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Fashion Luxury, Sustainability and Ethic

Article publié par Élise ANGOT le 02/01/2021

Diamond, gemstone, luxury clothes, or bags… all of these terms refer to luxury, high quality, exclusivity, prestige, and savoir-faire. When I hear these words, I visualize a wonderful, perfect world bringing to the forefront values like heritage, meticulous performances, hard work, and  respect. Unfortunately, the luxury sector is a facade hiding dark secrets.

The diamond and jewelry industry’s hidden side

Entering a jewelry store immerses us into a magical world, with all the diamonds, gemstones, and gold. Everything is shiny and attractive, blinding, our sight. The universe is gorgeous, magnificent, and almost inaccessible. It is a magical world; most people can’t access these goods and can only hope to one day put their hands on one of these pieces. This is justified by the savoir-faire, the exclusivity, and the rarity surrounding the conception of this high-end product. The trick is: the shinier the jewel is, the more you are blinded. With one look you are deceived and you just assume that the product was made ethically and with respect, and you would feel honored to touch or hold any gem.

However, the reality is far beyond what brands try to sell us. Diamond extraction fuels civil war in poor African countries. To extract large quantities quickly, they use and exploit childrenwho work in dreadful conditions. Pression, forced labor, dirt, bad wealth, and being underpaid became their lifestyle. Under the ground, children miss air and put their lungs in danger. In 2006, a study revealed that 43,880 children were working in mines in southern Congo. Their wage was around $15 per day

Traceability is very hard and because of this, jewelry brands can easily hide their product’s origin. In the end, customers won’t know that they have blood on their hands and will keep on fantasizing.

The fashion’s reality

We all know Italian luxury brands are very famous for their clothes, bags, and shoes. When we think of these brands we see houses, institutions, high quality, unique production, specific knowledge, the old transmission of savoir-faire. But something is misleading with the “made in Italy” label. A product will have this label as long as the last transformation is made in Italy. Meaning that a major part of a product can be made elsewhere and still be associated with the label and its image. Transparency doesn’t seem to be a common value in the luxury world.

In fashion too, the lack of information hides the consequences of their production.

Prestigious brands often advocate the “100% made in cotton, silk, or wool” label garments, but what they don’t tell us is that cotton cultivation is the most water-consuming fabric. Because of high demand, the land is getting more and more empty and destitute producing a huge amount of waste. For wool, goats are exploited and treated very sorely.

Workers are underpaid and work in bad conditions.

Adding to all of these ethical concerns surrounding the production, there is also a consumption issue. In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, the trend was “over-consumption”. Too many people were buying luxury products because of their ideal identity. It was more a question of self-image and being accepted in society.

To be valued in society, to be socially approved, people had to buy garments to make themselves desirable; fashion created obsessions.

Fortunately, things are changing and for a few years, a new dynamic is being installed. The consumers of tomorrow, the millennials, are more aware than previous generations. By seeking group approval or conformity, they try to avoid the feeling of guilt and they are more careful with what they buy. Now, brand values are crucial for these buyers; they choose companies that match with them and enjoy the satisfaction of having good behavior.

This can be illustrated with the fact that the percentage of consumers who prefer to buy from environmentally friendly brands rose from 57% in 2013 to 72% in 2018.

Nowadays more and more luxury and fashion brands are taking steps towards a more respectful, and ethical production of goods by restoring people’s rights in all the supply chains. For instance, LVMH has launched a “green week” and in October 2020, the group expanded its commitments to protect biodiversity. Moreover, in November, Fendi launched a new sustainability section, strengthening its commitments toward the environment. Several brands like Gucci, Versace, and Burberry stopped using fur. Stella McCartney is very sensitive about this subject -the brand has made unions to protect worker’s rights, they are very transparent; they publish an “eco-impact” report of the year on their website.

Being more ethical throughout the supply chain also includes fighting against deforestation, the use of pollutants, the use of pesticides, and giving the necessary tools to minimize waste. It also means increasing the reusability of a product through prevention and recycling. One of the main goals of sustainable fashion is to fight against fast fashion and replace it with a new model known as slow fashion. Fast fashion relates to the fast collection, large quantities of clothes that produce an enormous amount of waste. Companies following the fast fashion model are very often copying luxury trends by proposing lower quality at a lower price.

