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  • Aude Villebrun

Circularity 101

I don't know if you have seen or even read it, but the Kering group released earlier this week their Circularity Strategy in document called "Coming Full Circle".

The document highlights the different steps and actions the group has taken so far as they pursue this massive journey - a totally new mindset as they explain:

A circular economy provides the opportunity not only to move towards a positive impact on resources, but also to innovate in order to better serve our customers and to further advance our sustainability goals. This is more than a strategy, this is a whole new mindset that reinforces what defines us: creativity, exceptional know-how, high quality.

- Kering's 2021 Circularity Ambition Manifesto


I wanted to write about it, not so much about "what" - the content itself, that is quite self-explanatory - but about the "how" - i.e. the way they have made a tremendous effort to summarize and structure their approach. Making it clear, easy to read, full of tangible examples and at the same time very sharp show a genuine effort for transparency and a willingness to share it with a wider audience. Last but not least, the tone of voice chosen is simple, honest and factual. I particularly loved the sentence "We cannot do this alone, but we will lead by example" (Source: Kering's report, page 25).


That tone of voice is aligned with Marie-Claire Daveu's (Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer, Kering) comment on the group's website: “At Kering we already take our approach to circularity very seriously, along with our responsibility to accelerate change. But we know there is more work to be done. [...] Changing the system is energizing, too. We are identifying bold opportunities for a fresh generation of businesses to integrate a culture of regeneration, repair and real change”.


A structured document like this also show the size of ambition : whilst actions can still be small or big, they are clearly part of a bigger, thought-through strategy. Now everything is contributing to that same end-goal, and they will use every possible field of action to reach it : reducing waste in stores, changing the business model to integrate resale and repair, using the right materials, increasing durability, improving livelihoods of the people working the land of the eco-systems too, working collectively with the industry through participative projects, embracing research, technology and innovation, or reducing energy... Everything is covered.


All of the above will be tracked through 5 key indicators:

- zero product destruction;

- 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022;

- zero single-use plastics by 2025;

- 100 per cent of raw materials to comply with the Kering Standards by 2025;

- zero microfibre leakage by 2030.


Interestingly enough, within that plan, every brand / Maison has a role to play. Not everyone does everything and we know, as we read the document, that nothing will be perfect overnight, but every brand will contribute and there will be no brand left behind or exempt. As an example, moving away from seasons and building long-term relevance will also be MCQ's mission - and the brand relies on blockchain technology to do that (page 9).


The durability, especially in Eyewear, is also a tricky question. Beyond making sure that as a brand/company you use the best materials, how do you ensure that people will keep wearing the products after one or two seasons? Kering explains that they aim at building "a vestiaire that transcends seasons and fashions". Iconic pieces or nothing.


Pomellato, through their Kintsugi collection, will not only repair broken gems and stones, but will re-create beauty and unique pieces of jewelry via that Japanese technique. It's, in a way, what Hermes' Petit H was created for 15 years ago.

Page 14 onwards, the group details how they are going to capture the so-valuable second-hand market : in the US alone, the number of second-hand pieces in people’s wardrobes is predicted to grow from 21 per cent in 2021 to 27 per cent in just two years’ time, with the value of the second-hand sector forecast to be worth more than $60 billion by 2025 (Source: page 14). And of course, their recent investment in Vestiaire Collective will support their "re-commerce" ambition and help them control their brands' identity.

"Our consumer survey Capturing the Impacts of Consumer Use and Product End of Life in Luxury has shown that, on average, some 65 per cent of luxury products are given to a friend, resold or donated to charity. It shows that a significant proportion are already being given a “second life”.

The report ends how it started, with the "Empowering Imagination" motto, which is both optimistic and welcoming. To me, a very differentiating way to approach this. It is not just about the struggle, it is about hope and finding solutions - a clear tone of voice and common thread that you can feel across the entire document.


I would now be curious to see how that strategy reflects into the company's hiring strategy, capability strategy and overall organization. Building a strategy is one thing but embedding it and shaping a new mindset throughout a 38,000-employee company is another thing. How do you make sure every single person breathes and thinks "Coming Full Circle"? How do you encourage employees to find solutions and contribute to change? How do you make sure those are heard?


Additional reading & sources:

https://www.kering.com/en/sustainability/innovating-for-tomorrow/circularity-ambition/

https://fr.fashionnetwork.com/news/mcq-un-grand-levier-de-croissance-pour-mcqueen,281130.html

https://www.kering.com/fr/actualites/fort-rebond-du-chiffre-daffaires-au-premier-trimestre-2021


The report here for download :

KERING CIRCULARITY AMBITION
.pdf
Download PDF • 6.75MB

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