Sustainable Luxury: The Brand Evolution

When the question of sustainable and ethical purchasing is raised, it is often with regard to the fashion industry. In 2019, it was reported that the British public had spent a total of £61.2 billion on clothing alone, making the UK the world’s seventh largest exporter of clothing. It’s a grim statistic, made worse by the knowledge that fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to oil. Although the fashion industry (and fast fashion in particular) takes most of the heat, it is a problem that the retail sector as a whole has had to take steps to address in order to meet the growing demand for more environmentally friendly products. 

There can be no doubt that in recent years, sustainability has become a buzzword across many aspects of life, not least consumerism. Now more than ever, a growing number of shoppers are trying to buy in a more ethical way, from brands whose values align with their own. A recent IBM survey showed that 40% of shoppers fall into this category, the so-called ‘purpose-driven consumers’, who actively seek these more ethical brands out. Most encouraging, however, is the fact that 57% of those surveyed stated that they would be open to changing their current practises in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment. 

Above all else, it seems that the number one customer demand is transparency, with 73% of respondents stating that easy traceability of a product was important to them and a further 71% stating that they would be prepared to pay a premium for it. Here is where luxury brands have their natural advantage over high-street or fast brands. Overall, their products are investment pieces bought to last, and with more and more brands taking accountability for the way their products are sourced, there is a real, growing market for sustainable, luxury items. Often sustainable, ethical and vegan are used interchangeably, and while there is no doubt that plant-based goods are kinder to the planet, there is so much more to a brand earning the moniker ‘sustainable’. Whether that’s through minimising waste from the outset of production, having plastic free packaging or championing the rights of their workers to try and become more ethical, there’s been a lot of change in recent years. So which luxury brands are taking the right steps?


Marketed as the world’s first super premium vodka, Belvedere has long been championing an eco-friendly method. Their philosophy is to give back to the earth they harvest from and have made impressive strides in doing so by cutting their CO2 emissions by 42% in five years. A biomass capture facility site erected in 2021 will begin producing energy that is 100% renewable, further cutting their emissions by 80%, paving the way for Belvedere to be fully carbon neutral by 2022. Similarly, by 2022 there will be no single use plastic used whatsoever and they have made a long-term commitment to achieving 90% recyclability of all materials. 

These are, of course, not the only brands who are taking much-needed steps to minimise the retail industry’s impact on the environment. They are however among the forerunners and should be used by other brands as inspiration. These actions, when implemented correctly, show that even the smallest changes can have a huge impact and that sustainable and luxury can go hand in hand.

Find out more here:

Mercer Amsterdam


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mercer. (@merceramsterdam)

Mercer is a high-end trainer designer brand based in Amsterdam, whose biggest focus is working towards becoming an entirely sustainable supply chain and final product. Their silhouettes effortlessly combine the contemporary and classic, the sporty and chic. The designers at Mercer ‘want to show the consumer it can be cool, and it can be high-end, and it can be sustainable. All in one product”. Produced in family-owned factories in Portugal and Italy, ethics and sustainability are at the heart of what Mercer do.

Their most popular vegan range, The W3RD (pronounced Weird!) is made from pineapple leather – the first of its kind. Meanwhile, the W3RD Wine Pack also makes use of innovative technology that turns the waste products of winemaking (grape skins, stalks, seeds) to create a soft vegan ‘leather’ textile, too. On top of the obvious benefits of buying plant-based products, Mercer has initiated a recycling programme, in partnership with FastFeetGrinded., trying to make the shoe industry more circular and recycle as many of the 23.5 billion shoes produced each year as possible.

To learn more about Mercer and shop the range:

Stella McCartney



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Stella McCartney (@stellamccartney)

Long known for her animal rights and environmental activism, it is neither a surprise nor a secret that these values are at the heart of the Stella McCartney brand. A member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the use of eco-friendly and non-animal products is prioritised, such as recycled polyester and organic cotton. In addition to the waste reduction strategies that have been implemented at every level of the production and supply chain, the brand’s greenhouse gas emissions are measured and reported every year to ensure it or the fashion house can maintain accountability. 

