ESG Outlook is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on their company’s latest environmental, social and governance initiatives and their own personal efforts toward sustainability. In this Q&A, Hassan Pierre, of luxury ethical fashion company Maison de Mode, discusses how sustainable luxury is defined by quality, not price point.
Name: Hassan Pierre
Title: Co-Founder and CEO
Company: Maison de Mode
What do you consider to be your company’s best ESG-related achievement over the last 5 years?
It would have to be under our Mode///Communications (our consulting and communications arm) in which we implemented the use of energy-efficient techniques in Diane von Furstenberg’s New York City flagship. This was to lower her carbon emissions by updating lighting and HVAC system.
What is your personal philosophy on shopping and caring for your clothes? How do you try to minimize the environmental impact of the clothes you buy?
I wear a uniform, so I don’t fall into trends or the need to buy constantly to update my personal style. That said, I buy clothes that are well made and last a long time. To me, one of the best ways to be sustainable when it comes to the clothes you own in your closet is to wear your pieces a minimum of 30 times. When it comes time to update the pieces because they’ve worn out, I always send my pieces to a local NGO that helps those working out of poverty with the tools (e.g., clean, nice clothes) to land interviews and other important factors where personal appearance has an effect.
How much do you look into a brand’s social or environmental practices before shopping?
All the time, I’m lucky that I’m in the fashion industry and have access to brands and designers and information that most consumers don’t. To me, if a brand isn’t authentically taking sustainable practices into their business, I’m not shopping from them. I love the brand Rothy’s. They make a stylish and sustainable sneaker, and because their ethics match the chic aesthetic, I was compelled to purchase the shoe.
Anything new you are doing to boost sustainability beyond what you buy?
Yes! Of course, most people don’t realize this, but the biggest use of energy and water use happens after you purchase the garment. Washing clothes and drying clothes constantly is where the bulk of this energy and water consumption comes from, and so I look to a brand like Dropps as a solution to that.
What would you say is the biggest misconception consumers have about sustainability in fashion?
I think people equate sustainable fashion as being either too expensive and niche or “patchouli/granola” and mass. Because of this, I try to educate consumers that sustainable fashion isn’t either granola or too expensive, it’s real luxury that is defined by quality and not the price point.
What was your company’s biggest takeaway from the Covid crisis?
That we no longer have to be defined by a zip code to find the best talent to collaborate with as a team to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves, which is to make sustainable fashion the norm and what we know as our fashion industry today as harmful.
What is your company’s latest sustainability-related initiative?
Education is one of our biggest pillars within our company ethos and our Future of Fashion Summit 3.0 will once again be a platform where fashion leaders, advocates and innovators can further bring to light these ideas to a wide consumer audience.
What do you consider to be the apparel industry’s biggest missed opportunity related to securing meaningful change?
Transparency! With all the technology and resources behind NFT/blockchain, it’s a shame to see the real nitty-gritty part of our industry not adopt those ideas to move the industry into its next phase. As much as we think the idea of sustainable fashion has moved into the mainstream lexicon, we still have to remember this is a global issue we are all trying to solve as it relates to fashion’s impact on our planet. Until we can all collectively as a global community put guidelines in place for the practices that are currently not working to sustain a healthy environment, all our separate efforts won’t allow us to achieve the outcome we are all actively working to achieve.