Environment

Prada, UNESCO Unveil Ocean-focused Education Program for Toddlers in Venice

Prada, UNESCO Unveil Ocean-focused Education Program for Toddlers in Venice

VENICE, Italy — The latest initiative of the joint effort between Prada Group and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission to raise awareness of, and promote, more responsible behavior toward the oceans intends to educate toddlers aged three to six in order to shape their future sustainable inclinations.Part of the Sea Beyond educational program jumpstarted in 2019, the newest initiative— called “Kindergarten of the Lagoon” and based on the principles of outdoor education — was unveiled Wednesday at Ca’ Corner della Regina here, the historic home to Fondazione Prada in the lagoon.
“My priority is to lead the group through a more sustainable next decade, not only from an economic standpoint, but also [to act on] the cultural, social and environmental pillars,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, head of corporate social responsibility at the Prada Group.

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Developed by the Sea Beyond scientific committee, the education program will be presented to Venice kindergartens and families with kids in the target age group to eventually kick off as a pilot next September.
Its syllabus is based on the integration of indoor and outdoor education, with the ambition to help toddlers discover the lagoon, its flora and fauna, understand the factors contributing to sustainability and acquire an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach.
“The entire syllabus is based on the spread of the ecology culture and aimed at spurring a sense of belonging to the territory via multisensory activities,” explained Francesca Milan, an expert on environmental education and a member of the scientific committee.
According to Fabio Pranovi, professor at Venice’s Ca’ Foscari University and also part of the committee, the project will help students reconnect with the environment and discover the possibilities of integrated sustainability since the mind-set shift he is expecting from younger generations is understanding that responsible behavior is ultimately linked to the survival of the human species.
The project, which has received the support of local institutions, was described as an ongoing commitment by Bertelli. “When you address education and culture you ought to be patient, it requires time and the fruits will be harvested in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said.
He described the Sea Beyond project and the latest initiative as direct expressions of Prada Group’s and his family’s values. “If I had not been raised and given the education I did, when I joined the company in 2017, I would have never launched the Re-Nylon or the Sea Beyond project,” he said.
Sea Beyond is indirectly financed via the sale of fashion pieces crafted from Re-Nylon, which the group entirely shifted its nylon production to in 2021, two years after first debuting the eco-minded fabric.
“As of now, there’s no direct link between products sold and the project, but there’s more on our roadmap, which I cannot share yet,” the Prada executive said.
Asked about the broader impact the Sea Beyond project may have, Bertelli reiterated that all companies should do their part, but he hopes different entities will join the Prada-led program.

“We’re so convinced of this project that we’re all but jealous and we’d like together with UNESCO and other partners in the future to be able to shape it up to be an open-source platform to spread ocean literacy,” he said. “It’s better to join forces rather than venture in sporadic and solitary initiatives.”
According to the executive, the Prada Group “is showing a path to pursue for other companies in the industry, and if it works and other enterprises adopt this as a benchmark, the global amount of investments will increase,” allowing Sea Beyond to expand its scope, he said.
Ana Luiza Massot Thompson-Flores, director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, touted the project for representing a starting point and urged the international community to embrace education among its key pillars and favor ocean literacy to help nurture more responsible citizens.
“Ocean literacy refers not only to its knowledge but also to the education of the younger generations so that they feel able to act starting now, not in the future,” echoed Francesca Santoro, program specialist of UNESCO-IOC. Her hope is that it will set a precedent and trigger the education system across all UNESCO members to embrace ocean education as part of its syllabuses.
The project will be developed in partnership with Venice’s municipality. Asked about reaching out to Italy’s government to seek support for Sea Beyond, Bertelli said there are no ongoing conversations and that Prada Group doesn’t “want to snatch public funds to support a private initiative,” but it’s rather doing its part in to advance society.
Throughout 2022, Sea Beyond, now in its second operative year, will launch initiatives centered on three educational pillars targeting secondary schools; kids aged three to six, and the company’s employees. The project is in line with the Agenda of the United Nations 2030 and 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“All these initiatives are aimed at increasing the statistic likelihood that people will embrace morally right decisions,” Bertelli said.
Prada has been raising the bar on its sustainability goals, and in January, it appointed two new independent non-executive directors, Pamela Culpepper and Anna Maria Rugarli, selected for their professional background in environmental, social and governance, or ESG.

