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Why Luxury Fashion Sees the Sustainability Movement as an Opportunity

June 4, 2019, 6:28 PM UTC

The shift towards more sustainable fashion will be a boon for luxury brands, according to Anya Hindmarch, founder and managing director of her eponymous British handbag label.

“It’s much better to buy less, buy beautiful things, and wear them more,” said Hindmarch, speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London on Tuesday. “[Sustainability] totally fits with what we believe in.”

That push towards producing fewer and better products has come amid a shift in the fashion industry overall towards selling accessories that emphasize the craftsmanship and the personal “story” behind the product, Hindmarch said.

“There was a stage where luxury used to be very mass produced, honestly,” Hindmarch said, adding that the latest bag the company has produced took two years from design to completion. “The idea of that being fast fashion or mass produced is just so far from it.”

However, the shift to more sustainable fashion does come with a cost as supply chains are adjusted, she said: “There’s a real hit on your margin. There’s a period as we adjust to behaving in a more sensible, sustainable way.”

The push towards sustainability comes amid a period of transition for the company, with Hindmarch taking back the top job at the brand she founded after stepping down eight years ago to become creative director at the company. The brand’s ownership also changed this March, after Iran’s Maharandi family bought the majority stake from the Qatari’s royal family’s fund.

As managing director, Hindmarch has said her first step was to “turn around the business.”

The branding shift has not just happened at Anya Hindmarch. That push towards building a “story” around branding luxury items is emerging again across the high-end fashion business, said Kristina Blahnik, CEO of luxury shoe brand Manolo Blahnik, who appeared on the panel with Hindmarch.

“I think nowadays they don’t just want an object, they want something to talks to them,” said Blahnik. “For me I think the word ‘luxury’ is so over used it doesn’t mean anything anymore, same with ‘brand.'”

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