Luxury fashion has minted its first B Corp.
Chloé announced Monday that it has achieved the vaunted designation, which is awarded only to companies that can verifiably demonstrate a commitment to balance profits with social and environmental purpose. Despite the unsparing rigorousness of the B Corp process, the Richemont-owned company says the certification isn’t a “final goal” but rather marks a “new stage” in reinventing how it conducts business as a “force for good.”
“It is our strong belief that we need to take full accountability for the impact we have on people and planet, injecting purpose across everything we do, transforming how we do business and actively participating to build a better world,” CEO Riccardo Bellini said in a statement. “B Corp offers us a powerful framework to accelerate and guide this transformation.”
While Chloé’s “first” is being disputed—Another Tomorrow, a luxury label, says it‘s the first high-end brand to achieve B Corp—it doesn’t want to be the last luxury house to be certified either. “Being the first luxury maison to achieve B Corp certification, we aim to inspire other organizations in the fashion industry to join the movement,” Bellini said.
Chloé had already shifted gears with the launch of its “Women Forward, For a Fairer Future” initiative last June, but its transition from high-end purveyor to conscious company hit full tilt with the appointment of sustainability powerhouse Gabriela Hearst as its creative director a few months later. Hearst’s debut collection was awash in recycled cashmere knits, reconstructed vintage purses and patchworked deadstock leather, resulting in a 400 percent shrinkage in carbon footprint over the previous line. Earlier this month, Hearst unveiled Chloé Craft, a collaboration with Fair Trade-certified social enterprises, such as Akanjoto, Manos del Uruguay and Mifuko, to promote and protect time-honored artisanal techniques.
As a B Corp, Chloé joins fellow mission-driven businesses, such as Allbirds, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Toms and, more recently, Vestiaire Collective, in changing its bylaws to consider the impact of its decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, the community and the environment. Chloé is now developing a roadmap with “concrete and measurable goals,” including a move to lower-impact materials, for review and approval by a sustainability board that includes civil-rights activist Amanda Nguyen and B Lab France co-founder Elisabeth Laville. It’s also creating annual sustainability goals for all Chloé employees to foster engagement company-wide.
The ranks of B Corps—which B Lab, the firm that administers the imprimateur, describes as “like the Fair Trade label but for a whole company, not just a bag of coffee”—have swelled since 2007. Today, more than 3,500 B Corps span 70 countries. In the United States, 40-plus states have proposed or passed legislation acknowledging B Corps as “for benefit” entities separate from standard corporations. B Corps are required to go through a recertification process every three years, including a possible on-site audit.
“We are proud of this achievement and I am thankful to the many people in our company that worked hard to make it possible during [the] more than 18 months,” Bellini said. “By becoming B Corp today, we reinforce our commitment to continuously challenging ourselves to use our brand and our business as a force for good.”