Before you blow $3K on that snakeskin bag this Christmas…

…know that the luxury brand that made it is probably flunking the ethics test. So says “Deeper Luxury,” (pdf) a new World Wildlife Federation (WWF) report grading the social and environmental performance of the world’s top 10 luxury brands. From safety in the workplace to reducing emissions and protecting human rights (a.k.a. steering clear of ...

597905_071130_wwf_0_05.jpg
597905_071130_wwf_0_05.jpg

...know that the luxury brand that made it is probably flunking the ethics test.

So says "Deeper Luxury," (pdf) a new World Wildlife Federation (WWF) report grading the social and environmental performance of the world's top 10 luxury brands. From safety in the workplace to reducing emissions and protecting human rights (a.k.a. steering clear of sweatshops), the social quality of the big 10 is decidedly unluxe.

Both Bulgari, the famed Italian jewelry and handbag line, and American leather goods brand Tod's get fat "F"s for their performance. L'Oreal, Hermes, and LVMH — the world's largest luxury goods conglomerate, with Fendi, Marc Jacobs, and Givenchy under its umbrella — all muster only average scores of C+.

…know that the luxury brand that made it is probably flunking the ethics test.

So says “Deeper Luxury,” (pdf) a new World Wildlife Federation (WWF) report grading the social and environmental performance of the world’s top 10 luxury brands. From safety in the workplace to reducing emissions and protecting human rights (a.k.a. steering clear of sweatshops), the social quality of the big 10 is decidedly unluxe.

Both Bulgari, the famed Italian jewelry and handbag line, and American leather goods brand Tod’s get fat “F”s for their performance. L’Oreal, Hermes, and LVMH — the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, with Fendi, Marc Jacobs, and Givenchy under its umbrella — all muster only average scores of C+.

From left: L’Oréal, Hermés, LVMH, Coach, Tiffany & Co., Swatch, PPR, Richemont, Bulgari, Tods

The report may be just potent enough to hold fashion’s notoriously short attention span for more than a minute or two. But beyond that, I’m skeptical. The middle classes in India and China will explode in the next few decades, and these brands will have more than enough new customers who probably won’t give two shakes about the life and death of the snake that made their bag.

But if appealing to the do-gooder side of consumers doesn’t work, the WWF has an alternate plan: Guilt the celebrities. The report has a whole chapter pointing out that famous faces shilling diamond-encrusted, environmentally unfriendly watches are the same faces campaigning against climate change and AIDS. It even gets personal: 

[A]ctress Sienna Miller campaigns against climate change through her associationwith Global Cool. She also endorses Tods, which came bottom of our index of ESG perfomance. Tods may represent a liability to Sienna Miller’s reputation.

As if dating Jude Law didn’t already do that.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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