Furthermore, luxury brand groups like Kering or LVMH are bringing to the forefront the necessity of having a sustainable model. Indeed, they completely changed their strategy leaving more room for responsibilities and ethics. All these changes yield benefits to the group. They are more closed to their customers, they share more crucial values such as the respect of the environment and the individual with their clients, shareholders, and stakeholders. Sustainability is nowadays undoubtedly a competitive advantage for the development of groups with a long-term vision.

As a leader in the luxury world, LVMH or Kering makes sure that the social and environmental issues are a priority to inspire other brands to take action towards this dynamic.

Make a difference; you can act, learn, and make people aware of reality. Even the smallest actions count. Don’t be afraid to change your behavior! 

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Article Anglais

Instagram, drowning in information

Article publié par Alya MIKOU  le 09/11/2020

Just like you, every morning I wake up and within seconds, I find myself on my phone, scrolling through Instagram. 

Once we enter the world of Instagram, we are directly overwhelmed by posts and stories. We see influencers sharing their breakfasts and outfits, artists sharing their new paintings, musicians posting their new songs…

Recently and mainly since March 2020, with the BLM movement, people have taken possession of Instagram to share committed content. We have all noticed an increase of this kind of neutral and transparent content which has led to a rapid paradigm shift.

Omnipresent information ....

The days of the superficial Instagram are starting to drift away. Photoshop is no longer a tool that is used to represent an idyllic and perfect world. 

This platform is now a way to inform. Influencers are now sharing petitions, fundraisers, associations, articles…  No need to read the newspapers; a quick tour of Instagram is enough to be up to date on everything.  The amount of information circulating makes it impossible to manage it all. The information is omnipresent and escaping it is no longer possible.

With everything going on currently in the world, every corner seems to be filled with bad news. We went from going on Instagram to see our favorite influencer’s latest posts during Fashion Week to going on Instagram only to realize how many horrible things are happening in the world (the Uyghur holocaust, femicides, racism, etc.).

We notice and learn about a lot of things in such a brief moment. The worst thing is that usually, we can’t do anything to help the people in need. We are just here looking at them living in injustice and torture without being able to make a difference.

The real problem starts with the countless amount of information and news we are confronted with; it pushes us to stop paying attention to all of them. Within seconds, a funny meme transforms into a post about a holocaust. We are confronted with major content but in a context that doesn’t allow people to become fully aware of it. This leads us to stop signing petitions and donating money. The enthusiasm we initially had fades away each day.

We all know that reading a post, following an association, or signing a petition won’t take us more than a minute and yet, we’ve already ignored a story with a swipe-up link for a petition without even looking at it. We all have closed our eyes at the misery of a person. That is mainly because we are submerged by pieces of information that aren’t always positive. Unintentionally, we avoid seeing and understanding all the horrors that are happening.

One can also raise the question of the influencers’ honesty. Are people trying to look good and improve their image when sharing these posts?  When the BLM movement emerged, some people questioned the transparency of some influencers, claiming that they only shared stories and posts to follow the trend of posting about the movement without truly supporting and believing in it. By adding informative posts and stories to Instagram, aren’t we also adding a form of hypocrisy?

Instagram can easily be transformed into a battlefield where the winner is whoever scrolls the fastest. Whenever we feel bored, we open the app only to close it within seconds because we feel like nothing is worthy of our attention. However, the truth is, there are so many things that are being shared every day that could really change someone’s life if only we could relax and take the time to slow down and read.

Make a difference

If you want to cultivate yourself and raise awareness to the issues that are currently happening, here is a list of today’s biggest dilemmas:

–       Uyghurs in China are being tortured because of their religious beliefs 

–       Sustainability and fashion 

–       Feminism: harassment, femicide 

–       Black lives matter: racism and police violence 

–       Nigeria #endsars: the movement against police brutality and oppression among the youth

–       Namibia #shutitalldown: protest against femicide and sexual-based violence

–       The silent holocaust in the DRC Congo

–       Violence against children

–       Election in the US (register and vote!)

–       Lebanon disaster 

–       Coronavirus pandemic  

–       Homophobia

–       Fat Phobia

Among the Instagram accounts that genuinely care about the issues listed above and should be on everyone’s “list of accounts to follow”, we can find : 

Uyghurs in China : @raphaelglucksmann

Feminism : @noustoutesorg and @gurlstalk

What’s happening in Africa : @a.forafrica

Fashion : @diet_prada

Daily News : @hugodecrypte

Health :@ecsdmed