On Monday, a day prior to World Environment Day, the luxury company launched Gucci Equilibrium at Equilibrium.gucci.com, a destination billed as “designed to connect people, planet and purpose.”
“We have been working on sustainability for so long and we realized at one point that our actions needed to be better understood within and outside the company,” president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri told WWD. The site is also seen as a communications tool that is useful for the 13,000 Gucci employees.
“Gucci Equilibrium will bring clarity and show the architecture of our projects,” said Bizzarri, emphasizing the work done together with creative director Alessandro Michele for the past three and a half years, and also crediting parent company Kering ceo François-Henri Pinault for being one of the firsts in the industry to channel his efforts into such ventures, ticking off Chime for Change, or a focus on diversity, “which largely anticipated the times. He transmits his energy to all of us.”
The executive said the company is also working on the implementation of an innovative program that will allow every Gucci employee to dedicate 1 percent of their working time to volunteering in order to have a positive impact on local communities. “If each employee is involved — bingo,” Bizzarri said. “We can’t save the world alone, but we must start from small things, and there are no shortcuts.”
“These are critical times when we can all play our part in helping to deliver on the UN Global Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement,” Bizzarri noted. “The only way to do that is by bringing people together, sharing ideas, innovation and experiences. This is the objective we have set for Gucci Equilibrium.”
The launch is part of a 10-year plan to embed a comprehensive sustainability strategy into and around the brand, governed by its culture of purpose, anchored on three pillars covering the environment, people and new models of sustainable innovation, leveraging for example the company’s ArtLab leather goods and shoe complex outside Florence, inaugurated in April, to develop new solutions by applying technical innovation to improve efficiency in its production and logistics.
Bizzarri underscored the authenticity of the values, which are in line with Gucci, and how Equilibrium will help communicate all this. “We have focused on environment for the past 10 years, promoting traceability with the tanneries,” he said.
Gucci has set a target to reduce its environmental impacts and to guarantee the traceability of 95 percent of raw materials. For example, it has pioneered the development of “Scrap-less,” a program that runs in association with tanneries to significantly reduce the quantity of leather that is treated during the manufacturing process, leading to energy, water and chemical use savings.
The company has also been recognizing the value of its employees, through responsible and innovative management of its supply chain, for example. Gucci was awarded The Green Carpet Fashion Award for Sustainable Innovation last year and is committed to overturning gender imbalance and inequality. To wit, women make up 59 percent of senior managers. In addition Gucci campaigns to support girls’ and women’s empowerment, diversity and inclusion, becoming the first luxury fashion brand to join Parks — Liberi e Uguali — an employers alliance that ensures the right framework and strategies to respect diversity throughout the company.
Gucci Equilibrium features “I was a Sari,” a social enterprise founded by Stefano Funari. The company works with women from marginalized communities in Mumbai, upcycling saris and teaching new skills to bring recurring income and opportunities to these women for the first time. The partnership with Gucci includes the upcycling of leftover scrap leather and embroidery materials to produce one-off handcrafted designs. “Working with Gucci’s local specialist embroidery suppliers allows these women to build their expertise in the finest embroidery techniques, and this helps them have access to a craft that was previously out of bounds for them,” Bizzarri said.
The brand also continues to lead the conversation on gender equality through its Chime for Change girls’ and women’s empowerment campaign. Since Gucci cofounded Chime for Change with Salma Hayek and Beyoncé in 2013, the two organizations have worked closely on multiple projects to help girls and women around the world, including UNICEF’s Girls’ Empowerment Initiative, Hayek’s appeals to support Syrian refugees in 2015 and those affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico in 2017, in addition to Beyoncé’s BeyGood4Burundi program. To date, Chime for Change has raised $10 million to support 420 projects with 153 partners in 88 countries. Through these projects, the campaign’s support has directly benefited more than 400,000 girls and women, and reached nearly three million family and community members.
The third pillar, new models, drives Gucci to invest in “scouting, incubators, start-ups that can really change things,” Bizzarri observed. He ticked off 3-D technology, which “could reduce lead time and the impact on the environment,” as well as creating in vitro hides. “But we are not there yet,” he noted.