Carole Collet, Toni Belloni, Jeremy Till, Anne Smith and Chantal Gaemperle

LONDON — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has teamed with Central Saint Martins on a sustainable fashion innovation program, and the luxury giant admitted the road ahead is a long one.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Toni Belloni, LVMH group managing director, on Thursday evening during a panel discussion at CSM regarding the partnership.

“The idea is not to be static. Innovation is the engine of our growth. Sustainability has become a common concern to society in the last 20 years. It’s important to all of us. For students, they want to work for companies that design a better future for the world,” he continued.

“Our customers don’t just want a great product or a striking experience, they are starting to be much more interested in what’s behind the brands, the values and behavior,” said the executive. “We are very open to ideas. We are very pragmatic. Together, we can push the envelope of innovation on this subject.”

As reported, the initiative is intended to foster sustainable practices in education, research and business protocol. The partners are calling their new alliance “Double Vision: Innovation, Sustainability, Luxury,” and are aiming to build more sustainable methods and approaches by enhancing the curricula at CSM.

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To mark the launch, the school hosted a panel discussion at the LVMH Lecture Theatre at CSM’s Granary Square campus in London. Earlier on Thursday, the company held a series of career sessions for students during which members of the creative, business and human resources teams from 14 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, J.W. Anderson and Nicholas Kirkwood, were present.

In addition to Belloni, panelists at the evening session included Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH group executive vice president, human resources and synergies; professor Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins, pro vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London; Anne Smith, dean of academic programs, and Carole Collet, the new CSM LVMH director of sustainable innovation.

The school plans to host a series of sustainability-driven projects, workshops and events with one or two conferences to be held annually. In addition, CSM will offer its research facilities to LVMH, and the luxury group will work with CSM students or graduates on various consultancy projects.

Belloni said that for LVMH, business is about quality craftsmanship. “The brands are expressions of culture and preservation of artisanal craft and know-how. It’s about the preservation of rare, raw materials. Our products are made to last. They are made more long-life and long-usage and in some cases for repair. They are built for quality that lasts,” he explained.

Gaemperle said innovation and sustainability are key for the group — and the next generation. “We want to create dreams,” said Gaemperle. “We want to nurture desire, making sure that what was founded many, many years ago [stays] relevant and still inspirational. It’s important to be outward-looking.”

She added: “Responsible practices must guide us on how we conduct business. There are many new territories to explore. The idea is that we work together to make the impossible possible for the future. We have set a number of important goals in the area of sustainability by 2020.”

CSM’s Smith promised that the partners would “think outside the box and come up with new proposals and solutions. The potential to be thought leaders for innovative sustainable solutions — particularly from a luxury standpoint to lead the way — is an exciting prospect. None of us have all the answers yet, but I am confident that we will come up with those answers.”

LVMH has partnered with CSM in the past on various projects, such as design forums, sponsored student projects and scholarships.

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