entirely carbon neutral."
"As part of a comprehensive approach to account for all its GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions associated with its business activities, Gucci has implemented a hierarchy of actions to avoid, reduce, restore and offset its GHG emissions," the brand said in a release.
The approach detailed by the release noted that its calculations include the whole supply chain, since the supply chain is responsible for 90 percent of Gucci's emissions. The brand breaks its commitment down into two parts. The first is avoiding and reducing emissions, which is accomplished by doing things like switching to renewable energy in all of Gucci's stores, offices and warehouses and eliminating design inefficiencies that create waste.
The second part entails "restoring and offsetting," which is accomplished by partnering with organizations that do things like fight deforestation as a means of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. It also means sourcing raw materials "from agricultural systems that restore soils and habitats for important biodiversity" (if you read between the lines, that essentially means using regenerative farming in its supply chain).
Though carbon offsetting systems have been controversial in the past with some environmentalists arguing that they can't really deliver the carbon savings they promise, the fact that Gucci understands the need to start with reducing emissions rather than simply offsetting them from the get-go may mollify some. In 2018, the brand says, it dedicated $8.4 million to offsetting projects.
"Gucci will continue to work in a smart and strategic way to avoid and reduce our impacts, while simultaneously investing in innovation as a driver for sustainability. However, in my view, this is just not enough nor will it happen fast enough given the sustainability challenges we are up against," CEO and President Marco Bizzarri said in a release. "To address the need for urgent solutions, Gucci [will]... act to first avoid, reduce and restore, and then offset the unavoidable emissions."
Will Gucci's commitment to carbon neutrality provoke similar actions amongst its luxury peers? In a world full of climate activists staging die-ins at political rallies and demanding the end of London Fashion Week, it's not too hard to imagine.