Not only does the fashion house or Stella McCartney prioritise the environment but place an emphasis on social responsibility too. Each supplier is carefully selected and many have been working with the brand since its inception in 2001. With a focus on craftmanship and quality, the average number of workers in one of the company’s European facilities is only 37.

For more information, visit the website and discover the full collection:



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hæckels® (@haeckels)

Haeckles is a waste-free, organic, minimalist skincare brand based in Margate, on the southeast coast of England. Founded in 2012 by Dom Bridges, Haeckles signals a move away from the mass production and chemically derived ingredients that are staples of so many skincare brands on the market. Often, ‘natural’ products are seen to be less effective than their synthetic counterparts. This his is not the case here, with the company’s mindset being ‘natural has to be effective to be relevant’. With algae, seaweed and essential oils among some of their key ingredients, this brand does natural without compromising the luxurious scents and textures of our favourite skincare lines.

Every product in their ever-expanding range is free from silicone, nuts, gluten and soy as well as being cruelty free and vegan, with some having the added bonus of being free from alcohol, oil and water, too. A proud member of 1% for the Planet (an organisation which allows businesses to donate 1% of their annual profits to an environmental organisation), Haeckles has a coastal license which allows for their ingredients to be harvested ethically and in a sustainable way. All products are tested on the team, and the packaging is not only 100% recyclable but gorgeous too.

You can find out more and shop the range here:


The term ‘fragrance’ is an umbrella term that appears in so many of our favourite products, though the precise composition is often ambiguous. Not only can the chemical and synthetic ingredients be harmful to us, they have a huge impact on the environment that is rarely talked about. A study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that scented products such as perfumes and air fresheners emit the same amount of pollution as cars. Enter Ffern, an exclusive, organic and sustainable perfumery based in Somerset, England.

Ffern keeps things small, creating four seasonal scents every year, blending only one bottle for every name on their ledger which only opens when a space becomes available. Their blending process is traditional, each packaging element is 100% recyclable, and their oils and ingredients are extracted at source.

The waiting list to join their ledger is now open, and you can find out more here:

Futura Jewelry

Futura bill themselves as producers of the world’s most eco-friendly, hand crafted gold jewellery that comes from the only three certified Fairmined mines in the world, using processes that don’t require chemicals such as mercury or cyanide. By eliminating these toxic elements, the company’s harmful emissions are minimised. Each piece is handmade in New York by a team of true artisans and 100% traceable from the source. 

Best summed up by their ethos that ‘purity is the new luxury’, they have an impressive range of pieces. Most unique is the Legends collection, inspired by designs dating right back to ancient Egypt and Greece, resulting in a fresh and modern take on timeless classics.

Check out:

Aspinal of London


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Aspinal of London (@aspinaloflondon)

As part of their commitment to work towards a more sustainable future, Aspinal have put together an eco edit: the Sustainable Classics. Proving that you don’t have to be a vegan company to be environmentally friendly, the capsule uses upcycled materials from the Aspinal archives and sources leather from accredited tanneries. 

They have recently launched Bee Aspinal, their commitment to helping reduce the impact Aspinal’s production has on the environment. Having already removed 60% of single use plastic from their supply chain, they’ve pledged to remove the remaining 40% by next year, a impressive feat. Moreover, 95% of products are transported by sea or road, massively reducing their carbon footprint and are working to stem the decline in British bees, a cornerstone of many ecosystems.

You can shop the capsule here:


Bringing you artisanal homeware from around the globe, Collective Stories was founded by Pernille and Pierre after trip to Guatemala, which saw them take a backstrap weaving course. The course opened their eyes to just how skilled these craftsmen were  and inspired them to set up a company celebrating and sharing this talent. The products are handmade from raw, natural materials which are harvested as ethically as possible and made in small batches, prizing quality over quantity. Collective Stories also offers a bespoke service. Through working with their artisans, they are able to deliver you a custom product in 12 weeks, whether you want to design a new product entirely or just tweak an existing design.

In aiming to create only the essentials to last a lifetime, Collective Stories is the embodiment of slow living. The minimalist designs are simultaneously contemporary and timeless, ensuring that they will furnish your home for years to come. Offering an even more unique touch is the Happy Mistakes range which sells products with a slight aesthetic defect at a lower price, thus ensuring that the artist still gets paid for their time and skill.

You can explore it all here: