After a tenacious protestor stormed Louis Vuitton’s turn on the runway during Paris Fashion Week’s finale event, certain topics and questions started to arise.
Why was Louis Vuitton targeted? Was it a shot fired at the brand, or the fashion industry as a whole? And how far has high fashion actually come in sustainability efforts?
26-year-old Marie Cohuet emerged as the impromptu model on the Lourve museum’s stage, boasting a white banner with black words that yelled “overconsumption = extinction”. The fashion world may once upon a time have rolled their eyes, however, times have changed. Sustainable fashion is in vogue, and it’s far from trendy to ignore environmental impact. Fashion housesaround the world are becoming more concerned with branding themselves around environmental pillars, and as a result, a message like Cohuet’s aren’t exactly taken lightly.
Extinction Rebellion and Amis de la Terre, or Friends of the Earth and Youth For Climate activists had other messages that “infiltrated the podium”. These included :
“No fashion on a dead planet”, “Fashion change not climate change” and“Climate is a fashion victim” as per Totally Vegan Buzz.
Thirty people were involved in the protest’s planning. Cohuet didn’t spend long on the runway before security guards ushered her away, as Fashion United reports, and two protestors were arrested.
Considering how intensely many fashion houses are focusing on eco-fashion and sustainable fashion, Marie Cohuet’s performance was no small feat. Here’s the break down behind the stunt.
Targeting LV was symbolic
“We chose LVMH symbolically because it is one of the most influential houses” Ms. Cohuet expressed as per The New York Times.
She referred to Louis Vuitton’s parent organisation, LVMH which is the world’s largest luxury goods company by revenue.
“LVMH makes their frantic declarations about being the most advanced in the sector in terms of limiting their impacts, but we see that in reality it is not true.”
The luxury brand has not issued a statement on the storming.
The message was targeted at the government too
The government was called upon to enforce cutting production levels in the fashion sector. The activists called for an immediate reduction in production levels, and brought to light that 42 items of clothing were sold per person in France in 2019 alone, which has proven to be a counter-productive trend in terms of up-cycling.
What is Louis Vuitton actually doing for sustainable fashion?
In 2018, a study revealed that luxury fashion was the fastest-growing retail sector of that year. LV had a lot of responsibility from then onwards to control their impact on the environment. They’ve also been tracking their carbon footprint since 2004.
Some strides have been present over the years. Their shopping bags have been 100% recyclable since 2012, perfume bottles are refillable, and 96% of materials used for main events/installations in 2019 were recycled, according to Impakter.
However, their main sources of greenhouse gases naturally come from production. Impakter notes that they still don’t have a concrete policy within these areas to mitigate their climate impact.
The site deems their approach to sustainability as greenwashing, but not facing their consumption head on.
On sustainability, the LVMH group express that it is a journey that takes a long term commitment and humility.
Some pillars they’ve commited to include renewable energy in production, green architecture and responsible sourcing (the plan is 100% responsibly sourced raw materials by 2025, and 0% single-use plastic by 2030).
However, production is the real crux of the matter according to the protestors, and it’s not just on LV, but all of us.
Picture: Valerio Mezzanotti