What LVMH’s New Animal Products Charter Means For Shoe Manufacturing

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a new charter on sourcing animal products, including fur and leather. It is the latest in a line of the biggest names in luxury fashion to make bold strides toward more sustainable practices.

The plan was unveiled at the French conglomerate’s “Future Life” event at Paris Fashion Week, where Stella McCartney kicked off her new role as special adviser on sustainability to CEO Bernard Arnault with a conversation about forthcoming green initiatives. McCartney had inked a deal with LVMH in July after leaving rival group Kering.

While McCartney is a vegan and her business uses no leather, skin, fur or feathers in its products, LVMH is home to more than a dozen fashion and leather goods brands — including Louis Vuitton, Celine, Givenchy, Berluti and Dior — that employ these materials extensively.

According to the new charter, by 2025, LVMH promises to have full traceability for animal products, work only with suppliers that meet strict animal welfare standards and reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain for materials such as fur and leather. The plan builds on standards laid out by LVMH in February for more responsible sourcing of crocodile leather, with the stated goals of helping to preserve the species and respect the local communities in which the crocodile farms are based, improve working conditions, support animal welfare and protect the environment.

At the event, according to WWD, McCartney emphasized that while responsible sourcing is a challenge, it’s also a major opportunity to make a difference.

“I’m not going to pretend that what I do is easy,” she said. “If it was easy, I think more people would be doing it. But I personally don’t see it as a constraint. I see it as a huge inspiration. You know, we’re having this conversation in a week of climate crisis and the entire world is talking about this, and people are practicing this in their lives. So they shouldn’t they be able to practice it in their place of work?”

The footwear industry accounts for more than half of the world’s overall demand for leather, so the supply chains behind LVMH-made shoes will undoubtedly be affected by the new charter. According to sourcing experts, actions like these from powerful fashion corporations can have ripple effects on the rest of the industry.

Throughout the fashion industry, the need for more responsible leather sourcing has come to the fore in recent weeks in light of the current deforestation crisis in the Amazon. As farmers have cleared large swaths of forest to make room for farmland and ranchland to meet demand for cattle products, there’s been a sharp rise in deliberate fires, images of which began circulating widely on social media in late August.

In the wake of such news, corporations including H&M and VF Corp announced temporary bans on Brazilian leather — moves that sent “a huge shockwave through the Brazilian leather sector and really, I think, caught everyone’s attention,” Simon Hall, senior manager of the Tropical Forests and Agriculture project at the National Wildlife Federation, told FN. Like other sourcing experts, he argued that major fashion companies can have a significant positive impact on a region by investing in, and demanding, more responsible practices throughout their supply chains. LVMH, for its part, donated 10 million euros ($11 million) to help fight the fires.

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