After two years of development Gucci introduces Demetra, a revolutionary sustainable material that promises to be available throughout the industry in 2022.
“In our 100th anniversary year, Demetra is a new category of material that encapsulates Gucci’s quality and aesthetic standards with our desire to innovate, leveraging our traditional skills and know-how to create for an evolving future. Demetra offers our industry an easily scalable, alternative choice and a more sustainable material that also answers the needs of animal-free solutions.” said Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci.
The brand states that their new groundbreaking material “combines quality, softness and durability”. This leather alternative is composed of 77 percent plant-based raw materials and it uses Gucci’s own leather tanning procedures, offering customers a similar leather experience in terms of aesthetics, feel, and quality. They are also prepared to harness all Demetra scraps produced during the manufacturing process, as they will be upcycled and reused.
The luxury brand expects to incorporate the material into shoes, bags, accessories, and apparel but for now the release of Demetra is marked with their first products made with it, three sneaker models: Basket, New Ace and Rhyton.
“Luxury and sustainability are one and the same,” reads an opening statement by François-Henri Pinault, the owner & CEO of Kering (the luxury group that owns Gucci, among other brands) in the sustainability section of the company’s website. In fact, the brand has a long history focusing on sustainability and ecological practices in the luxury segment. It was the first luxury brand to ban fur from all their collections, which made it a pacesetter in luxury sustainability.
Other attempts to sustainability by the brand include eyewear made from environmentally-friendly materials based on castor-oil seeds in 2011, a sustainable and biodegradable plastic sandals collection launched in 2012, and creating a 100% traceable handbag collection in partnership with sustainability advocate Livia Firth in 2013.
In 2018, Gucci Equilibrium was launched to aim for more transparency and sustainability. The website reunites information for all of their efforts to be a more eco-friendly brand. They allow members of staff to dedicate one percent of their working time to volunteering in local communities and it is part of their 10 year sustainability plan.
Traditional customer groups for luxury brands (baby boomers and Gen Xers) don’t really focus on sustainability, but younger generations are much more concerned with the ecological impact of what they consume. This may pose a challenge to many brands but others are finding the way to look at sustainability as an opportunity to create extreme value and add appeal to their brands. Some luxury brands that also jumped into the challenge and now stand out for their sustainability actions include Prada, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney.
In the spirit of open innovation, and acknowledging the importance of joining efforts to help our planet we can expect Gucci to not hold on to the exclusivity of this new leather alternative, and make it available to other brands in the fashion industry by 2022.