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The Green Store & Building Challenge LVMH x Paris Good Fashion: Committing to a Greener Retail

By Diane Vanderschelden

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Retail |Exclusive

Loewe store, Avenue Montaigne, Paris. Credits: Vestiaire Collective

In a context where environmental awareness is gaining importance, the fashion industry giant LVMH, and Paris Good Fashion, the association of fashion professionals working for a more responsible fashion, have joined forces to launch an innovative initiative: the Green Store & Building Challenge. This ambitious collaboration aims to raise awareness and mobilise key players in the sector, from brand managers to store owners, towards a significant reduction in the ecological impact of fashion commerce. In an exclusive interview with Nicolas Martin, Sustainable Store Planning Manager at LVMH Group, FashionUnited explores the objectives that this initiative aims to achieve in the transition towards a more sustainable fashion industry.

LVMH and Paris Good Fashion collaborative guide for stores

The idea of the Green Store & Building Challenge partly stems from the Stores Awards organised by LVMH every two years since 2016, Nicolas Martin tells us. Following the success of these events, the Group proposed extending this approach to the Paris Good Fashion network, thus giving rise to the Green Store & Building Challenge. Before its launch, LVMH and Paris Good Fashion collaborated on developing a comprehensive guide outlining key action points and including various recommendations to assist stores in moving towards sustainability. "We drew from our experience and internal framework consisting of 60 sustainability criteria. To involve the greatest number of partners, we simplified it, in accordance with the trusted third party that accompanies us", says Nicolas Martin.

"Sustainability is no longer a choice; it is an obligation. What changes is the speed at which these practices are adopted. And here, the human factor is important. That is why 'Store Challenges' have their rightful place in the arsenal of transformation tools."

- Nicolas Martin, Sustainable Store Manager, LVMH

Bertrand Menicucci, directeur des magasins Loewe reçoit le prix Green Store Credits: Patrick Sagnes via Vestiaire Collective.

An insight into the state of sustainability in the retail sector by Nicolas Martin

When we question Nicolas Martin about the current state of sustainability in stores in France and around the world, he emphasises the complexity of painting a complete picture of this constantly evolving sector. However, he shares two positive aspects that fuel his optimism: the tightening of regulations, particularly with initiatives such as RE2020 to improve the energy performance of buildings, and the European Taxonomy, which designates a classification of economic activities with a favourable effect on the environment and aims to channel investments towards sustainable projects. He also notes the growing vigilance of younger generations regarding the importance of sustainability. "Sustainability is no longer a choice; it is an obligation. What changes is the speed at which these practices are adopted. And here, the human factor is important. That is why 'Store Challenges' have their rightful place in the arsenal of transformation tools," he asserts.

Regarding the areas of improvement deemed priorities by LVMH for stores, three points stand out: turning off lights after 10 pm, a practice adopted for over a year in their shops; closing doors, a cultural shift aimed at reducing energy consumption; and measuring installed lighting power, highlighting the importance of energy efficiency even in the use of technologies such as LEDs. However, despite these advancements, Nicolas Martin acknowledges that there is still much to be done to enhance the sustainability of stores. He underscores the need for a holistic approach and the involvement of all stakeholders in the sector to truly transform the retail landscape towards greater sustainability.

LVMH: how sustainable stores reduce costs and enhance customer experience

In practical terms, implementing the recommendations advocated by LVMH in various stores offers two tangible benefits. Firstly, it helps to reduce the operating costs (Opex) of the boutiques, which positively contributes to their profitability. Additionally, "a sustainable store provides a more pleasant working and shopping environment for our employees and customers, with better air and light quality, thereby enhancing the success of the retail space," explains Nicolas. Furthermore, in terms of additional costs, they are generally minimal. Often, what is beneficial for the environment also proves to be cost-effective. For example, furniture reuse and a frugal approach in selecting materials or lighting help to cut costs. This common-sense approach, according to Nicolas, and efficiency are well illustrated by the higher-rated projects, which are also less energy-intensive. The only additional cost that LVMH's Sustainable Store Manager deems acceptable is the extra time needed for their teams and partners to be more attentive and meticulous in managing material and energy resources.

L’Institut - Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche. Credits: LVMH

LVMH's internal KPIs: simplifying existing standards and labels

Is LVMH's aim to label and certify such a prize? Nicolas indicates that there are already a significant number of labels worldwide, among which eight have been grouped to form an internal framework at LVMH. The group has thus relied on standards such as LEED ID + C (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for interior design and construction (ID+C), an American program for certifying green buildings used worldwide, and the Energy Performance Diagnostic (DPE), a French certificate that provides information on the energy and climate performance of a home or building. "In fact, these labels and certifications are means. The real objective is change, action, continuous improvement. However, the more complex a standard is, the less we know what to do. There is often a lack of pedagogy with non-experts in construction. But it's possible." LVMH strives to make existing labels and standards accessible to a wide audience. "With the Paris Store Challenge, the aim is really to shed light on 'only' twelve simple KPIs, which easily improve your boutique's energy profile and its indirect impact on biodiversity. I would be delighted if we could display them at the entrance of boutiques, just five technical pieces of information, similar to how we display a 'nutriscore.' All this linked to our public guide, on a mini-website, which explains what these parameters mean. It is all about education," he explains.

Moving beyond green contracts: the nuances of sustainability in fashion boutiques

When asked about the potential extension of recommendations to other areas such as renewable energy and water management, Nicolas Martin highlighted an important distinction. Among the twelve criteria highlighted, none directly concern renewable energy in boutiques. Yet, this stems from a well-thought-out strategy: energy efficiency takes precedence over simply resorting to "green" contracts for electricity. According to him, true sustainability lies in reducing consumption, a much more challenging task than simply changing energy suppliers. "You're right, among the twelve criteria, there is none concerning renewable energy in boutiques. Do you know why? Because we tend to forget that efficiency is just as important as switching to a 'green' contract for electricity. To be truly sustainable, it is essential to primarily reduce consumption, which is much more difficult than changing electricity contracts." As for the impact of water in boutiques, it is deemed negligible and therefore not considered a priority area for improvement.

Regarding the next steps, Nicolas announces LVMH's intention not to limit partnerships to the current seven strategic lessors. The Group aims to expand its collaborations in the field of eco-design, emphasising the importance of collective progress in this ever-evolving sector. With ten participants this year in this challenge and four awards presented, Paris Good Fashion hopes to triple the number of participants in the 2024 edition.

LVMH
Paris Good Fashion
The Green Store & Building Challenge