The company already publishes a CSR annual report and last year, it further committed to corporate social responsibility, reaffirming its objectives and starting a process to measure its carbon footprint after years of investing in the construction, refurbishment and efficiency of its industrial facilities, as well as in photovoltaics and renewable energy.
Prada, which is part of the Fashion Pact, during its Capital Markets Day in November revealed that its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets had been approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative and that its goal was to reach net-zero emissions in 2050.

Calzedonia Ups Sustainability Efforts, Starting With WWF Beach Clean-up Project

Calzedonia Ups Sustainability Efforts, Starting With WWF Beach Clean-up Project

MILAN — Calzedonia is pressing on with its sustainable mission, laying down a number of eco-friendly initiatives.The company has renewed its partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature, or WWF, engaging in beach clean-up initiatives that kicked off last week with a company-wide session on Venice’s Lido.
“Over 300 employees took part in the cleaning session, removing plastics and microplastics from the beaches. However, in addition to the project’s positive impact on the environment, it also had an educational bent, raising awareness among our employees,” said Marcello Veronesi, Calzedonia’s brand leader and the son of parent company Calzedonia Group founder and chairman Sandro Veronesi.

The 2022 goal is to clean up around 32 million square feet throughout Italy by engaging employees and citizens in one or more of the 100 clean-up days the WWF organizes annually. Last year, Calzedonia helped the WWF clean up 120 Italian beaches, or 70 million square feet, more than doubling the original goal.

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The executive underscored the positive impact such a move has had on customers and citizens, too, raising awareness on the pressing topic of climate change and environmental pollution.

Calzedonia and WWF beach clean-up initiative on Venice’s Lido beaches.
Courtesy of Calzedonia

A dedicated page on the WWF website allows anyone to apply and become a one-day volunteer during one of the clean-up days. Volunteers will be provided with gloves, a recycled cotton canvas bag and T-shirt bearing both entities’ logos. As a reward, Calzedonia will also offer a discount voucher.
Calzedonia customers will also be requested to support the WWF in monitoring and reporting on the state of the beaches’ pollution as part of a project called “Citizen Science.”
Since 2020, parent company Calzedonia Group has been issuing a sustainability report anticipating an Italian law that currently only requests public companies to do so. “Although the group is not listed, I believe we represent a significant contribution to Italy’s economic backbone and it was our duty to be transparent,” Veronesi offered.
Last year, the group managed to source 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources, avoiding 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. It also transitioned its use of regular paper and packaging to FSC-approved alternatives and pledged to plant 2 million trees to offset its footprint.

Marcello Veronesi, brand leader at Calzedonia.
Courtesy of Calzedonia

In 2019 the group joined the Fashion Pact and Veronesi said the group aims to meet higher sustainability standards by 2025 and become carbon neutral in the near future.
“Sustainability is an ongoing journey, it’s important to always be in tune with the times and ahead of them,” Veronesi noted.
To this end, the beachwear brand is testing the recycled waters, debuting this year two initiatives focused on swimwear and hosiery. Veronesi noted that the integrated supply chain, whereby 80 percent of manufacturing is carried out in-house is a great advantage and a step closer to achieving traceability credentials.
Starting May 13, all Calzedonia stores in Italy and a handful on international flagships in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Poland will start collecting worn-in swimsuits from all brands, 50 percent of which the label expects to be able to turn into recycled yarns. The beachwear specialist has teamed up with Artus, a sustainable solution provider offering its facilities and services to companies aiming to implement circular fashion projects.

Eco-friendly swimwear currently represents 24 percent of the brand’s offering, but Veronesi said his aim is to grow that quota to 31 percent by the end of the year.

Swimwear from Calzedonia spring 2022 collection.
Courtesy of Calzedonia

Come fall, the brand, which produces and sells around 70 million stockings yearly, will start a recycling pilot initiative on this front. Veronesi acknowledged the challenges in breathing new life in hosiery due to its mixed composition, which includes nylon, polyamide, elastane and more, but he anticipated that the brand will secure machinery that will bring recycling to an industrial scale.

