Living in the twenty-first century, you don’t have to be an ardent environmentalist to hear the call of climate action. Around the world, there is pressure for people and business to adopt environmentally and socially responsible practices. This call to action permeates every industry, including the world of luxury, which is part and parcel with self-reinvention. Luxury fashion in particular has begun to reinvent itself in innovative ways, with the creative reuse of deadstock materials and the utilisation of bio-based fabric alternatives. Giants in the business have adopted eco-ethical manufacturing practices that benefit the lives of employees down the supply chain, preserve precious natural resources, and reduce carbon emissions. Ahead, we explore the initiatives and innovations luxury fashion brands have adopted to protect the world around them.

Valentino’s Sleeping Stock

In an effort to minimise its carbon footprint, Valentino has partnered with the French textile retailer, Tissu Market, to create an upcycled clothing project titled, “Sleeping Stock.” The project entails Valentino selling its “sleeping” Haute Couture and Prêt-à-porter fabrics from previous collections to Tissu Market. In turn, Valentino will give the proceeds back to Bottega dell’Arte, its craftsmanship training program for students of fashion design who matriculate into the industry. The “Sleeping Stock” project has accumulated roughly 22,000 meters of fabric so far, offsetting 265 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and saving 1,105,645 cubic meters of water. For perspective, that’s the equivalent of 5 hectares of forest and 442 Olympic swimming pools of water saved by using deadstock Haute Couture and Prêt-à-porter fabrics.

Balenciaga’s EPHEA™ coat

Courtesy of Balenciaga

The fashion industry has been looking toward innovations in fabric production to minimise the impact their clothing has on the environment, and Balenciaga one of the brands leading the way. In its Winter ’22 360° show, Balenciaga launched a Maxi Hooded Wrap Coat made with an alternative leather from the company, Ephea. The Balenciaga Ephea Coat utilises the vegetative body of a mushroom to create its leathery material. It’s not only first of its kind within the French fashion house’s oeuvre, but it is also the first commercially made item made using Ephea’s bio-based material. Balenciaga’s coat shows that the luxury house is banking on the use of alternative leathers in the future and is reported to be exploring possibilities for it in upcoming product launches.

Prada’s recycled gold

Courtesy of Prada

At the end of 2022, Prada debuted its Eternal Gold collection, consisting of sustainable fine jewellery made with 100% Certified Recycled Gold. This is the first iteration of responsibly made fine jewellery created by the global luxury brand, which backs up its sustainability claims by meeting the ‘Chain of Custody’ standards set by the Responsible Jewelry Council and prioritising verification and traceability in its gold and diamond production chain. These steps, in addition to Prada’s time-honoured artisanal techniques is what makes the Eternal Gold collection an exciting representation of modern luxury.