We have been following the work of Positive Luxury with great interest since they first launched the Butterfly Mark concept. For a long time we felt that the luxury industry needed to develop a way to differentiate and celebrate the work of luxury brands and businesses that do more than just creating luxury products and experiences: they interact with and nurture their community, they follow procedures to ensure sustainability, they value their staff, the environment that surrounds them and the mark they leave on the world as much as their profit.
Positive Luxury appeared during an important time when the word "luxury" began to be both overused and undervalued. Any company doing anything they thought was in any way special called themselves "luxury brands" to the detriment of the luxury industry as a whole. A new word was needed to differentiate what was "marketing luxury" and genuine, "positive luxury". Seeing Positive Luxury take shape and develop has been a breath of fresh air.
The company evaluates companies across a number of areas such as governance, social framework, environmental framework, philanthropy and innovation. Brands that are awarded the Butterfly Mark are true ambassadors of the luxury industry as a powerful force for change, a nest for innovation and craftsmanship, and a benchmark for sustainable development.
The future of luxury is happening now and the new word for luxury is here: It's Positive Luxury.
Talk to us about your first experience of luxury. What was it and how did it feel like?
My dad gave me a Cartier watch when I was 18 and I loved it, it felt so special and I treasure and still wear it today.
Tell us what made you decide to create Positive Luxury. How did the process take place?
Positive Luxury was founded with the ambition to influence brands to do better and inspire and mobilize 2.5 billion wealthy consumers to buy better, from brands that care about people and the planet.
My co-founder, Karen Hanton, and I wanted to combine our experience and knowledge to simplify sustainability and positively communicate the actions of brands directly to the consumer, through technology.
Positive Luxury helps brands to talk about their values, and the Butterfly Mark allows consumers to instantly recognise brands they can trust, and discover the values that match their own.
What do you feel defines a luxury product, a luxury brand and a luxury experience?
I really believe that luxury has changed, it’s now more open, experience-oriented, innovation centred and social and environmentally minded than ever before. What remains however, is ‘the dream’ element and the aspiration, and so it is fundamental for luxury brands to continue to nurture the qualities that feed the desire for these products and services across the industry.
Thinking of the technology involved in the creation of luxury, from sports cars and watches to exciting new sensorial experiences at five-star hotels. Do you feel technology could ever be a threat to luxury as we know it? Do you feel there should always be a limit to technology for the experience of luxury to be above all, a human experience?
There shouldn’t be a limit to technology, however luxury will always have that human experience and it’s a question of how brands decide to embrace technology to enhance the experience, not replace it.
Tell us how you feel about luxury brands that are not tackling issues such as carbon footprint and not implementing green procedures. Does the end justify the means?
I feel that brands who aren’t doing this, lack leadership. Strong leaders think about how the brand will be in the future, and in today’s world a brand that has not yet embraced sustainable business practice and innovation is likely to find employee retention, economic performance and supply chain management, to name a few, more difficult in the future.
Where is the luxury industry right now, what do you see as important factors nurturing and pushing businesses that are active members of the industry at the moment?
Many luxury lifestyle brands recognise the need to implement responsible business practices, especially as the business case for sustainability has become more clear, delivering greater ROI for companies.
The visionary leaders of today believe that making their products or services responsibly – in other words, with minimum environmental impact and maximum positive impact on society – is the logical and only way to do profitable business. It’s through these leaders that sustainability has been redefined to move from a focus on just philanthropy and supply chain management, to embedding the company values across every aspect of the business. This is where we are seeing real fundamental change.
Positive Luxury has recently posted an interesting report on the future of the luxury industry. Thinking of high-end hospitality and luxury hotels, what is the advice you give hotels to stand out in their field in the years to come.
As our report highlighted, nearly all global consumers expect companies to act responsibly, so the more readily available information the better. Investing in causes that connect with your target market from a social perspective, and what makes sense to your business philosophy, will also resonate with the consumer and make the brand stand out from competitors. This is true for brands across all industries but, as our latest industry report (The Future is Now: What’s shaking up the travel industry?) shows, there is a huge demand from travellers for authentic experiences and an increasing consideration of the environmental impact of their choice. It’s all in the communication and authenticity of your actions.
Nowadays, to many, luxury means time. To others, it means silence. What is your very own luxury, describe a moment.
Not to be predictable, but I’d have to say time as well. Time with friends, time to myself, time to switch off (unlikely) and time to be in nature, this is a luxury I will never take for granted.
Five Star Magazine is delighted to be a partner of Positive Luxury supporting the luxury properties, brands and luxury service providers who understand and care about the influence they have and the mark they will leave behind.