Carbon Neutral Buzz
The new luxury fashion buzz word in the sustainability dialogue is “carbon neutral”. Long-time sustainable brand Gabriela Hearst delivered a carbon-neutral Spring 2020 runway show in New York, and Gucci announced to considerable fanfare that “it had achieved 100 percent carbon neutrality in its supply chain and operations.” How? By buying carbon offsets writes Vogue Business. Both Burberry in London and Gucci in Milan hosted carbon neutral Spring 2020 shows, again by buying carbon offsets.
Rachel Cernansky notes that the numbers add up on paper but buying carbon credits isn’t a substitute for actually reducing emissions, and ideally they follow — not lead — actual carbon-reduction improvements in the brand’s design, sales, marketing and manufacturing and manufacturing processes.
A 2016 EU study found 85 per cent of projects analysed likely overestimated the emission reductions they generated. Exaggerated emissions reductions are one reason why there is vast uncertainty about the real effect of carbon offsets, says Barbara Haya, who leads the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project at the University of California Berkeley and recently authored a paper on this topic. (Many offset projects are also located in less industrialised areas like Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, and there is growing concern about local communities not being consulted in planning initiatives.)
Gabriela Hearst Sets New Standards for NYFW
Gabriela Hearst is a leader in the sustainability sector. No one tops Stella McCartney, but Hearst makes a strong showing. Vogue Business shares innovations taken by Hearst that surely aren’t happening at either Gucci or Burberry.
The designer booked only local models (see photo above) for her SS20 New York show, and this new policy will become permanent. Hearst also cut out sample production for her supply chain and — this is a biggie — the designer is shipping product via boat, resulting in a longer 10-week delivery window.
New York’s CFDA website drills down even deeper on Gabriela Hearst’s initiatives for NYFW. She teamed up with her production company Bureau Betak to track every element of the show including insuring that the food used for catering to the models used only local and seasonal foodstuffs and the models’ hair was done without using electricity.
Unable to cut down on the emissions from private cars, Ubers, and taxis delivering guests to her September 10 show, Hearst gave guests a scarf featuring a print of animals that’ve have recently gone extinct. The Gabriela Hearst brand donated funds in guests names to Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit organization based in Oregon that has filed lawsuits on behalf of youth plaintiffs against governments, arguing that they are infringing on the children’s rights to a stable climate system.
In February, she invited plaintiffs from the Trust’s case, Juliana v. United States & Donald Trump, et al, to her show. “The younger generation are going to be pissed off [about climate change]. My 11-year-old daughters are,” says Hearst. “In the next five year sustainability is just going to matter more and more. We have to keep checking what this company stands for.”
Reduce Emissions First, Then Buy Carbon Offsets
Having reduced emissions in every way possible for her SS20 runway show, Hearst then partnered with EcoAct to determine the amount of carbon offsets she needed to fund.
Those dollars were then donated to Hifadhi-Livelihoods Project in Embu and Tharaka Nithi Counties of Kenya, where Hearst previously traveled with Save the Children. The offset funds will be used to provide modern, efficient cookstoves to families in Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties, “cutting down on wood usage and the noxious fumes that accompany it, which primarily impact women and children”, writes Vogue.com.
We share Gabriela Hearst SS20 highlights from Vogue.com. and Vogue US Nicole Phelps commentary.
Group shots are from Gabriella Hearst website, where you will find a superb interview with Hearst and Suzy Menkes. .