How does the luxury retail industry support sustainability?

TDF_Visual Merchandising Storytelling Manufacturing Specialist_How does the luxury retail industry support sustainability

Awareness surrounding sustainability has been a hot topic now for the last couple of years. We have seen numerous brands pledge to “do better” when it comes to helping reduce their carbon footprint. The luxury retail industry, in particular, has been making an effort to try and incorporate more sustainable raw materials, while still maintaining the high-quality consumers are used to. The current pandemic has also made people start to think deeper about the environment. Are these companies doing enough to support the movement? There are plans in motion for more sustainability to and maximize the effectiveness of the circular economy.

A recent announcement of a partnership between Google and WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) Sweden is to help the fashion industry to track their sustainability and source raw materials. Let’s find out what other luxury retail industries have done the past two years about sustainable development and how the visual merchandising industry can contribute to sustainability.

Sustainable Raw Materials for Production

TDF_Visual Merchandising Storytelling Manufacturing Specialist_How does the luxury retail industry support sustainability

Photo: “Pinatex is a by-product of the pineapple harvest.” – Pinatex®

Technology advancements gave the luxury industry more options for choosing sustainable materials. In 2018, luxury brands including Gucci, Versace, Armani, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein decided to abandon the use of animal fur and adopt synthetic leather in their design.


The decision to forgo real fur helps these companies to make a wider-sustainability plan. Today, people are more aware, and making big moves like eliminating animal fur increases consumer confidence in their brands. For example, Dolce and Gabbana used tree bark leather instead of animal leather for platform shoes and bags. At the same time, Hugo Boss adopted Pinatex®, which is pineapple industry waste, for their new sneakers. These new sustainable raw materials provide the luxury retail industry with better options to help to reduce their environmental impact and boost the “Green” image for the luxury brands.

Based on the data from Statista, which was released in 2018, 42% of millennial luxury goods consumers said that they would choose to buy products from a brand with ethical and sustainable awareness. Being the target customers of luxury brands, it is probably time for these companies to take notice. 

Should the luxury brands who are continuing to turn a blind eye to the sustainability movement make a change? Will it push customers away? The answer is yes. Sustainable raw materials are the answer. These brands need to prove to their consumers they are taking their social responsibility seriously.

While eliminating animal fur and leather is a big step in the right direction, waste is another issue in the luxury retail industry. 10% of the world’s carbon emissions come from deadstock fabric and stock. Therefore, some young designers from the luxury industry reuse deadstock fabric and upcycle it into luxury products.

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up and LVMH Prize finalist, Bode, used antique materials and patterns to create garments. Her approach helped decrease the amount of deadstock manufactured during the production process. She did not follow the current ‘take-make-waste’ extractive industrial model; instead, she adopted a circular economy system to produce garments.

TDF_Visual Merchandising Visual Manufacturing_Storytelling Specialist_ sustainable raw materials

Unlike young luxury brands, historic luxury brands mixed textile waste with other disposals to create new types of fabric. Gucci, Prada, and Burberry chose to use ECONYL®, an eco-friendly material, for their outerwear and garments. According to ECONYL®, it is a 100% recycled nylon derived from fishing nets, textile waste, and a thick pile fabric used for carpets and upholstery. Burberry introduced an ECONYL® capsule to build a green collection for consumers and reduce their negative impact on the planet. We can say with confidence that some luxury brands are changing the way they procure raw materials and are making an effort to reduce their impact on the environment.

Sustainable Packaging

TDF_Visual Merchandising Visual Storytelling Specialist_ luxury retail merchandising displays

Although the luxury industry keeps reviewing and inventing new and sustainable raw materials, non-recyclable plastic packaging is another “migraine” for the luxury retail industry. A report in 2018 by Zero Waste Week said more than 120 million non-recyclable cosmetic packagings were created by the cosmetic and beauty industry. Packaging numerous products for delivery and retail stores are making luxury brands set targets and implementing different means to eliminate the waste of packaging. 

Luxury conglomerates took initiatives to set various goals and create sustainable plans. In 2018, LVMH established a set of sustainable goals, which included sourcing 30% of its energy from renewable sources and reducing carbon emissions by 25% throughout the company by 2020. The new plan also included reducing the impact of packaging on perfumes and cosmetics, champagne, and Hennessy by 10%.

Back in 2010, LVMH Group had already set up a CEDRE recycling platform to handle the packaging waste from cosmetics and perfumes. However, it still depends on the consumers to return the recyclable packaging to retailers.

Another luxury retail industry giant, Kering, is committed to reducing 40% of its environmental impact by 2025.

Before that, they have already achieved a 14% cut from 2015 to 2018. Gucci, who is under Kering, is using a shopping bag that is FSC certified and made of 100% recyclable material. Such a move encourages different innovation, and more environmentally-friendly packaging is appearing in the luxury market.

We know recycling is not the end all be all solution to protect the environment. Other fashion brands are investing in eco-friendly packaging as an alternative to single-use plastic. For example, Stella McCartney, the vegan fashion designer, switched to TIPA’s compostable plastic packaging solution in 2017. These new bags are ‘home compostable,’ meaning consumers can depose it in their private gardens and reduce waste management fees. Maggie Marily, a New Zealand fashion brand, also chooses ComPlast’s cassava-based compostable packaging for its garments since it requires less education for consumers. We can see different fashion brands are using new innovative ways to reduce their environmental impact.

In-Store Sustainability

Luxury retail merchandising displays are still a vital part of the retail industry. Unfortunately, too often, the sustainability of visual merchandising is overlooked. The TDF believes that reducing the carbon emission of visual merchandising will be expected. For example, Stella McCartney’s flagship store in London uses biodegradable mannequins made from 72% sugarcane bioplastic and hidden ventilation systems. The seamless and sustainable operation helps to reduce the daily carbon emission of the store. Other brands, like the Ganni Stores in Copenhagen and Stockholm, also feature a green strategy. They use recycled plastics for displays, upcycled decorations, and adopted renewable energy iAt TDF-Asia, we provide luxury retail merchandising displays using sustainable, eco-friendly materials. In just FIVE easy steps, we can create flexible visual merchandising solutions with eco-friendly packaging or other sustainable materials.

Before shipping our final products to global stores, we ensure they pass our strict quality standards (ISTA) with a drop test and vibration test to guarantee a flawless condition. For more details on how we create luxury retail merchandising window displays, please do not hesitate to contact our project management team at or give us a call at +852 2116 9583.

Other Window Displays

We gather the latest Visual Merchandising news and share our thoughts about the VM industry. These are exciting display examples

We gather the latest Visual Merchandising news and share our thoughts about the VM industry. These are exciting display examples

We gather the latest Visual Merchandising news and share our thoughts about the VM industry. These are exciting display examples

We gather the latest Visual Merchandising news and share our thoughts about the VM industry. These are exciting display examples

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