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“Sustainability In Luxury Has Grown Beyond A Mere Level Of Awareness"
Caroline Scheufele, Artistic Director & Co-President, Chopard, the Swiss luxury watches and jewellery manufacturer, in an exclusive conversation with BW Businessworld’s Jyotsna Sharma, speaks about the impact of Covid-19 and upcoming trends in the sector. Excerpts
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Has sustainable luxury become an important aspect of focus in the last few years?
For me, true luxury comes only when you know the handprint of your supply chain. It is imperative to first and foremost respect the planet and humankind, as well as be responsible in the ways of using products in a world where everything happens very fast and people don’t always realise what they are buying. I think we should be more attentive to what we do.
It’s really time that everybody does what we can to save our planet. We have to be more conscious about what we do, how we do it and further increase awareness around it. Sustainablity is no more a choice but rather the need of the hour, and I am glad that most brands globally have realised the significance of going green. This change is not just seen in brands but also in consumer preference. Chopard’s commitment to only buy diamonds and gemstones through suppliers who comply with a rigorous set of guidelines on environmental, employment, and human rights factors, has been a challenging journey but the results are incredible. This is a journey, an evergreen initiative that garners new destinations along the way.
Each creation now comes with a story behind it, carefully relayed from the source to our designers, our employees and then to the client. As Creative Director and Co-President of Chopard, I am so proud to share these stories with our customers and know they will wear these creations with pride.
What inspired the Green Carpet collection and the Red Carpet 2020 collection Nature?
Within the Haute Joaillerie Red Carpet Collection which is launched every year in Cannes, there is a section that we call Green Carpet which comprises models made with 100 per cent ethical Fairmined-certified gold as well as responsibly sourced gemstones, whether diamonds, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines or black opals. Every year we try to extend the project and add a new stone to the collection, but we depend on the sustainability of the mines where we source our gems.
Since the 60th anniversary of the Cannes International Film Festival, Chopard’s Haute Joaillerie workshops have annually achieved the feat of composing a collection that includes as many creations as the year of the festival’s existence. This year, we have unveiled a range of 73 treasures. We have decided to celebrate the environment, along with its flora and fauna, by choosing ‘Nature’ as the main theme.
How has the pandemic hit the jewellery sector?
The miners are generally the most vulnerable group in the gold supply chain and Covid-19 poses many challenges to their already complex situation. Many miners have not been able to continue their activities due to lockdowns, prohibition of public gatherings and the closure of mining sites. And for the few who could continue their mining activities, the export of gold was made extremely difficult due to governmental restrictions. These communities are therefore in an extreme vulnerable position as no sales means also no income. Our partner, the Swiss Better Gold Association, has quickly put in place impactful actions to help the miners’ part of the Better Gold Initiative. They have been distributing food parcels to the most vulnerable miners (artisanal miners, the Barequeros, in Choco, Colombia) and paid the full salaries of about 500 employees of eight small mines in Peru and Colombia.
How has the consumer changed? Will the consumer demand change?
Sustainability has grown beyond a mere level of awareness, for both brands and consumers. Today’s consumers are very different, they are aware and conscious about the impact of products (of any kind), socially and ecologically. They want to be responsible citizens of the planet making informed purchase decisions.
With this growing fundamental shift of consumer preference towards sustainability, there is definitely a current demand change towards more ecoconscious offering, and this is expected to grow further. So as a company, we need to be equally responsible and that means being transparent about our business practices, ensuring we continually improve these practices over time. I am very proud of our ethical sourcing programme.
What trends will the sector see in the post Covid-19 world?
Conscious offering and eco-friendly narratives will be top priority for brands and designers. The pandemic has taught us the hard way on the importance of preserving nature, preventing a future climate catastrophe and spreading of diseases. The need to go digital is definitely at its all-time high. With the advent of technology and innovative during the pandemic, it is imperative to design virtual boutiques to welcome visitors to try and experience the product before their purchase decision. Innovation in creating consumer experience is and will be key. Transparency is key. Be it letting your buyers know of the materials sourced and manufacturing process, to practicing ethical process within the company. Today’s millennials and new-age consumers seek informative solutions for their valuables.