Luxury bags and sustainability: are they really incompatible?

Whether it's because of ingrained preconceptions or a lack of accurate information, many people think that luxury leather goods are not sustainable. However, when you fall in love with a Chanel 2.55or a Lady Dior, it is usually for life. This argument seems a bit flimsy to you? Well, it actually isn't! In this article, we explain why sustainable luxury is more than just a concept. Let us debunk some common misconceptions about luxury handbags and highlight some of the sustainable projects carried out by the major Fashion Houses!

4 misconceptions about luxury and sustainability

The world of luxury leather goods often suffers from hasty conclusions and prejudices about its incompatibility with the circular economy.

Let's review 4 preconceived ideas:

1) "Luxury leather goods lovers only want items that are new"

We often confuse the love for luxury bags with the attraction for new things. Yet, the most valuable leather goods accessories are not always the most recent ones! The most iconic bags from Haute Couture Houses, and therefore the most sought-after, have increased in value over time and demand. Many luxury handbag enthusiasts will therefore prefer a very trendy second-hand bag to a new bag that is not as popular.
Prada Diagram

2) "The way luxury bags are made cannot fit in with an eco-responsible vision".

The manufacture of luxury bags is frequently criticized: the precious materials that require a lot of resources to produce and the waste of unused fabrics are especially seen as incompatible with an environmentally-friendly vision. However, the number of initiatives aimed at improving all these aspects is increasing, in a real effort to evolve, as we will see in the rest of this article! The small number of models designed (since luxury handbags have a long lifespan related to their quality) also largely offsets these issues. Unlike the fast fashion industry where each piece is produced in large and steady volumes, luxury leather goods companies adjust the production of each of their handbags to demand. Whether it be a limited edition or a bag that is more successful in a specific region of the world, the number of models is scalable: this helps create a more ethical consumption.

3) "High prices are not compatible with sustainable values".

We often tend to associate ecologically responsible values with restraint and moderation, and thus dismiss the most expensive bags as incompatible with a sustainable lifestyle. Yet, in reality, this couldn't be further from the truth! By choosing quality over quantity, by promoting traditional craftsmanship and savoir-faire, and by creating solid handbags that last over time, luxury leather goods companies are largely committed to sustainability and the fight against planned obsolescence.
Saint Laurent handbags

4) "The luxury world is conservative and never questions itself".

While luxury and tradition do indeed go hand in hand, this does not mean that Haute Couture Houses are hostile to change and reassessment, quite the contrary. Whether by facilitating the resale of second-hand bags from their collections or opting for more ethical practices in their workshops, the industry leaders are gradually breaking away from outdated habits. If most of the artistic directors are concerned by the environmental cause, it is also a question of adapting to a generation that wishes to buy responsibly without having to compromise their values.

And if you still think that the top designers are unwilling to move towards more modern practices, you will be surprised by the following paragraph!

3 projects that show that luxury and sustainable development go hand in hand

For those who still need convincing, Vintega has listed 3 projects launched by famous Houses, that do good for the planet as well as for the hearts of luxury leather goods enthusiasts!

1) Hermès "petit h" workshops

Yet more leather goods and bags created from materials that weren’t used in the making of Hermès handbags? Yes please! In the Hermès "petit h" workshops, fabric scraps that were previously left out as well as slightly scratched leather pieces can still fulfill their destiny. Jewelry, vases, small decorative objects and colorful bags are designed from these materials, ensuring that nothing gets thrown away!

2) Fendi Basket bag

First spotted at Fendi's Spring 2021 fashion show, this handbag is made entirely of recycled PVC plastic. With its tote bag format and its bright colors, it looks straight out of the 80s. It helps you make a difference for the planet, and a daring pick for your look! Keep an eye on Vintega's online store: this bag could soon be available in a second-hand version!

3) The Gucci Equilibrium initiative

The House of Gucci is truly committed to the environment and sustainability. In 2018, the company launched a website that is independent of its online store and is called Gucci Equilibrium. It is being used as a platform to highlight sustainable initiatives and actions in favor of the climate. A great way for Gucci to put its popularity to good use, in support of a major cause.
Gucci Marmont

This is not the first time Gucci has been involved in a project for the environment: in 2013, the House launched a "zero deforestation" handbag, sold with a passport that traces its entire production line.

Second-hand products: the ideal meeting point for luxury and sustainability

Second-hand bags are really THE best way to reconcile luxury and ethically-conscious consumption! The expansion of this market has made it possible to further embody the desire of leather goods companies – as well as that of luxury bag lovers – to improve. Many studies have been conducted on this subject, with clear results: when a product's lifespan is extended, its impact on the environment is reduced with each passing month. Another good reason to buy a second-hand bag and to take good care of it so that it lasts as long as possible.

From now on, you, second-hand bag aficionados, are helping to shape a new vision of luxury: flaunting your latest Vintega second-hand find or choosing a vintage bag over a new one, that's what sustainable awareness is all about!

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