Louis Vuitton is one of the world’s most recognised luxury fashion brands, thanks to its distinctive monogrammed accessories and clothing. But with a hot new artistic director on board, has the 164-year-old French fashion house updated its values for the 21st century? We ask, how ethical is Louis Vuitton?
The recent appointment of Virgil Abloh as Louis Vuitton artistic director of menswear, shook up the fashion industry. The American designer/DJ/stylist was originally known for being Kanye West’s creative director. He has since made waves with his luxury streetwear label, Off-White – worn by the likes of Jay-Z, ASAP Rocky, Beyonce and Rihanna.
Abloh’s first show for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week in June incorporated elements of streetwear and redefined the very meaning of luxury.
While the designer’s appointment can be seen as democratising luxury fashion and bringing youth culture to an elite brand, is the house of Louis Vuitton also addressing ethical and sustainable fashion concerns of the younger generations?
Environment: Not Good Enough
Louis Vuitton is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, which aims to transform cotton production by reducing its environmental impact and improving livelihoods and economic development in producing areas. Louis Vuitton’s parent company, LVMH, has also set a target to reduce carbon emissions generated from its own operations by 25% as part of its efforts on climate. However it has no set emissions reduction target covering any of its supply chain and shows no evidence of minimising textile waste or reducing potent chemicals.
Labour: Not Good Enough
The brand does monitor health and safety issues through its LVMH Code of Conduct and Suppliers Code of Conduct, but it still sources the final stage of its production from countries with extreme risks of labour abuse, and does not mention the payment of a living wage to its workers abroad. Moreover, Louis Vuitton does not disclose the names and addresses of its suppliers.
Animal Welfare: Very Poor
Louis Vuitton is rated Very Poor because of its use of fur, leather, wool, exotic animal skin, hair, as well as angora. However, the brand has said that it is working on other steps such as raising the share of leather goods sourced from strictly monitored tanneries by 2020.