If there can be such a thing as a silver-lining to this pandemic, it’s the soul searching we’ve had to face up to as consumers. The complete change of lifestyle born out of lockdown restrictions has not only forced us to question our own mortality, but evaluate every part of our ‘before times’ behaviours. It used to be that the changing of seasons heralded an opportunity for brands to engage with us en masse. As the weeks and months become a seemingly endless Groundhog Day, a brand that’s peddling the latest gadget or spring look appears both out of touch, but also misaligned with the values representing our new collective consciousness. In an effort to reprioritize our relationship with brands, we’re finding ourselves asking the question: is there a more responsible method of consumerism I should be practicing?
And we’re not alone. According to a 2020 study by the National Retail Federation, six in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.
Culpable for some of the worst environmental abuses (yeah, I’m looking at you fast-fashion…), the fashion industry seems perpetually stuck in acknowledging that seismic change needs to come, but incapable of figuring out how to achieve this at scale. While industry vanguards like Stella McCartney have been pioneering responsible fashion as an inherent part of their brand DNA, other luxury goods brands like Mulberry are starting to carve out their own brand promise.
50 years on from when founder Roger Saul began making leather accessories at his kitchen table using offcuts and scraps, Mulberry is undertaking an ambitious change agenda. The company is publicly scrutinising their business across everything from sustainable sourcing, biodiversity practices and working with partners who’re committed to ‘Living Wage’ principles, to offering a restoration service via The Rookery and matching pre-loved items with new owners as part of the Mulberry Exchange initiative. You may take the cynic route of calling this fancy PR that plays into the zeitgeist. I see it as a valiant effort. By acknowledging their complicity and addressing the challenges with an action plan, Mulberry is setting an example for how other fashion brands should be practicing sustainability as an intrinsic part of how to run a business.
The irony of course is there’s a natural fit between luxury goods and the secondary market, buoyant with strong demand from collectors and enthusiasts. Circular economies are by no means a new construct, but the demand for ‘pre-loved’ goods is where luxury brands have a real opportunity to play catch-up in the sustainability stakes. Mulberry is just one of the brands attempting to figure out their legacy in what’s become ‘the new normal’. In this case, harmonizing their brand promise with an end-to-end narrative of what it’s going to take to make ‘a blue bag, green’.
Read more, courtesy of Mulberry: Can a bag save the world?
Image credit: Mulberry ©