For the luxury market, the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 represented a turning point in the spending habits of consumers. Following the shocking disaster, customers began to ask questions about where their products were made and their ethical and sustainable credentials. Leading this new wave of conscious consumerism has been Livia Firth – Oxfam Global Ambassador, founder of Eco-Age and wife of actor Colin Firth – a brand consultancy helping luxury labels add value to their products by becoming more sustainably minded. So far Eco-Age have worked on a number of prestigious projects with well-known names such as jewellery brand Chopard, collaborating to create the Palme Verte collection – Chopard’s first diffusion line made with 18-carat Fairmined gold bought from artisanal and small-scale miners certified under the Fairmined standard.
"Sustainable fashion is about buying things we care about, instead of on impulse"
Earlier in 2015, Eco-Age also collaborated with fashion house Erdem to create a Green Carpet Collection made from reused, surplus or sustainably certified materials, and Livia and her husband both continue to promote sustainable fashion by sporting it themselves at red-carpet events, as well as encouraging celebrity friends to do the same. For Firth, the luxury market plays a particularly key role in the growth of sustainable fashion. “The luxury market can and is leading the way, showing examples of how to work at supply chain level,” she explains. “What the Kering Group has achieved is particularly impressive – my hat goes off to CEO Mr [François-Henri] Pinault every day. The fact that Kering recently published its environmental profit-and-loss report is groundbreaking.”
"The problem is today we buy at an ever faster pace because fashion is so cheap"
On top of the environmental and ethical benefits, Firth believes that buying sustainably fits well with the luxury ethos, which often involves buying fewer, top-quality items that are well-made. “The problem is that today we buy at an ever faster face because fashion is so cheap,” says Firth. “So we don’t think twice about buying something which we then discard just as quickly. Instead, sustainable fashion is about buying things we care about, instead of on impulse.” Eco-Age's ‘30 Wears’ campaign reflects this philosophy, encouraging fashion lovers to only purchase pieces they will want to wear at least 30 times. “There is a beautiful concept that Amanda Harlech (muse to Karl Lagerfeld) uses called ‘fashion memory’,” explains Firth. “It means that everything we buy and have in our wardrobes should have a memory of when we bought it and why, of when we wore it for the first time – was it that first kiss? Or when I danced all night at that beautiful party?” With a wardrobe full of treasured purchases, Firth believes we can curate a personal fashion history – telling the individual story of the person that wore the garments and the adventures they enjoyed in them.