Gucci Equilibrium: Bridging the Gap Between Aesthetics and Ethics
In a comprehensive effort to increase transparency and make clear their commitments to sustainability and ethics, Gucci have unveiled Equilibrium, a platform for the company to showcase their pledges and demonstrate what is being done to achieve them.
Equilibrium comes with three core sections; environment, people and new models and it builds on the company’s ten year plan which was revealed in 2017.
Gucci’s commitment to the environment encompasses initiatives such as their “Scrap-Less” scheme, which sets about saving on “waste, water, energy and chemical use in the leather supply chain”, as well as “up-cycling waste leather and textiles generated during the production process”.
Equilibrium also highlights Gucci’s commitments to reduce the House’s food waste. They have achieved this by working with Italian food-waste initiative Siticibo, which ensures waste generated by the company’s canteens in Florence, Milan and Novara is redistributed via local charity organisations.
As for people, Gucci draws attention, among other things, to a commitment to gender equality and diversity in their workplaces. They state via Equilibrium that “gender equality, diversity and female empowerment are key to Gucci” and have “become synonymous” with their brand.
Through Equilibrium, Gucci has also outlined the challenges currently faced by the fashion industry when it comes to recruiting and sourcing skilled workers. They say directly that “industries like ours face a skill shortage. Society has somehow told young people that there is something wrong with working with their hands”. This is something which FashionCapital have already recognised, working to provide accredited qualifications and apprenticeships for people who wish to obtain them. Training is provided in their factory based in London, where graduates, apprentices and trainees can gain their qualifications whilst working alongside a moving production line, operated by skilled workers.
Finally, through the “new models” section, Equilibrium lets consumers know that Gucci is committed to innovating and rethinking how they produce their products and which materials they use. This can already be seen in their production process, with the innovative and biodegradable material “liquid wood” being used in some prototype models of their sunglasses in place of environmentally damaging plastic. This commitment to innovation is something which Equilibrium embraces wholeheartedly, stating that Gucci are “constantly working to discover more sustainable materials in order to develop products that have a lower impact on the environment”.
As it stands, Equilibrium increases the company’s transparency and helps consumers learn more about Gucci’s commitments and values. Speaking to WWD, Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri said “we have been working on sustainability for so long, and we realised at one point that our actions needed to be better understood within and outside the company.”
Equilibrium comes at a time where sustainability is a source of inspiration for innovation in the fashion industry; where the focus has shifted to up-cycling, recycling, and reinventing. Not only does this reduce waste, as seen with Gucci’s Scrap-Less scheme, but it also creates an image of greater responsibility on the part of the manufacturer when it comes to the planet.
Gucci has made clear their desire to fulfil this commitment in recent months by opening the Gucci Art Lab just outside of Florence in April 2018; a move which CEO Marco Bizzarri states is a “testament” to the company’s “belief in creativity, artisanal craftsmanship, innovation and technology, and sustainability, and our bond with our territory.” The Art Lab, it is hoped, will help to fulfil the high demand for Gucci’s products, which has nearly doubled in the last three years and which led to a significant boost to Kering’s fourth quarter sales in April.
By opening innovative centres like the Gucci Art Lab close to their historical heartland, Gucci is coming good on the wider vision set in motion by Kering, which has stated that it wants to reduce green-house gas emissions by 50% across the entire group by 2025.
FashionCapital already embraces this desire to reduce emissions, producing 10,000 units per week in their fully-compliant factory, based in London. The shift in big companies like Gucci to models of a similar nature, like their Art Lab, is a significant nod to the good work that is being done in the fashion world already, which recognises that sustainability is crucial to the longevity of the industry.
The news of Gucci Equilibrium’s launch widens the scope and exposure of sustainability and ethics in the fashion world, and demonstrates to smaller companies that there are significant benefits to producing innovative products sustainably and ethically. As Gucci put it, they hope that Equilibrium will help them to achieve a balance between the aesthetic of what they do, with the ethics in which they believe.
By Callum Cliffe
Images courtesy of Gucci and The Factory (part of the FashionCapital/Fashion Enter Group)