PARIS — As part of its efforts to improve traceability and working conditions in its supply chain, French luxury group Kering plans to establish its own hand-embroidery workshop in India with the aim of supplying a significant part of the requirements of its brands.
The owner of brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga said India still relies partly on small local subcontractors, which remain plagued by issues such as inadequate working conditions, including low wages and insufficient health and safety measures, despite ongoing efforts by industry players including Kering.
“Significant progress has been made, but at a too slow pace,” the group said.
In an interview with WWD in 2018, Kering chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault denounced working conditions in parts of India, renowned as a center of excellence for hand embroidery, as unacceptable.
“The working conditions in which some — fortunately, not all — luxury embroidery is produced in India border on slavery. It’s an issue we must tackle. It’s complex because it’s in India and we’re not talking about the whole production, just a small part of it. It’s often subcontracted. We want to act fairly quickly on this,” he said.
Kering hopes to get a better grasp of the issues by establishing its own facility in India, although it did not provide a time frame for achieving this goal.
“The goal is not to cover 100 percent of Kering brands’ hand-embroidery works, but rather to get a direct and concrete knowledge of hand embroidery — from both a business and a technical perspective — and thus, also be able to better collaborate with external suppliers as regards working conditions, wages, prices and contractual commitments,” the group said.
As sustainability battles heat up across the fashion industry — from fast fashion to luxury — Kering recently reported it lowered its environmental impact by 14 percent between 2015 and 2018. The group said it’s on a “positive trajectory” to reach its 40 percent reduction in environmental impacts by 2025.
It said it has reached 88 percent of traceability for key raw materials, with a goal of 100 percent by 2025.