Louis Vitton CEO- Fur One of Most Sustainable Materials
(Reprinted from above link)
The link above is in German. Here is the TEXT in English:
"We oppose sustainability terrorists"
Published on 23.07.2019 | Reading time: 7 minutes
By Inga Griese
Michael Burke is the CEO of the world's largest luxury brand: Louis Vuitton. For seven years he has been at the head of the fashion house. A conversation about the weakening US market - and misunderstood sustainability.
T he first guests are already at the second glass Ruinart when Michael Burke arrives, his flight was delayed for hours, he could just change the suit. So it is, the CEO of the largest luxury brand in the world makes no fuss. But maybe that's why he's quite right in the meantime, that we'll retreat to the veranda patted by the evening sun for an interview. From the balustrade you can see the driveway, guests, sightseers, photographers. The new artist cooperation of Louis Vuitton "Artycapucines" will be celebrated this evening in Los Angeles. This bag is named after the location of the first shop in the Parisian Rue des Capucines. Sam Falls, Urs Fischer, Nicholas Hlobo, Alex Israel, Tschabala Self and Jonas Wood have designed them in their own way.
Later, the party continues in a spectacular glass-fronted LA house designed by William Lautner over LA The owner is James F. Goldstein, a dazzling man whose business card features "fashion, architecture, basketball". He has been seen at fashion shows for ages, often underestimated for his shrill outfits. A show crasher maybe? It is typical of the polyglot Michael Burke that he has known him well for decades.
ICONIST: Even here in rich Beverly Hills, the crisis of the US retail industry is becoming clear. That's why you deliberately opened a pop-up shop in the former Brooks Brothers Store and introduced your new artist collaboration?
Michael Burke : Los Angeles is experiencing its moment. This city has long been criticized, described as soulless, boring, polluted, without art and culture. And yet 20 years ago began a development whose fruits you can now see. You'd think California's biggest export is entertainment and software. But it is culture. And it's interesting how LA is loved by the world now.
ICONIST: The first big cruise show three years ago in Palm Springs was already such a moment, right?
Burke: Yes, it was controversial, understood by the least. Many have mistaken Palm Springs for Palm Beach in Florida until then ...
ICONIST: Palm Springs is still unruffled and authentic.
Burke: It had its time in the 50s, and now it's back - with more depth. Culture is just timing. But in 2016 it was not easy to convince my people that we were going there. They thought I might have smoked something. Hardly anyone has had festivals like "Coachella" or "Burning Man" on screen, not the midcentury architecture, not the lifestyle - back to the basics. For many it was a discovery. We build on that.
ICONIST: At the moment you do not associate the word "simple" with America, do you?
Burke: The US is our largest market with uninterrupted growth in the last twelve years. It is a polarized nation, which was not the case in the past. There was a welcome culture, open to diversity. Then came the moment when America was away from the window and fell in love with China and less concerned about the US market. We never did that, it is an essential part of our business.
ICONIST: Does it pay to stay loyal to markets that falter ?
Burke: Yes. Whenever a market disappears from the scene, we will go even further and invest. Japan, which was thought of as nothing is coming, is experiencing a renaissance. In America, we are very well integrated locally, Louis Vuitton himself showed already in 1893 its products in Chicago. As a company, we have a long-term view of the markets, because politics comes and goes. We stick to our values ??no matter what the political situation is.
ICONIST: They've commissioned six artists - more famous and less known - for the Artycapucines series. Why do you need these cooperations?
Burke: There is no need in the sense of need, it is something fundamental, which we always had. The difference is that no advertisement was made for it a century ago. You did not know what happened behind the scenes. In the age of smartphones, people want to know everything, about the origin of the products, about the ideas - who had them, why. In the past there was only the exterior, today the interior has to be transparent.
ICONIST: At least the alleged interior?
Burke: Superficiality does not work anymore. Nobody believes you anymore.
ICONIST: The collaboration with Jeff Koons was a great marketing scoop. The artists we are talking about now address another, possibly smaller, more intellectual audience. Was that your intention? After all, your boss Bernard Arnault is a great art connoisseur.
Burke: We have no rules for that. We do what we think is right. Time then shows us if that was it. With Jeff, we had a clash of two icons. There were creative sparks, it was energetic and also controversial.
ICONIST: Was it worth it?
Burke: Yes, very much. Also because it was controversial. But there is no formula, no coherence in the cooperation. But they are all like a supervitamin, an energy injection. The artists in turn get great visibility. At the same time, it is also a challenge for them to do something commercial.
ICONIST: An old discussion: Can you work as an artist with a luxury megabrand?
Burke: Do you sell your soul? I never believed in this dichotomy.
ICONIST: The more up-to-date discussion is probably also that of cultural appropriateness. Bloggers like Diet Prada chase the companies in front of them. And these can be hunted. For example, Gucci with a turban, which was branded as denigrating the Sikhs. The fact that he casually tasted $ 750 did not upset anyone. What do you think about it?
Burke: This is not about morality. If it were moral, the arguments would be more thoughtful. It's pure negativity, just be against it.
ICONIST: Even Prada now waives flat-rate on fur.
Burke: Fur is one of the most sustainable materials ever. But you can discuss about materials. But when it comes to cultural probation, there is no mental process behind it, no readiness for discussion, only negativity: you are big and successful, so you are wrong. One problem is that communication today is driven by the masses and negativity and there are few filters that allow for real discussion.
ICONIST: As a big brand, do you have the opportunity to oppose it?
Burke: We will oppose the fashion terrorists and the sustainability terrorists, who act as moral apostles and have little to do with sustainability . When it comes to fur, leather and raw materials, we will defend ourselves, as well as with the true history of recycling. There is a lot of false PR related to sustainability.
ICONIST: The trend is toward the attitude that you should consume less, spend less - is that worrying you as CEO of the world's largest luxury brand?
Burke: Well, the world is not static, and in the last 20 years, two billion people have gone from poor to middle class. We have never grown faster. But we do not believe in over-consumption and over-production, so we do not have an outlet, and we do not think you should be influenced by price, so we have no discounts.
ICONIST: What are you doing with the unsold fashion?
Burke: We're already recycling a lot. You have to reconcile demand and supply chain and the goal is 100% recycling. We have not made it yet, because the entire supply chain has to work. However, we think that you have to buy less and better. This has been our credo for 165 years.
ICONIST: Is it a misunderstanding that things have to be cheap so that as many as possible can afford them?
Burke: I do not believe in a quick gratification, because that's the problem of overconsumption. You should be quiet for a while.
Michael Burke, Luxury Brand Manager: The Francokanadier, 62, spent his childhood in Germany. He has been working for LVMH boss Bernard Arnault for nearly 40 years - with Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Bulgari. Since 2012, Burke, who has five sons, is CEO of Louis Vuitton.