In the midst of a rainy New York Fashion Week, four exclusive fashion brands were greeted by "clean-up crews" challenging them to adopt forest friendly and toxic free policies. Activists decorated store windows with giant images of forest destruction and toxic pollution, and the invitation to be part of the solution. The brands visited had one thing in common (besides decades of setting trends), they all ranked at the bottom of a recent Greenpeace survey of environmental policies for the world's leading fashion houses.
The survey looked at whether or not these brands are responsibly sourcing leather and paper packing; two commodities that have been identified as drivers of deforestation. The survey also included criteria on the use of hazardous chemicals, an ongoing problem in textile manufacturing.
Of the 15 brands surveyed, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Hermès finished, 'in the black', meaning that they refused to take part in the survey, denying the public transparent information. What could they have to hide?
Despite the fact that conversations with Greenpeace mean that these brands are fully aware that the luxury paper packaging, office paper, and leather they use could be destroying the world's rainforests, they haven't even taken minimal precautions to avoid buying from controversial sources. Furthermore, they've put their heads in the sand when it comes to toxic pollution, despite being well aware that facilities used by the textile industry release hazardous and hormone-disrupting toxins into rivers around world.
Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Hermès need to follow the lead of brands like Valentino who have taken steps towards zero deforestation and toxic free policies.
My colleague Chiara Campione at Greenpeace Italy says it best: “Beautiful fashion does not need to cost the Earth.”
You can see the full ranking here and to make your voice heard, join the Fashion Duel at: www.thefashionduel.com
Kat Clark is a Media & Communications Officer at Greenpeace USA