Neiman Marcus Group Details ESG Initiatives

Neiman Marcus Group Details ESG Initiatives

The Neiman Marcus Group has developed an agenda of ESG investments and goals revolving around reducing emissions, eliminating products with fur, increasing the sale and awareness of sustainable products and furthering diversity and equity within its ranks.The program and its goals are spelled out in the luxury retailer’s first environmental social governance report, titled “Our Journey to Revolutionize Impact,” issued Wednesday.
“As a leader in luxury retail, ESG is an essential part of our growth roadmap,” said Geoffroy van Raemdonck, chief executive officer of the Neiman Marcus Group.
Among NMG’s goals:

Reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions 50 percent from a 2019 baseline by 2025, and perform a Scope 3 assessment in 2022 to understand the company’s position and chart a path toward a net zero goal. Scope 1, 2 and 3 refer to greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the activities of a company, and “upstream and downstream” activities including a company’s suppliers and the transport and disposal of goods.
Procure 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 across the business and join RE100, the global initiative by  businesses committed to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity.
Eliminate all products containing fur listed in NMG’s Animal Welfare Policy by 2023.
Increase revenue from the sale of sustainable and ethical products by 2025 by launching two sustainability edits at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman that identify categories within sustainable and ethical fashion.
Extend the useful life of over 1 million luxury items through circular services such as mending and alterations, restoration, resale and donation by 2025, building on the 350,000 products addressed in FY21.
Extending Neiman’s network of 10 in-store Fashionphile selling studios which authenticate and take in luxury products from customers, to every Neiman Marcus store.

Also on Wednesday, NMG selectively disclosed some highlights of its fiscal second quarter, which extended from November 2021 through January 2022, citing “strong full-price selling, significant gross margin expansion and high single-digit comparable sales growth.”

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NMG, which operates the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores and websites, cited adjusted EBITDA growth of 15 percent for the quarter compared to the same holiday period pre-COVID-19. Adjusted EBITDA for the 12 months ending January 2022 increased 26 percent compared to the pre-COVID-19 period ended January 2020.
However, NMG did not disclose any actual dollar figures for the top or bottom lines.
“We are very pleased with our strong holiday performance and second-quarter results,” van Raemdonck said. “We delivered healthy topline growth and significant margin expansion relative to the comparable pre-pandemic period. The strong growth we have continued to experience is a testament to our differentiated luxury business model, focus on a full-price strategy, and the ability and agility of our teams to continue to execute well while navigating a dynamic macro environment. NMG is a relationship business. Our brand partners continue to trust NMG because of our relationships with luxury customers, and customers know that we’ve curated an extraordinary assortment of the most desirable brands.”

NMG also reported current liquidity of $1.2 billion, versus $458 million a year ago, and has no borrowings outstanding on a $900 million revolver.
NMG emerged from five months of bankruptcy in September 2020 through a debt-for-equity deal with its new owners, enabling the company to eliminate more than $4 billion of debt and significant annual cash interest payments stemming from the debt, ranging from $200 million to over $300 million. The new owners are Pimco, Davidson Kempner Capital Management, and Sixth Street.
For its ESG strategy, NMG said it analyzed data from multiple sources, including ESG ratings and rankings, research reports from industry media outlets and trade associations, disclosures from NMG’s best-in-class peers, ESG reporting frameworks like Global Reporting Initiative and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, etc. to inform its strategy.
“We are proud that our first report aligns with external frameworks from SASB, GRI, and TCFD and provides investors with comparable and decision-useful information about the company’s ESG performance,” said Pamela Edwards, an NMG board member and chairperson of the audit committee. “It is our hope this will help investors and other key stakeholders share the board’s confidence in the strength of this company and its future as we seek to hold ourselves to public company standards while moving with the speed and agility of a private company.”
NMG officials characterize the company as outpacing the industry in terms of inclusivity and diversity. Its CEO is openly gay, and the majority of the board members are women, compared to the 26.7 percent industry standard, according to the 50/50 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index.
In addition, women at NMG make up 59 percent of the vice president level and above, and 68 percent of all corporate and store associates. The company was founded by Carrie Marcus Neiman.
The board’s audit committee members completed training on ESG oversight with Ceres and UC Berkeley School of Law. They reviewed the company’s ESG impacts, risks and opportunities, as well as the work of the newly developed ESG Steering Committee.
On the social and governance front, NMG listed the following goals:

