An unexpected Fashion Week trend? Carbon neutrality. American designer Gabriela Hearst’s New York show was carbon neutral, and now Gucci has announced that its upcoming Milan runway will be too. Gucci even went a step further, announcing that it plans have a fully carbon-neutral supply chain by the end of September.
Gucci has been on a green mission since 2017, when it announced it would be going fur-free. Since then, the luxury brand has announced a ten-year sustainability plan and rolled out a site dedicated to it. But this is the most ambitious step to date.
CEO Marco Bizzarri confirmed to the New York Times that Gucci will offset the travel emissions of the guests, models, and staff working its Milan event (1,900 people). What that means: Gucci’s show will still produce emissions, but the brand will purchase carbon credits that cancel them out. The money from the carbon credits will likely go to fund renewable-energy projects, to programs that protect the rain forest, or other green activities. Gucci isn’t the only brand to use carbon offsets in this manner — cult sneaker brand Allbirds went carbon neutral for 2019 by purchasing carbon offsets, and you can buy carbon offsets on Reformation’s website. But they are the biggest name to make this kind of promise.
Calculating a brand’s carbon footprint is a complicated and imperfect process, and figuring out how Gucci the brand can go carbon neutral is more complex than just the show. According to a statement from the brand, 90 percent of Gucci’s emissions come from its supply chain and raw material sources. Which makes sense, because fabrics will go through many different stages before going into a Gucci dress or top. Take cotton — someone has to pick the cotton, someone has to gin the cotton, someone has to spin the cotton, someone has to dye it, and then Alessandro Michele can work his magic. Gucci collected data from over 1,000 suppliers to make its Environmental Profit and Loss statement, which then informed how many carbon credits it would need to purchase to become carbon neutral.
“Look, the only way we can have zero emissions is to shut our business,” Bizzarri told the Times. “At the end of the day our company makes things, and we employ thousands of people with families and communities to do that. We need to think up the best ways of supporting our employees to do their jobs in the most sustainable way possible.” He also acknowledged that the current system wasn’t perfect, but that it was a start.