Luxury-industry insiders and moguls met for the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit 2013 in Vienna, Austria, over the past few days, and lots of interesting tidbits of information came out of the event’s who’s-who list of speakers, which included luminaries like Alexis Babeau, Managing Director of Luxury at Kering, and Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory and Helmut Lang (and a huge investor in Proenza Schouler, among others). For our purposes, perhaps the the most interesting speaker was Gucci President and CEO Patrizio di Marco, who spoke at length about his brand’s commitment to social consciousness, which included a promise to stop using environment-polluting PVC in its products in the next three years.

Those comments were part of a larger speech that di Marco gave at the summit concerning his company’s environmental and social efforts. According to the Financial Times’ Luxury 360 Twitter account, di Marco spoke of the enormous opportunities that luxury brands have in the future with consumers who are now young, and that those younger consumers are more likely than anyone to be socially conscious – environmental impacts, labor conditions and a brand’s commitment to philanthropy all matter more to consumers now, and will matter more in the near future, than they ever have before. He went on to talk about his company’s 100% certified labor process, which means that Gucci is in full compliance with all health, safety and environmental regulations wherever they business has a footprint, something he called a “rarity,” even in luxury. In light of the tragic collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh several weeks ago, perhaps it will become less rare in the future.

The CEO also committed to some environmental goals for Gucci, and among them was the elimination of PVC from the company’s products by 2016 and the elimination of all hazardous chemicals from Gucci’s wares by 2030. Not only will that be good for the environment – PVC is a damaging, pollution-causing material to create and requires the use of carcinogenic chemicals, among other things – but luxury customers will likely welcome the news as well. PVC is not, nor has it ever been, a luxury material, and charging top-dollar for bags made out of it has always struck me as slightly offensive, even if I occasionally find one I like.

Gucci is an enormously powerful and influential name in luxury accessories, so perhaps this change will have wider results – if Gucci ends some of its more environmentally disastrous practices, including the use of PVC, who else might be next to hop on the socially conscious bandwagon? Are you happy to hear that PVC will be eschewed by at least one major brand?

If you’d like to support Gucci’s goals with a little shopping, check out the Gucci official site.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • anorthwind

    I’m very happy to read about this. I hope more luxury retailers follow suit and realize their future is tied to the planet’s.

  • lavinia

    by 2030???? It’s ridicolous that not much more can be done right now…sorry Gucci is doing something but is like a drop inthe sea (and what about the other brands?)

    • Hopefully Gucci’s public announcement of these changes will put pressure on other luxury brands to take similar steps, and although 2030 does seem like a long time, discontinuing the use of hazardous materials probably does require a significant retool of Gucci’s manufacturing processes across the globe.

  • Or

    This is bs – they just move to all-leather thing to emmulate H, smth that LV are dying to do.

    • abbi

      Good. Its better for the environment.

      • Or

        If better for the environment = more slaughtered animals, then it is certainly good

      • abbi

        As opposed to synthetic material that produces billions of toxins being produced AND destroyed. Destroying the earth affects animals too or have you not realised that?

  • FashionableLena

    I don’t care one way or the other. There is always a market for those who don’t want or can’t afford to carry a leather bag which I think is a larger market than these luxury brands. I don’t forsee Nine West, Jessica Simpson, Kathy Van Zeeland, etc. following Gucci’s lead and switching to leather. Or LV for that matter. Those coated canvas handbags are more than likely their bread and butter.
    I agree with Or. BS-baloney stuff. Just moving to all leather to raise the prices and eliminate certain consumers and reel in more high end consumers.

  • Laurie

    I think it is disgusting that a Luxury brand is using PVC. How can those price points be valid??

  • Tuna Lala

    There will always be a market for PVC bags but for whatever the agenda behind it, I am a glad a major player in the fashion industry is actually making moves to protect the environment. It is all about the big picture, plenty of people still think that being “environmental-friendly” is extreme/hippie/too much whereas it really is a real, current issue that is affecting everyone. Gucci/Kering is influential and this, if anything, will bring to light the necessary changes companies need to make to be more sustainable.

  • Paging Stella McCartney, who proudly does not use any leather, but isn’t above using PVC, one of the most environmentally hazardous consumer materials ever produced.

  • Veronica Salgado-Rocha


  • Veronica Salgado-Rocha


  • Great article! I’ve always hated PVC which is why I would never buy one of those monogram LV bags… So tacky to me!