Increase racial diversity at the vice president level and above to 21 percent by 2025 and 28 percent by 2030. NMG is partnering with McKinsey’s Connected Leaders Academy, Prospanica, and Fashion Scholarship Fund to develop and attract BIPOC talent.
Advance workplace equity, invest in a pay equity study this year, and introduce 16 weeks of paid parental leave to cover associates’ child bonding, adoption and surrogacy needs.
Support women-founded fashion tech companies like Fashionphile and Stylyze. In 2019, NMG bought a minority stake in Fashionphile which specializes in the buying and selling of used luxury handbags, jewelry and accessories. Last year, NMG purchased outright Stylyze, a machine learning SaaS platform for personalization.
Increase spending with diverse retail and non-retail suppliers.
Partner with customers to raise $3 million for charity through The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.
Increase associate giving and volunteerism.
Support disaster preparedness and relief “to keep store communities thriving.”

“NMG’s first-ever ESG Report is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the true impact Neiman’s has had on the lives of our customers, associates, brand partners, and the communities in which we do business,” said Eric Severson, chief people and belonging officer, Neiman Marcus Group.

With COP26 Failing To Address the Commitments Required by Our Climate Crisis, Is It Time Fashion Looks to Others for Guidance?

With COP26 Failing To Address the Commitments Required by Our Climate Crisis, Is It Time Fashion Looks to Others for Guidance?

I am curious to know how Palt feels, not only because I am a strong believer that businesses have a huge part to play in driving change, but also because her reputation precedes her. “I have mixed feelings about COP26, because the pledges and the commitments show that there is more awareness, and everybody understands that we have to take this seriously. That’s the positive part,” she tells me. “The less positive part is certainly that there are missing concrete commitments for 2030. How are we going to make this happen?”
Sand artwork highlights climate change ahead of COP26. Photo: Getty
How do you measure success? Which metrics and data do you use to know that your commitments are bearing results and are not just a greenwashing exercise? “When we define sustainability targets, we know what the science tells us needs to be done,” Palt says. “And once we have defined that, our targets get aligned with that. I like ambitious targets. Sometimes it means you are not going to achieve every single thing. They are visionary targets – but then you must give yourself the means of achieving it. It takes leadership, courage, and transparency to manage transformation.”
By now you should all know that for me and everyone at Eco-Age, sustainability is as much about environmental justice as it is about social justice. I am used to hearing companies talk about the environmental impact of what they do – look at Kering Group, for example, with its groundbreaking environmental profit and loss reporting. But what about the social side? Palt agrees. “This sustainability transformation is going to happen in a just way only if we accompany it with more social measures, because as long as people are living in survival mode – without adequate food, schooling, or healthcare – they will not protect the environment.”

I’ve never heard much of this kind of reasoning, and Palt intrigues me. “I want to act for change,” she continues. “We can have philosophical discussions, but when you look at what needs to be done in the next 10 years, you have a much more realistic chance of turning the boat around if, instead of focusing on getting out of the economic system that we have, we work to transform it to a circular model. If you are going to tell people, ‘You need to drastically change your lifestyle,’ they won’t do it. You need to tell them, ‘Keep enjoying life, but you now buy this bottle made of recycled plastic or you have to refill this chargeable container.’ We need the consumer to start following us and adopting new practices.”
Alexandra Palt
For me this has always been where the truth lies. Fast fashion companies use the excuse that it’s not up to them to stop producing tons of clothes, because the consumer keeps wanting to buy more. When I mention this to Palt, she pauses for a moment. “Consumers ask for more sustainability, but there is an incoherence between what they say and how they act. I think that’s normal when social change is happening. And I agree with you, some people use that as an excuse to keep doing business as usual. But the discrepancy between knowing and doing is getting smaller.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that unfortunately it is taking more time than we have. L’Oréal is doing a lot of different things to contribute to this awareness, and we also have a role to make responsibility aspirational. We have created a consortium to exchange information with the other big players in the industry to help create a level playing field with one common science-based methodology, and one way to talk to consumers so they can compare the environmental footprint of all products without getting confused. This is fundamental.”

