MILAN — “Nowadays sustainability topics, particularly environmental and social ones, are shared at every level, ranging from individuals to institutions. Even more significant, they represent sound values that transcend all cultures.”
Prada Group chairman Carlo Mazzi chose those words to start his letter to stakeholders in the company’s 2019 corporate sustainability report, published on Tuesday.
“Corporations, a basic component of civil society, as well as families and public institutions, must share full responsibility for the profound change underway and must contribute to an improvement in the living conditions of the future generations,” continued Mazzi.
Last year was a significant one for Prada in terms of sustainability. Among the highlights, the group created a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, co-chaired by artist and activist Theaster Gates and award-winning writer, director and producer Ava DuVernay; revealed it was banning fur; launched the Re-Nylon capsule collection in regenerated nylon; released its first sustainability policy; held its third sustainability conference, “Shaping the Future,” and was a signatory of the Fashion Pact.
Head of marketing Lorenzo Bertelli, who spearheaded the Re-Nylon and fur-free policy, will this year also take on the role of head of CSR.
In the report, co-chief executive officers Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli are quoted together in a message: “[…] In society — and therefore in fashion, which in many ways reflects it — the only constant is change. The transformation and innovation of conventions, underlying all evolution, have led us to interact with different cultural spheres both near and apparently far, helping us capture and anticipate the spirit of the times. Today this is no longer enough: We must be the agents of change, with the flexibility to translate the demands of the market and society into tangible actions that guide us every day in our business.”
To be sure, additional projects are lined up for 2020. The company inked a second sustainability-linked loan for a total of 75 million euros in the first months of 2020 with the Milan branch of Mizuho Bank Ltd. This follows one signed last year with Crédit Agricole for 50 million euros. “With this second financial facility, Prada commits once again to meet sustainability targets in exchange for a rewarding annual pricing adjustment. The targets, like the ones of the first loan, relate to the number of stores assigned a LEED Gold or Platinum Certification, the amount of training hours for group employees and the use of regenerated nylon for the production of goods,” said a company spokesperson.
Further strengthening its relationship with Milan’s Politecnico School of Management, which contributed to the three editions of the “Shaping A Future” conferences, last year the two implemented a one-year workshop to redesign the value of the retail experience. “The project, which involved retail innovation, HR as well as store managers worldwide, will deliver during 2020 a new set of values to be integrated into the customer journey. It is also conceived as a training opportunity for the group’s professionals to faster adopt omnichannel strategies and processes,” said the spokesperson.
Prada last year revealed its sponsorship of the international master’s degree in luxury management (IMLux) and asked students to contribute ideas to face the challenges of real interest to the sector. In the fall, IMLux students will be invited to discover Prada’s industrial headquarters in Tuscany’s Valvigna through a one-day dedicated tour, meeting the company’s top management.
In March, students were asked to imagine how Prada could meet its challenging environmental sustainability targets, taking into consideration its participation in the Fashion Pact. “More than 50 international master candidates are working on a project to craft concrete suggestions to reduce the environmental impact of the group. In the following weeks, they will present the results of this research to group representatives focusing on training, performance and innovative solutions.”
As reported in February, the Italian luxury company partnered with UNESCO on an education program for high school students worldwide to raise awareness of, and promote, more responsible behavior toward the oceans. This project is in line with the agenda of the United Nations 2030 and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The project between Prada and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission will stretch over four months and start in the fall, as soon as schools reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It is financed through a portion of the sale proceeds from the Prada Re-Nylon capsule collection, donated to UNESCO’s IOC.
High school teachers in 10 cities around the world (in Berlin, Mexico City, Cape Town, Lisbon, London, Milan, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Venice) will participate in webinars where they will learn how to develop an educational module consisting of four lessons dedicated to sustainability. The last lesson will involve students in the creation of an awareness campaign for ocean conservation.
Later on, an international jury composed of members representing Prada and UNESCO and others will choose the winning campaign, which will be published on the group’s digital platforms.
Recently, Prada has again supported UNESCO through the Prada Possible Conversations project, Instagram Live dialogues by international thinkers on multiple disciplines. Each conversation will result in a donation to support UNESCO’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which focuses on the importance of culture, creativity, and education for over 1.5 billion students worldwide affected by school and university closures, as well as on a program to increase international cooperation in science.