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When it comes to charity, Gucci doesn’t short-sell the glamour.
This story first appeared in the February 23, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Over the past five years, the luxury label has enlisted celebrities including Madonna, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez to join its fund-raising efforts in favor of UNICEF’s actions supporting orphans and children affected by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gucci has committed more than $9 million to the programs, which range from the Schools for Africa initiative to funding child care centers.
The commitment to corporate social responsibility is something of an obsession for parent group PPR. Last year, PPR published for the first time its targets for each division, specifying that a portion of key executives’ salaries was tied to achieving these objectives.
In Gucci’s case, goals include slashing its transport-related emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 percent in the next 10 years, and guaranteeing all the paper it uses is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council — including its glossy shopping bags.
Patrizio di Marco, Gucci’s chief executive officer, noted that the brand was an early adopter in the luxury sector by voluntarily initiating the certification process for CSR across its supply chains in 2004.
“The world’s leading brands are rightly judged today not just on the quality of their products and services, but also on the way they act in the community and toward the environment,” Di Marco noted. “These initiatives are part of our values system.”
Gucci has since received the SA 8000 certification, a global social accountability standard for decent working conditions, for its leather goods, shoes, ready-to-wear, silk and jewelry supply chains.
The company trained more than 400 of its suppliers and subsuppliers on social responsibility themes, and audited a further 1,000 to verify they are meeting its standards.
Thanks to these efforts, Gucci recently obtained the ISO 14001 certification, a voluntary standard designed to assist companies in reducing their negative impact on the environment.
Customers can participate in the fund-raising efforts by purchasing items from the annual holiday collection of exclusive accessories or by buying the Gucci for UNICEF handbag sold year-round. In each case, 25 percent of the retail price goes to the U.N. organization.
Gucci is also encouraging its clients to make small gestures for the environment, for instance, by accepting a “go green” option when registering to receive catalogues, thereby substituting all printed materials for electronic versions.
Other initiatives have taken their cue from PPR’s commitment to women, through its Foundation for the Dignity and the Rights of Women, and green causes.
In 2009, Gucci launched a limited edition Twirl watch to benefit singer Mary J. Blige’s Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now.
Also that year, the company created a limited edition T-shirt benefiting Goodplanet.org, a nonprofit association headed by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, to coincide with the worldwide release of his environmental documentary “Home,” funded by PPR.