Hearing this makes me realize once again how much fashion is lagging and losing momentum and opportunities to align and drive change. Why is fashion always so slow? I ask Palt – a woman and lawyer by training – what’s the biggest lesson she has learned working in this field. “Coming from the NGO sector, I never expected that L’Oréal would move so fast, so much. And what I learned in the beauty industry is the complexity of the mind of the consumer.
We invest so much time and money in, say, developing refillable makeup, and then the consumer says, ‘Thank you, but no thank you.’ The human brain is complicated. My challenge now and the big question I have is, are we going to be able to deploy the speed and acceleration necessary to manage the big change we need?”
If I look at what happened at COP26, my answer is definitely no. But talking to Palt gives me hope that beauty, truly, lies in character. And if this is the character we need to bring about the transformation needed, let’s clone her and get the job done.
Originally published in the December 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia

Burberry Makes History with this Groundbreaking Pledge

Burberry Makes History with this Groundbreaking Pledge

Riccardo Tisci at Shotover House in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, UK
Burberry announces today that it pledges to become the first Climate Positive luxury brand by 2040. This development follows the house’s original pledge to be net-zero by 2040. “I have always had a very deep, emotional connection to nature,” states Riccardo Tisci, chief creative officer at Burberry. “It has a power and a purity that gives you a sense of coming back to yourself and of what is really important in life. I am so proud that as a company we are making these inspiring steps to protect our beautiful planet and the future for our next generations.”
Burberry, a British house founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry and which holds two Royal Warrants (1955 and 1990), commits to cutting emissions across its extended supply chain by 46% by 2030 and developing projects which support others in their respective carbon journeys. It also announces its support for the Fashion Avengers, a coalition of global fashion organizations that have come together to inspire action towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Burberry VP of Corporate Responsibility Pamela Batty discuses the pledge with Vogue Arabia
What does “climate positive” actually mean?Becoming Climate Positive means going one step further than our existing 2040 net-zero pledge. To achieve this, we will not only work to reduce emissions within our own value chain, but we will also invest in initiatives and projects that support wider climate change efforts beyond our business – including programs that protect and restore natural ecosystems that remove carbon from the atmosphere – which we hope will have a lasting positive environmental impact for future generations.
Can you list some of the major challenges that will make this a 19-year process?There are several challenges associated with reaching Climate Positive. It requires real system change, but this can be solved by collective action and industry collaboration, which is why we’re calling on the rest of the industry to join us in accelerating our shared efforts. We’ll also focus on supporting the many businesses in our supply chain who will be essential to what we’re trying to achieve, and constantly stepping up how we measure and report on our progress.
Finally, it’s crucial that we continue to adapt to what our customers want and expect from us, all while continuing to meet our targets. We see this as an opportunity for innovation and creativity: to find new ways to produce items our customers love while also protecting the planet.
What is the Burberry Regeneration Fund?The Burberry Regeneration Fund was set up in 2020 to support a number of carbon offsetting and insetting projects, which enable us to store carbon and promote biodiversity, facilitate the restoration of ecosystems and support the livelihoods of local producers. Rather than simply purchasing offsets to cancel out our impact, we invest in insetting projects, reducing our emissions and storing carbon at source in our own supply chain.
For our inaugural project, we are partnering with PUR Project to design and implement regenerative agricultural practices with its wool producers in Australia. The project works at farm level to improve carbon capture in soils, improve watershed and soil health and promote biodiverse habitats.
You have stated that this is a bold new standard for luxury. Does this mean that no other luxury brand has a project on par?To our knowledge, we’re the only luxury fashion brand to have set ourselves a climate positive and net zero target by 2040. Our hope is that following our pledge, others in the industry will feel inspired to follow suit and take action to decarbonize the industry and align with the Paris Agreement. That’s why we’re active in several networks which aim to drive bolder and faster progress – like the UNFCCC’s Fashion Charter, the G7 Fashion pact, and the UN Race to Zero.
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Tom Ford, 52HZ Ask Inventors and Entrepreneurs to Find Thin-Film Plastic Alternatives

Tom Ford, 52HZ Ask Inventors and Entrepreneurs to Find Thin-Film Plastic Alternatives

Tom Ford and 52HZ, a strategy and creative agency that helps nongovernmental organizations, brands and people change the world, said today the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is now accepting submissions from inventors, entrepreneurs and those invested in the fight against plastic pollution to accelerate meaningful innovation around a replacement for thin-film plastic.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is the only competition focused exclusively on material science innovation to encourage the creative development and adoption of affordable and scalable alternatives to thin-film plastic.
The two-year competition, followed by three years of support for competition finalists, offers a prize purse total of $1.2 million. The prize aims to offer dedicated support to help finalists reach scale and market adoption by 2025, creating an inflection point in the fight against plastic pollution.

