May 22, 2019

From Profit to Purpose

For Millennials and Generation Z, it is no longer viable for brands to simply market products and services aimed towards them. Young people expect brands to be driven by something greater than profit - a cause that lends itself to helping solve some of society’s biggest issues. Many new brands are jumping on the ‘cause’ bandwagon with various initiatives and projects being implemented in hope of instigating some form of social change. But what about the older brands that predate these? A lot of them came about during a time when social causes and purpose-driven business were not really a ‘thing’; a time when “greed (was) good”. We could go on all day making a list of brands now pivoting towards purpose but there’s one particular industry (and subsequent cluster of brands) that really stands out in trying to reinvent the wheel for the younger, social cause-driven masses; the fashion industry and the luxury names standing in to form its proverbial backbone.

It’s no secret that for a long time fur and other exotic animal skins have been commodified for the sake of fashion. What once proved to be a necessary part of survival for our ancestors, the act of wearing fur and various other animal skins has now evolved into a symbol of luxury and status, reflected in people’s sartorial choices. Fortunately though for our furry and scaly friends of the animal kingdom, as we are currently moving towards a much more progressive time in history, the use of animal products in such a frivolous and superficial way is becoming increasingly unacceptable by young people’s standards. Brands like Gucci, Chanel and Michael Kors are some of the latest brands to adopt a more socially conscious approach within their respective businesses pledging to phase out fur and other exotic animal skins moving forward into the future. Other brands such as Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood are already ahead of the social cause game making the decision to stop using fur during the mid to late 2000s.

Here are the statements that were released by Gucci, Chanel and Michael Kors detailing their plans for a fur-free future and their justifications for it:

Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s President & CEO said, “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals. With the help of the HSUS and LAV, Gucci is excited to take this next step and hopes it will help inspire innovation and raise awareness, changing the luxury fashion industry for the better.”

In a statement, a Chanel spokesperson said the company has turned away from fur and the like for ethical reasons. “At Chanel, we are continually reviewing our supply chains to ensure they meet our expectations of integrity and traceability,” the official said. “In this context, it is our experience that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins which match our ethical standards.”

“Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur,” Michael Kors said in a statement. CEO John Idol added: “This decision marks a new chapter as our company continues to evolve its use of innovative materials.”

Adopting change as we’ve witnessed in the fashion industry has created a ripple effect encouraging both smaller and bigger brands alike to move in the right direction and implement social change through their business practices. Although these brands within the fashion industry might have come from a time that is at odds with today’s younger generations, they are definitely living proof that it’s never too late to step up and pivot from profit to purpose.

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