By  on March 5, 2013

PARIS — Gucci and Livia Firth, cofounder of the Green Carpet Challenge, held a joint news conference at the Brazilian embassy here Monday to promote the first line of bags made using leather that is legally produced in the Brazilian Amazon and is guaranteed not to cause deforestation.

The Gucci for the Green Carpet Challenge Handbag Collection features three styles — the hobo, the top-handle tote and the New Jackie — made from red-wine colored leather with hand stitching and woven detailing, antique gold hardware and bamboo tassels.

The bags went on sale at Gucci flagship stores worldwide and on in the U.S. and Europe last month. They are the first products to carry the Green Carpet Challenge, or GCC, brand mark and are accompanied by the Gucci GCC “passport,” which documents the origin and traceability of the bag.

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Firth, who spearheads the initiative challenging top luxury brands to produce sustainable looks for the red carpet, said that PPR was ahead of its peers in terms of corporate social responsibility. The conglomerate owns Gucci alongside brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Puma.

Firth, the Italian wife of British actor Colin Firth, introduced Gucci creative director Frida Giannini to the National Wildlife Federation and the Rainforest Alliance, which provides certification to cattle farms based on environmental and social justice criteria, as well as the ethical treatment of cattle.

“I learned a lot in the two years that it took us to arrive to today’s launch. When I first came across the National Wildlife Federation and the work that they were doing in Brazil, it’s the first time I learned that two-thirds of deforestation is caused by cattle ranching. I had no idea,” she told WWD.

“Today we have five ranches that have been certified,” Firth added. “It’s very, very important to get a luxury brand to push the agenda and to push the demand into the supply chain, so that from five ranches we can move to 10 and then 20.”

François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR, said the bag launch was the luxury division’s first sustainability project spanning the entire supply chain, but there were many other initiatives in place to make the production of its raw materials more sustainable.

“For example, we have a tannery within Gucci that has been using an organic process for a while now,” he noted. “All of the raw materials we use in the luxury division, and in particular at Gucci, give rise to a thought process about the entire chain.”

Diana Zanetto, executive vice president and chief merchandising and licensing officer at Gucci, said she hoped to continue using zero-deforestation leather, but it would depend on the capacity of the ranches.

“We hope to be a pioneer in something which could be followed also by other brands in the industry,” she said. “We know that consumers are changing. Consumers are not satisfied only with beautiful products — they want to know where the products come from and how they are made.”

Gucci is making a donation of 50,000 euros, or $65,000 at current exchange, to the National Wildlife Federation to fund the promotion of deforestation-free Brazilian leather.

Officials at PPR would not comment on a Bloomberg report that the group is considering changing its name to Kering to reflect its transition from a retail-to-luxury group to a luxury and sporting-goods specialist. The agency quoted unnamed sources as saying that the name is supposed to evoke the idea of caring.

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