“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” said Dr. Dune Ives, chief executive officer of Lonely Whale, which recently launched 52HZ. “The origin story of plastic starts with an innovation prize and the solution to the plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. As a campaign organization capable of catalyzing global change on a massive scale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is an opportunity to create another new beginning and promote solutions commensurate with the plastic pollution problem.”

Lonely Whale was founded by Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner in 2015. Lonely Whale’s campaigns have reached more than one billion readers, listens and viewers through activations, social and traditional media.
Today, thin-film plastic comprises 46 percent of the about 11 million metric tons of plastic that leaks into the ocean annually, a figure that’s expected to nearly triple to 29 million metric tons by 2040. Just two products — single-use resealable sandwich storage bags and plastic poly bags used by the fashion industry — represent more than 300 billion thin-film plastic bags disposed of annually. The Tom Ford prize will enable competition finalists to bring biologically degradable thin-film plastic alternatives to market, so the ocean does not continue to pay the price of these products.

Thin-film plastic accounts for 46 percent of all ocean plastic leakage. 

“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” said Tom Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tools on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46 percent of all plastic waste entering our ocean. We will continue to advocate for the adoption of the winning innovations and will do whatever we can to turn the tide of plastic pollution and thin-film plastic specifically. We need to work towards finding a solution before it’s too late to save our environment.”
Ford, who in addition to being a designer and chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is an award-winning screenwriter, producer and film director.
A panel or industry-leading judges, led by Ford, will vet and stress-test submission to ensure they have a positive impact on the environment, and they are also scalable and market-ready by 2025. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize Investment Alliance will be chaired by investor Matt Grossman.

Judges include Andrew Forrest AO, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and Minderoo Foundation; Audrey Choi, chief marketing officer and chief sustainability officer at Morgan Stanley; Danni Washington, science communicator and founder of The Big Blue & You, honorary doctor of science; Don Cheadle, actor and filmmaker; Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age; Melati Wijsen, activist and founder of Youthopia and Bye Bye Plastic Bags; Saskia van Gendt, head of sustainability at Rothy’s; Stella McCartney; Susan Rockefeller, documentary filmmaker and founder of Musings Magazine; Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, and True Styler, actress, film producer and director.
Judges will work with a panel of scientific and technical experts from fields such as materials science, ocean health and product development, such as Dr. Ramani Narayan, university distinguished professor at Michigan State University in the department of chemical engineering and materials science. To ensure that the thin-film alternatives sourced through the prize are capable of solving the impact on the ocean, the prize evaluation criteria includes a comprehensive set of lab and field testing analyses conducted in partnership with the Bioseniatic Laboratory at the UGA New Materials Institute.
Submissions to the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open today through Oct. 24. Information is available at plasticprize.org.

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VF Corp. Sets Goal to Eliminate all Single-Use Plastic Packaging by 2025
Vuori Vows to Help Eliminate Plastic Waste From Oceans
Tom Ford Calls Fashion a “Relentless Business” in Sharing the Industry’s Realities and Rewards

Aigle Adopts Purpose-Driven Focus, Will Others Jump In, Too?

Aigle Adopts Purpose-Driven Focus, Will Others Jump In, Too?

PARIS — The pandemic has upended traditional approaches to business, prompting apparel brands to cast around for ways to secure their futures amid the upheaval — while showing consumers their values are in the right place.
In France, outerwear specialist Aigle, famous for rubber boots in navy blue, has seized on a recently introduced law in the country and adopted a purpose driven focus. Other apparel companies could follow suit — WWD has spoken to some who are studying the question.
France’s so-called Pacte law of 2019 allows companies to introduce a broader mission with social or environmental objectives to their activities — which are inscribed in company bylaws. The law allowing a business to become an “entreprise à mission” was drawn up with the aim of showing a socially minded public that companies can serve a role beyond the pursuit of profits, and prove their worth to society as a whole.

“It seems the public needs proof — beyond claims and slogans — and the advantage of adopting a mission-based focus is that it serves as means of proof,” explained Anne-France Bonnet, founder of Nuova Vista, a purpose-driven consulting firm that specializes in CSR matters.
The executive noted that the legal inscription of the mission, combined with both internal and external audits, serve as a proof of commitment.

