8% of greengas emissions come from the fashion industry. This appalling number places Fashion as the second most polluting industry, right after the oil industry.
Just as consumers are concerned about food, where it comes from and how it is produced, they show similar concerns for fashion, inducing a deep transformation of the industry. France is at the forefront of this new trend, as illustrated by the “Fashion Pact” initiated by Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault at the G7 Summit in Biarritz last summer. Joined by 32 fashion groups representing 150 brands, the Fashion Pact sets CSR goals for the industry, such as zero net carbon emission by 2050, or switching at 100% to renewable energies by 2030.
Tanning is infamously accountable for damaging the environment. For a century, industrial tanning massively turned to chromium and its boosted production pace. But today, France’s tanneries are embracing new methods. 50% of LVMH group’s tanneries are certified by the Leather Working Group, a global organic textile standard. The #1 player in global luxury, LVMH pledged to have 70% of its tanneries certified by this year’s end.
France boasts highly skilled tanneries, such as Chanel’s HAAS Tanneries (Alsace), LVMH’s Ateliers d’Armançon (Burgondy), or Hermès’s Tanneries du Puy (Auvergne). A tannery like Pechdo (Occitanie) is “growing its business & operations in France by focusing on high added-value products“, says its CEO Caroline Krug. Pechdo created a veal leather with conductive properties that makes it compatible with touch screens.
“Animal-free leather”, does that make sense? Language rigorists say no. However, alternative solutions to traditional leather are flourishing. Kering Labs is working on one made out of mushrooms (a.k.a. “muskin”, that stands for mushroom + skin). Lyon-based startup Ictyos reuses salmon skins to create fish leather. The skin of exotic animals is thus replaced by waste from the food industry, in the logic of circular economy. We’re talking about a €100bn ($110bn) leather market about to be entirely shifted.
Adopting “slow” fashion also implies paying attention to what you buy. French app Clear Fashion was designed to provide consumers with information about clothes’ production process. With 13 million downloads, the app is changing shoppers’ habits and pushing for greater discipline among brands & distributors.