This Is How Sustainable Luxury Is Helping the Planet — And Letting Millennials In on the Action

Younger shoppers are more credit-averse and budget conscious than their predecessors, making fast fashion an appealing option. But these same consumers are also increasingly interested in sustainable products that last, even if they typically cost more.

One unlikely solution: luxury goods.

A new trend for renting and reselling luxury pieces is making high-end goods an option for younger consumers. Robert Lockyer, CEO of luxury and sustainable packing company Delta Global, said he believes that by prioritizing quality over upfront costs, shoppers will ultimately get more value for their money and reduce environmental impact.

Why is it important for consumers to invest in items they will wear for years and items they plan to resell or recycle?

Robert Lockyer: “Fashion needs to revolve and regenerate in style to ensure our economy keeps rolling. It’s not about stopping your spending; it’s about being smarter with it. While there is the option to invest in a limited wardrobe of high-quality clothes that you truly love wearing and continue to wear time and again, there may always come a time where you become tired with your style and want to refresh it. This is where reselling and renting items comes in. It creates a circular succession, be it handing down to family and friends for them to enjoy or making money from your old purchases to re-invest into new ones.”

Delta Global luxury packaging Coach
By packing items in an aesthetically pleasing and high quality box, brands and retailers can encourage customers to keep packaging for future reuse.
CREDIT: Delta Global

How does packaging play a role in this reusable economy?

RL: “The best packaging ideas contribute to the reusable economy by offering durability and product protection, keeping the value in the goods upon re-sale or re-gifting. Retailers should create packaging that customers want to display inside their homes, rather than throw into the bin after being opened. Through innovative design and collapsibility, high quality structures made from luxurious materials can encourage consumers to keep the packaging for storage and display, to be reused when needed. Although there may be a higher purchase price initially, repeated use would mean a reduction in cost down the line for e-commerce retailers, disposal costs for the wider economy and packaging production overall, such as where brands are offering take-back schemes.”

What would you say to those concerned about the carbon footprint and emissions associated with shipping returns and exchanges? 

RL: “Retailers have become more customer responsive, but by improving the ‘returnability’ phase of purchasing, they have escalated the issue of carbon emissions. Not only is extra shipping costly for the business, it also costs the environment. But companies can contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions during the development and delivery of a product.”

Ted Baker small item packaging from Delta Global
By making packaging space efficient, companies can fit more items into each shipping container. That reduces the amount of containers and carriers needed.
CREDIT: Delta Global

And that should be communicated to the customer?

RL: “Yes. The effects of excessive shipping of a singular item should be communicated to the customer. Research has found that same-day delivery has the highest carbon footprint, whereas next-day has the lowest because the carrier has more time to work efficiently; the confined timing of same-day gives the retailer less time to fill the delivery vehicle to full capacity. Brands could choose to limit those delivery services and be transparent about their choice to do so with customers. Higher quality packaging can also lessen one of the common reasons for returns: damages during transit. Delta Global offers easy-to-assemble, flat-pack solutions that ensure less transportation overall as we can have much more storage space within vehicles and overseas shipping vessels. We also offer manufacturing facilities across the world, and we’ve set up storage facilities closer to the end user to minimize multiple ships throughout the supply chain.”

Some consumers find luxury items unattainable due to price. How could brands appeal to younger consumers who lack large incomes but want to participate?

RL: “You can list your brand under second-life sites dedicated to bringing luxury to younger, less wealthy consumers such as Village Luxe, The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective. Through repeatedly renting and reselling items, people may make higher returns on their original investments. There are differing stages of ‘luxury;’ it’s not necessarily driven by price. Quality can be luxury and worth considering when investing in statement pieces that work with different outfits. And last, having aspirational thoughts and desires can also be a good thing. Everyone should be able to reward themselves where possible and set themselves some personal goals.”

Watch the video below to see how digitally native brand Allbirds is succeeding:

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