It also helps that the companies themselves define the terms of their mission — in contrast to the legal framework for benefit corporations, or B Corps, in the U.S.
The process for signing up for France’s purpose-driven legal status generally entails a long period of reflection, and those signing up for it tend to be smaller, privately owned companies, although Danone is an example of a larger firm that has done so. The yogurt and water group became the first public company to adopt the French legal framework and has set out its mission as seeking to “bring health through food to as many people as possible.”
Aigle, meanwhile, belongs to the private, family-owned, Swiss-based MF Brands Group, which counts a number of labels including Lacoste, Gant and The Kooples.
For the past year and a half, through its “Aigle Positive Impact” program, the bootmaker has been focusing on offering lasting products, sharing expertise on the environmental front and reducing its carbon imprint.
Aigle has set targets including reducing its carbon impact by 46 percent by 2030, with a focus on producing so-called eco-design products, that carry a minimal environmental footprint, by 2022. The aim is for over half of collections to be made up of “eco-responsible” products.
The brand is also getting involved in the secondhand market with a platform dubbed “Second Souffle,” French for “second wind,” collecting used clothing at drop-off points in stores and clothing repair workshops. The label seeks to promote ecologically minded behavior in the workplace through recycling and sorting garbage, as well as its new headquarters in Paris, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions.
“In a sector with a strong environmental impact, all efforts, no matter how small, can have a positive effect — this is the meaning of the Aigle Positive Impact program, act at the scale of of our influence,” said the company’s chief executive officer Sandrine Conseiller.

“This can be directly, by making products responsibly, or indirectly, by helping consumer behavior to evolve, and in the longer term, by reducing our impact on the planet,” Conseiller added.
“Beyond our individual actions, collective efforts can help our model evolve to become more sustainable, this is the idea behind the Fashion Pact, for example,” she said.
While younger enterprises like startups are showing interest in adopting the purpose-driven status, larger, well-established companies would do well to consider the structure, said Bonnet, expressing surprise that older generations seem a bit wary of the idea.
“There’s nothing exceptional in adopting a mission, it seems normal — what’s interesting in the model is that it’s the company that fixes its objectives.”
The executive has encountered executives who ask “what will I have to give up?”
“I tell them it’s absurd what you are saying, because you are the one deciding what to do,” she said.
“You’re taking the reins and betting on your future,” she added, noting that people who own their own projects tend to be more daring when it comes to pursing this direction, whereas larger companies tend to be managed by people who are more caught up with political considerations, and hampered by complexity.
Purpose-driven companies are still working out how to communicate about their missions to end consumers, added Bonnet.
“It’s a bit hard to explain at the end of the chain,” she said.
French apparel company Faguo, which sells sneakers made from recycled materials, gained the purpose-driven status last year, with goals that include reducing and offsetting carbon emissions and promoting healthier clothing consumption habits.
Contemporary French fashion label Ba&sh, which just unveiled its sustainability program dubbed ‘Blossom manifesto,’ and emphasizes its focus on supporting women, is also exploring the subject.
“It’s important, if you are taking actions that go beyond regulation standards, if you don’t communicate about it, you fail to live up to your duty of transparency with your consumers — you have an obligation,” said Pierre-Arnaud Grenade, CEO of the label. “Say what you do — don’t just do what you say.”

Attractive designs, of course, serve as the basis for generating business, mission-oriented or not, and Aigle has called on the design trio of fashion label Études Studio – Aurélien Arbet, Jérémie Egry and José Lamali – to draw up collections and beef up the fashion quotient of the brand’s image.
“Sustainable activity is not incompatible with profitable activity, and sustainable fashion is not incompatible with a desirable silhouette — this is the reasoning behind recruiting our new artistic directors,” said Conseiller.
Aigle’s purpose-driven status has got Études Studio founders thinking.
“We discovered it through Aigle and we’re asking ourselves the question, at Études, how can we engage ourselves in this manner — we’re starting to look into it,” Arbet said.

COVID-19 Pandemic Not Stopping Bally Peak Outlook Foundation

COVID-19 Pandemic Not Stopping Bally Peak Outlook Foundation

MILAN — The COVID-19 pandemic is not stopping Bally from its long-term commitment to the local communities in Nepal, which is also shining a light on a trailblazing female entrepreneur, Yankila Sherpa.
Bally chief executive officer Nicolas Girotto said Nepal was hard hit by the pandemic as its tourism industry supports more than one million jobs and comprises 7.9 percent of its gross domestic product. The Bally Peak Outlook Foundation project, established last year, was able to provide critical income for local communities in the Himalayan region. It helped employ professional climbers, cleaners, sorters, packers, porters, as well as dedicated support teams on the ground at each base camp, who were all native to the mountain region. In 2019, Nepal hosted nearly 1.2 million international arrivals, of which Everest climbers spent about $300 million alone.

