Kering, the owner and managing company of various luxury retailers including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga has recently instituted internal guidelines against greenwashing initiatives. Responding to growing consumer interest, the corporate conglomerate has adopted sustainability-centric marketing. However, the concept of ‘greenwashing’, where companies exaggerate their product’s environmental soundness, can lead to legal and public relations issues.
The company’s guidelines apply to in-store products as well as products sold in the group’s brands’ online stores. Within the report published on the website, the company includes information about environmental and social issues, and details on labelling and advertising. The guide does not give details of mandatory information provided on product labels, packaging, or corporate communications.
There have been increasing accusations of greenwashing within the industry as well as criticism of inappropriate social media claims that threaten corporate and brand reputations.
Buzzwords such as “eco-friendly”, “environmentally-friendly” and “green” are included in advertising campaigns despite being generic and non-specific. Kering is avoiding describing its products as ‘carbon neutral’, but rather opting for reduced emission efforts with separate carbon offset programmes.
According to Apparel Insider, Kering upholds the policy amongst its brands that any sustainability claims have to be “true and relevant, clear and unambiguous, fair and without exaggeration, substantiated and verifiable, not over-using visual natural or nature-like elements, and presenting certifications properly.”
Kering takes the position that greenwashing is “a serious obstacle to achieving a truly sustainable transition in the fashion industry and in the wider world, as it prevents consumers from making informed purchasing decisions. Furthermore, it is also a form of unfair competition that can harm companies that communicate their sustainability efforts in a proportionate, measurable, and fair way.”