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PARIS – French luxury group, which owns brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen, has issued new guidelines for making sustainability claims. The move is in response to heightened discussions of greenwashing and “criticism of inappropriate claims on social media,” which, Kering says, “has the potential to damage corporate and brand reputations. This is the first time a major fashion house has issued official guidelines on greenwashing.

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Kering says the use of broad, generic sustainability-related statements such as “eco-friendly”, “environmentally-friendly” or “green” should be avoided. The company notes that such vague claims are already forbidden in some countries.

The guidelines also say that claims of ‘climate neutrality’ should be avoided, and brands should instead mention emission reduction efforts and contribution to offset programs separately.

Kering also says that for a green claim to be fully responsible and trustworthy it must be, “true and relevant, clear and unambiguous, fair and without exaggeration, substantiated and verifiable, not over-using visual natural or nature-like elements, and putting forward certifications properly.”

Kering said in its new standards publication: “There has been growing awareness over the last years when it comes to sustainability. Increasingly, consumers around the world are looking for products and services with lower environmental and social impacts. This interest has directly led to a marked demand for “green” products and services.

“In response to this demand, companies have increased their green product and service offerings, however, at the same time, misleading environmental claims have also been on the rise. Known as “greenwashing”, this is a serious obstacle to achieving a truly sustainable transition in the fashion industry and in the wider world as it prevents consumers from making informed purchasing decisions. Furthermore, it is also a form of unfair competition that can harm companies that communicate their sustainability efforts in a proportionate, measurable and fair way.

“At Kering, the Group encourages its brands to communicate their sustainability efforts and results transparently and appropriately, with data underlying statements where possible.

“Applying these principles and definitions as a benchmark, the Kering Guidance for sustainability claims has been designed to provide support to its brands and to avoid any risk of potential greenwashing statements.”

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