The Bally Peak Outlook Foundation has pledged to sponsor critical clean-ups of Mount Everest and seven 8,000-meter peaks in the Himalayan region by 2022, working with the local Sherpa communities.
“Our approach was not to slow down, despite the difficulties of this unprecedented moment, but we moved as a company, partnering and helping the Sherpas and raising awareness on the need to clean up the mountains,” said Girotto. “COVID-19 took a toll on all companies, but it would be a mistake to think in the short term. That’s why we did not change our plans.”

Last fall, Bally returned to the Himalayas fulfilling the first half of its “8 x 8,000 M” pledge to clean up the base camps of Nepal’s eight 8,000-meter mountains. The preservation project will be phased out over two years. Following a delay due to pandemic-related restrictions closing the spring climbing season, Dawa Steven Sherpa, who also led Bally Peak Outlook’s 2019 initiative to clean Everest from base camp to the peak, embarked on a 47-day expedition in September to clean the base camps of Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu, removing 2.2 tons of waste.
Since official trails were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, and to avoid inter-village transmission, the climbers took remote routes that were even more dangerous, climbing two mountains, and crossing four alpine glaciated passes. Half of the expedition was composed of ethnic Sherpas, used to living in extreme mountain conditions.
Bally created five short documentaries to highlight the Sherpa voices. Dawa, who is an environmental activist and tourism entrepreneur, introduced Everest in the first episode, having led expeditions that have removed more than 20,000 kg. of garbage since 2008. Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the son of Tenzing Norgay, who first reached the summit of Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary while wearing signature Bally Reindeer boots, speaks in the second film.
The third episode features Yankila Sherpa, who hails from Olangchung Gola, a remote village of Eastern Nepal. She speaks to the spiritual relationship that Sherpa communities share with the mountains, including Makalu.
As the chief adviser of the Nepal Mountaineering Association and vice president of the Trans-Himalayan Environment and Livelihood Program, she is an advocate for women’s empowerment and promotes responsible tourism. She is the former tourism minister of Nepal. She has also held various other leadership positions, including former president of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs of Nepal and Trekking Agency Association of Nepal. Her work has included closing the gender gap for women in Nepal’s tourism industry, addressing challenges women locally face in securing funding to own a business and access to education to achieve more senior roles.

“For the Sherpa people, the mountains are the abodes of the gods, so they do a lot of rituals before the climb actually starts. The prayer flags are hung up, and the incense is burnt, and the prayer flags are fluttering, that means now the gods are with me and I am able to climb the mountain successfully. For me the mountains are the most beautiful pieces of heritage on the earth,” she said. “Tourism is also about preserving our Himalayas and the ambience and the atmosphere, the way it was in ancient times. Spiritualism is an integral part of the life of Sherpas and people who live in the high mountain areas, and spiritual places have to be kept pure.”
The fourth documentary follows expert climber Naga Dorjee Sherpa, who was born and raised in the Everest region’s Khumjung village.
Girotto underscored that the Bally Peak Outlook project is “a catalyst” for the employees of the company, each motivated “to do what you can that is within your reach on a day-to-day basis. It’s inspirational. We are not pretending we are solving the problem the environment is facing, but we have been collecting 4.5 tons of waste in two years.”
Bally laid out its Sustainability Roadmap in 2020, based on four pillars: transparency, quality, collaboration and progress. By 2050, the company aims to have net-zero carbon emissions.
“Seventy-five percent of energy comes from renewable energy in our main headquarters in Caslano [Switzerland], ahead of our plans. We have also introduced more sustainable and natural dyes and for spring 2022, we are employing dead stock fabrics, recycled nylon and regenerated leather, equivalent to saving two tons of plastic,” said Girotto.
For fall, Bally raised the bar on eco-friendly materials, unveiling jersey pants in a natural pomegranate dye, for example, or the Cliff bags for men in vegetable-tanned leather, free of synthetic finishing.

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