In a blog post on Thursday, Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz slammed PPR Group, the multinational conglomeration behind Gucci, Puma, Yves Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney, for “off-the-rack knock-off of existing thinking, repackaged as important business leadership.” Them’s fighting words. The cause of Swartz’s ire is PPR’s announcement of its multimillion-dollar sustainability initiative, which he berates for its surfeit of rhetoric, including terms like “groundbreaking,” “pioneering,” and “world’s first.” Buying carbon offsets in lieu of cutting emissions shouldn’t be a best practice, either, Swartz adds.
LIVE TOGETHER, DIE ALONE
The company’s biggest transgression, however, appears to be PPR’s lone-wolf stance. “You are more than welcome to join the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco-Working Group, which has been laboring the past several years to create a standard measurement system for the environmental impact of products,” Swartz writes. “Or, do connect to the Apparel Coalition, which counts as founding members the likes of Nordstrom and Gap and Adidas and Patagonia, who are trying to build consistent standards into how the apparel industry approaches sustainability.”
Sustainability in the fashion industry requires collaboration, says Swartz.
Simply put, Swartz says, sustainability in the fashion industry requires collaboration, not going solo. “If Walmart, with all their scale and power, believes that the best path to industrial reform requires other brands to collaborate rather than ‘go it alone,’ he adds, “then respectfully—connect to the existing efforts underway. Given your creativity, your brand building power, your star power—consider building on the existing coalition of the truly committed.”
We smell a feud brewing in three, two, one…