NEW YORK — The Accessories Council hosted its annual ACE Awards on Monday evening, honoring key players in the industry.
Held at Cipriani 42nd Street, the council’s flagship event hosted celebrities including Lupita Nyong’o, Cheryl Hines and Tracee Ellis Ross as well as fashion notables such as Iris Apfel, Andrew Rosen, stylist Micaela Erlanger and Kith’s Ronnie Fieg.
Among the winners were Brooks Brothers for the American Heritage Award; Allbirds for the Breakthrough Award; The Jewelry Group for the Business Excellence Award; Rosen of Theory for the Business Leadership Award; Sam and Libby Edelman for the Hall of Fame Award; Longchamp for the Legacy Award; Kith for the Retail Influencer Award; Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield for the Retail Innovation Award; Story for Specialty Retailer Award; Tracee Ellis Ross for the Style Ambassador Award, and Erlanger for the Style Influencer Award.
A hot topic on attendees’ minds was sustainability. Even the evening’s sponsor, Sperry, built an on-site installation about water conservation and had Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speak on the matter.
For Longchamp’s chief executive officer Jean Cassegrain, sustainability is about “being able to answer questions from customers and we want to be proud of what we are telling them.”
Longchamp strives to be aware of its overall output, according to the executive. “We are going upstream as much as we can. We don’t use cowhide from cattle raised in places that have been deforested, we only buy leather from tanneries that have strong sustainability and water filtration programs, we watch how we transport merchandise and avoid air flight as much as possible. It’s a number of small actions that add up to something,” Cassegrain said.
That same sentiment was echoed by Brooks Brothers’ ceo Claudio Del Vecchio, who said: “It’s not about one initiative, but more about putting together many efforts. Just making the label a little smaller reduces waste immensely over the millions of pieces that we produce. It’s about saving on waste in the packaging, in production and how we move product around the world.”
Marchon’s president Nicola Zotta said sustainability is trending among consumers: “I think the consumer is paying more and more attention to what goes beyond the product itself. There are a lot of examples out there of companies that have struggled because all of a sudden, bad news comes out. I think consumers are more and more attentive — not everyone, but a growing portion.”
Loeffler Randall founder Jessie Randall recently launched a line of “leather bags made in India that are cute with circular strips to reduce leather waste.”
Randall is examining various parts of her business to include sustainable practices, and feels that now is an interesting time to observe a shifting consumer mind-set. “Everyone cares about everything these days — it’s so great. You need to be respectful of not just sustainability, but also policies and how you treat employees. It’s a really wonderful thing, there is more visibility and transparency to everything, I think it’s at the forefront of everyone’s minds these days,” she said.
Del Vecchio concurred, but cautioned: “Just like ‘Made in the USA,’ there is a price consumers are willing to pay and that price is not very high. So I think it’s going to be a process as an industry that we have to work together.”