Saving Gaia
“In light of global warming and increasingly scarce resources, here are some luxury brands that have Mother Earth at heart.”

Tiffany & Co.

When it comes to sustainable businesses, a few things — such as fashion, beauty and food - come immediately to mind. Diamonds, however, are relatively unheard of. Which is why it was such a revelation when luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co. revealed its dedication to making its business sustainable.

“Tiffany believes we have both a moral and a business imperative to do our part to sustain the natural environment and contribute to the communities where we operate,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, the brand’s chief sustainability officer. The brand is so dedicated to its cause that it is one of the rare jewellery companies that can trace the entire journey of its diamonds - from its mining processes to the moment it is placed in stores as a polished gem — thanks to its subsidiary Laurelton Diamonds, which was established in 2002 to source, cut, polish and supply finished stones to Tiffany & Co.

The brand has also stopped questionable practices, including using coral in its products and opposing mine developments in places like Bristol Bay, Alaska and Yellowstone National Park, which are known for their ecological and cultural value. It’s more than just diamonds though. The brand’s packaging, in an iconic blue, is made with more than 89% of recycled content; it has been so since 2015.

Stella McCartney

One of the pioneer luxury fashion brands when it comes to sustainability, Stella McCartney’s gorgeous vegan designs prove that going eco-friendly doesn’t have to mean compromising on style and quality.

The fashion designer and animal-rights supporter began her label in 2001 and was already known for her strong stance against fur. Since then, the Stella McCartney brand has been synonymous with eco-friendly fashion. So far, the brand has managed to successfully incorporate sustainable materials - including recycled marine plastic, vegetarian leather, regenerated cashmere and viscose - that are also free of animal products such as animal leather, exotic skins, fur and feathers into its collection of clothes and accessories. It is also an advocate of cruelty-free products; in fact, the brand does not sell its fragrances in China, where animal testing is required by the government.

As if all these steps aren’t admirable enough, the Stella McCartney brand is also seeking to improve working conditions through the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The ETI consists of unions and companies dedicated to ensuring and improving working conditions worldwide.

Adidas

The athletic brand made waves in 2016 when it announced its collaboration with Parley, an organisation that raises awareness of pollution and other issues pertaining to our oceans, to create a shoe that’s made out of ocean waste.

Recreating its popular Ultraboost shoe, the green editions are made out of plastic debris found in the ocean — about 11 plastic bottles per pair - and other recycled materials.

Before its revolutionary launch, the brand had used recycled polyester and sustainable cotton in previous products, but on a smaller scale.

Although it may not be the first brand that comes to mind when it comes to eco-friendly businesses, Adidas does take an environmental approach via its Sustainability Strategy when it comes to “steadily increasing the use of more sustainable materials in our production, products and stores while driving towards closed-loop solutions”.

Manolo Blahnik

The luxury shoe designer teamed up with designer Marcia Patmos in 2011 to create an eco-friendly line that has items made from “discarded tilapia skins, cork and raffia”.

The brand is known for its work with leather and exotic skins, so it came as a surprise when it teamed with Patmos, who runs her own eco-friendly label, for the 2012 spring/summer collection.

“I love bringing the idea of sustainability into the luxury market - it doesn’t have to be limited to T-shirts and grocery bags,” says Patmos.

The collection is, so far, Blahnik’s first and only eco-friendly collection.

G-Star Raw

Specialising in making cutting-edge jeans out of raw denim (hence the name), the Dutch brand has gained cult status among the hipster and urban crowds since its inception in 1989.

But it wasn’t till 2013 that the brand put out its first ecofriendly collection. That was when G-Star Raw collaborated with award-winning singer Pharrell Williams and New Yorkbased start-up Bionic Yarn on using sustainable materials in its jeans.

Raw for the Ocean, comprising jeans made out of ocean debris, was introduced to the world in 2014. Since its debut, Raw for the Ocean has been said to use up to 10% of plastic per collection. Williams, who is an advocate for sustainable living, says, “I have a connection with the ocean. It yields so much life, including our own. So we owe it.”

According to its website, G-Star Raw uses sustainable materials like “organic cotton, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, Better Cotton and Tencel (a sustainable fabric made from wood cellulose)” in its products.

Giorgio Armani

The brand took its first step into channelling eco-luxury when Livia Firth made her red carpet appearance at the 2012 Golden Globes in an Armani dress made from recycled plastic bottles.

It has to be said, though, that the brand has been using hemp, an eco-friendly fabric, in its collections since 1995.

Giorgio Armani himself also famously declared his intention to go fur-free from autumn/winter 2016 onwards. In 2012, Armani provided 43.3 million litres of safe drinking water to populations in need via the Green Cross organisation.

If anything, the esteemed designer sums it up best. “If people want to change, they will. If they don’t want to, it’s hard to make them do so,” he stresses. “The current interest in the environment is a good thing. The best way to make a contribution in fashion is to promote the idea that a fundamental interest in preserving the environment is itself fashionable.”