March 07, 2013
Green Gucci handbags. Courtesy of Gucci
Each handbag comes with a "passport" that provides the history of the product's supply chain going back to the ranch that produced the leather.
The line emerged out of concerns that leather in the fashion industry is contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, where roughly two-thirds of forest destruction is for cattle production. A 2009 Greenpeace campaign targeting the fashion industry and shoemakers led cattle producers to agree to introduce supply chain tracking and other safeguards to phase out deforestation. Accordingly, the new line uses only leather sourced from ranches that have been certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Only organic cotton is used in the handbags.
"This is a breakthrough moment for sustainable style," says Livia Firth, the fashion designer who launched the Green Carpet Challenge, an initiative that pushes the fashion industry to design more eco-friendly products.
The handbag is Gucci's first product under the initiative.
"Today more than ever before customers want to be associated with brands that are thoughtful and responsible," said Frida Giannini, Gucci's Creative Director, in a statement. "Through our sustainability, humanitarian and philanthropic actions we would like Gucci to not just be synonymous with Made in Italy, but also made with integrity. This project with the Green Carpet Challenge was conceived to show how we can be pro-active on environmental issues, by raising awareness and demonstrating action on the subject of deforestation."
Deforestation for cattle pasture in Brazil
In addition to fashion designer Firth, Gucci has worked in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a U.S.-based conservation group, to ensure the bags are deforestation-free.
NWF says the product line sends a strong signal to producers that there is a market for more sustainably-produced commodities.
"When it comes to deforestation in the Amazon, buyers hold a lot of power to make change," said Nathalie Walker of the National Wildlife Federations. "The pairing of our on-the-ground knowledge and research with the Green Carpet Challenge and Gucci is critical to prove the value of certification and persuade ranchers to take a different approach."
The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest but each year thousands of square miles are destroyed by loggers, miners, ranches, and farmers.