Gucci's Owner to Push Stricter Animal Welfare Standard Worldwide

(Bloomberg) -- Kering SA, the French owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent, says it wants to improve suppliers’ treatment of animals used for products like leather handbags and cashmere suits.

The luxury company will apply European Union standards for animal welfare -- considered to be among the world’s most rigorous -- as a global baseline by 2025, it said Monday. For suppliers that already meet the requirements, which include unfettered access to clean water and room to move freely, the company said it wants to encourage further improvements like allowing free grazing for cattle or making sure ostriches have enough space to run.

“Many countries do not require this level of procurement,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering chief sustainability officer. “In much of the world you still don’t have an awareness in the culture that animals are sentient beings.”

The move comes as consumers and investors increase scrutiny of the environmental impact of fashion companies across the price spectrum, from mass-market giants like Hennes & Mauritz AB to luxury outfits like Kering and rival LVMH. The fashion industry’s carbon emissions raise alarm bells for climate advocates, while animal-welfare groups decry conditions in the raising of animals for materials like crocodile leather and fur.

Kering’s plan will depend on cooperation with the meat industry, Daveu said, as many materials used in fashion are byproducts of farming for food. Tracing materials, which has been a challenge for brands that depend on a complex network of subcontractors to produce each season’s collection, also needs improvement, she said.

“The prerequisite for implementing this will be that we can trace all the way to the farm our animal skins and fibers,” she said.

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