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FEATURE

October 17, 2016

By Candace Longfellow

WHY YOUR LOVE OF LUXURY FASHION IS MORE SUSTAINABLE THAN YOU THINK

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We all know the feeling. A brightly colored sign promoting an irresistible sale catches your eye. You see mannequins in a window sporting an uncanny reincarnation of the runway collection you’ve been coveting, and for a fraction of the price of the real thing. You enter the store excitedly and before you know it, you wake up from some sort of shopping blackout with arms full of fast fashion and a receipt total that somehow doesn’t equal your entire paycheck. You just engaged in binge shopping, which, when you think about it, is not unlike binge eating: what you’re consuming is of little value, and though it feels good in the moment, you’ll probably regret it later. Even worse, your giant haul of cheap goods will more than likely end up in the trash within seven wears.
While buying cheap, disposable fashion may seem like a money saver, investing in luxury is a much smarter way to shop. Prominent luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have the funds to allow them to control their supply chains and research new strategies for crafting their products more sustainably. In 2015, Gucci discontinued the GG Plus material coated in PVC, and switched to the more eco-friendly polyurethane-coated GG Supreme. Rather than using toxic chemicals, Louis Vuitton vegetable tans their rich, candy-colored cerise leathers, and Stella McCartney has long been praised for her use of vegetarian materials.
Companies do well to take steps toward sustainable practices as a younger generation continues to attain more purchasing power. A recent Nielsen study found that 3 out of 4 Millennials are willing to pay more for environmentally conscious items, and designer fashion is a part of that.
Luxury goods are hand-crafted by trained artisans who take pride in their work and the materials used are of the finest quality. When these items are treated with care, they can last a lifetime  (and if you’ve ever seen a vintage Chanel suit, you know that’s true). Because they can withstand decades of use, the cost per wear for high-quality items is on par with or less than the best deal you might find with cheaper goods. Factor in consignment, and you can use your earnings to rotate looks in and out of your closet as often as you might with fast fashion.
With that in mind, The RealReal has teamed up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help promote the transition to a Circular Economy — a more sustainable approach to consumption and manufacturing, which in part involves sharing and recycling products, allowing them to continue their contribution to our economy. It’s the guiding principle of luxury consignment. Why keep your old Céline bag in the back of your closet when you can sell it to someone who will love it and actually use it? Keeping these products in circulation honors the traditions of luxury craftsmanship, and allows a wider audience of consumers to enjoy them when they’re purchased in the secondary market. Everyone wins: less items in landfills, more stylish closets everywhere and artisan craftsmanship continues to thrive. 
Want to learn more about the Circular Economy? Read more about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation here.