Chanel Mission 1.5°: How sustainability can transform a luxury brand by Valeria Boi

It is a well-known fact that fashion is one of the most polluting industries, being the second most polluting industry, but fortunately in the last few years sustainable fashion brands are becoming increasingly popular. Most of them are micro-business companies and because of this they have more flexibility in decision-making, they are often sourcing materials locally, they can introduce innovative materials without the bureaucracy of larger companies. Despite that, they have to face many challenges related to limited financial resources to invest, and it’s not easy to have high levels of expertise and resources like in the largest companies.

The established luxury fashion brands have billions to invest, they can have access to cutting-edge technologies, they have the tools to compete with the other brands.
Considering these favorable advantages and the will to reduce the environmental impact, why are aren’t all luxury brands sustainable?

Transforming a fashion business model to be truly sustainable is a complex and time-consuming process. This is because it often involves fundamental changes in the whole company and the brands want immediate profit results.
It’s a concept that the French Maison Chanel understood: the only way to reduce the impact of their business and have a positive impact on the climate, it’s a transformation inside and outside the company.

Chanel had initiated several sustainability programs in 2018, supporting also the targets set by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21), contributing by publishing their sustainable performances on Maisons website , showing that in 2022 their carbon footprint coming from production sites, distribution centers, boutiques and offices was 25,211, decreased by 40% compared to 2018.
To do this they have implemented important initiatives in their operations. In the first place they are opting for renewable electricity through LEED certification in their boutiques. Followed by the brands achievement accomplished at the end of 2022 which resulted in using 97% renewable electricity in their buildings, compared to 41% in 2018.

Their packaging is eco-designed, more than 90% of the polymethyl methacrylate as they introduce recycled plastic.
In their supply chain they decided to use raw materials and investing in regenerative agriculture programs to reduce emissions as seen with projects in Peru, Nepal, and Indonesia.
They extended their action to their website reducing the weight of webpages and driving a 16% reduction in emissions from 2021.
Regarding transportation, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions they decided to choose maritime transport and electric vehicles.

Chanel is aware that a real move towards sustainability is possible making a change within the company. Indeed they increased the number of employees in sustainable roles, and launched the Chanel Sustainability Academy, a learning program for all the employees.
Chanel Mission 1.5, the strategy of the renowned brand, aim to reduce the emissions and accelerate this process through projects and initiatives with a positive environmental and social impact.

The double action of Chanel Mission 1.5 is crucial to achieve its purpose of a low carbon future because it’s more effective: there is the strategy on the supply chain, the transportation, the digital presence; on the other side there is a cultural shift within the company. Transforming a business culture that prioritize sustainability is not easy, it means educating and changing the mindset of all the employees.

Chanel is working on increasing transparency in its supply chain by providing information about the origins of raw materials and production processes, doing so by publishing on the websites what they have achieved in these past years and what are their goals for the future. All these efforts to build a sustainable program enhances also the image and reputation of the luxury Maison, and can appeal to the consumers who prioritize sustainability.
In this positive scenario and with the efforts made, Chanel goals to get 100% shift to renewable electricity in their operations by 2025 and to decrease 50% of their footprint in 2030, have all the prerequisites to be realized.

Chanel Mission 1.5 is on the path of proving that a high fashion brand business, such as Chanel, can be changed from its roots with a strategic plan to protect the ecosystem, becoming more desirable, unique and luxurious.

Valeria Boi, London