The Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion launched in 2014 as part of the five year partnership between Kering and London College of Fashion, UAL. Each year, one of Kering's luxury fashion brands will set a brief for final year BA and MA students, which highlight the current industry pressures and challenges.
The Kering Award allows students the opportunity to gain feedback and coaching from a variety of industry partners, and present to some of the most influential names in sustainable luxury. The Award is open to students from all disciplines within the college, and requires students to provide innovative, creative and achievable solutions to the project brief. To date the brands involved have been Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Pomellato and Gucci.
The awards ceremony took place at Kering Headquaters in London on December 2, where students were joined by Renee Tirado, Global head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Gucci, Benjamino Marini, Director of Communications at Gucci, Rossella Ravagli, Head of Sustainability at Gucci, Eva von Alvenslebe, Head of Sustainability Strategy at Kering Group and Dilys Williams from Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
From left to right: Dilys Williams, Eva von Alvensleben, Rossella Ravagli, Renee Tirado and Benjamino Marini
I’d be really interested from a diversity perspective what opportunities you see for the future as a brand like Gucci?
Renee Tirado – I think the biggest opportunities are that we have such an appetite for it and we are foundationally so set. The fact that we hold strong diversity as an organisation that’s already existing, I don’t think anything is not possible at this point now with Gucci. I think it’s a matter of scaling it and doing it thoughtfully because Gucci is a really big brand but actually as an organisation were not a huge company. How do we do it in a way that is impactful that isn’t necessarily leaving anybody behind but still serves at the bottom line? So with respect to diversity, quality and inclusion what I want to say that Gucci has always been at the forefront of this. If you look in the last 5 years, especially with Alessandro’s message around self-expression, what he’s done with the merging of the lines, gender fluidity, I think we have always been ahead of it in a lot of ways.
In terms of communications, how do Gucci use social media to play into a sustainability narrative, or change the way that consumers think about sustainability?
Beniamino Marini – I think by really focusing on the messages that the company want to convey. It’s very difficult to battle this topic on social media because whatever you do, you’re exposed to criticism. I can decide tomorrow that I want to declare in becoming plastic free but then there is always plastic somewhere hidden in the building. So I think it’s really important to acknowledge that in every message you put out there, there are limits to what one can do, even on a personal level. I’m sure you all experience these dilemmas every day so I think as a brand it’s important to make people relate to these dilemmas in their everyday lives, meaning we cannot be perfect from tomorrow.
It’s a slow process and we need to make our followers understand that the company is made of people that face the same dilemmas as you.
Eva von Alvensleben - The most difficult thing about tackling the entire prospect of sustainability within fashion is that there is no copy and paste button here. Nobody has ever done this before so there is no structure, no certificates and no do’s and dont’s. We’re starting from the beginning to try and work out where we are. With Kering we have a network of around 100 people all dedicated to working on sustainability across all fields and that’s something we’re trying to share by asking people ‘What are you doing? What’s working? What doesn’t work?’
We have to work together on this. As Dilys explained, it is such a challenge that even if everybody wants to act and has the same vision, there is no clear and obvious way sometimes.
Dilys Williams – As we were walking along the road just now, we saw people protesting and talking about how the climate is killing children. We really are starting to see a huge shift in understanding what we’re doing as human beings. This way of businesses and citizens coming together, we shouldn’t be labelled as consumers, and instead we should be labelled as contributors.
Together with Kering, we really are trying to ensure that we have the voices and the contributions from people from lots of geographical and cultural perspectives to help us to move forward.