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The Future Of Fashion Is Mushroom Leather: A More Sustainable Fashion Industry

As you slipped into heels or a tux to toast the New Year, you probably weren't thinking about the fact that the leather in your shoes polluted drinking water in Indian villages, or that merino sheep were made miserable for your suit - and François-Henri Pinault doesn't want you to have to. This year, the 54-year-old Frenchman is toasting the results in his 2016 sustainability report.

The fashion industry pollutes heavily and relies on subsistence-wage earners and poorly treated animals. So the chief executive of Kering, which owns 16 brands, including Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Boucheron, and Puma, in 2012 set a series of goals to be met in four years that address every damaging aspect of the supply chain.

Kering hasn’t hit them all — the word “challenges” appears 34 times in the report — but its companies are using more recycled paper in packaging, improving working conditions, and eliminating some toxic chemicals, among other accomplishments. The $13bn giant may represent only a small slice of the multitrillion-dollar apparel and accessories industries. But think of it as proof of concept, says Pinault, whose company’s stock has doubled in the four years since he’s implemented his plan.

Why did you set out to make Kering sustainable?

The [2007] acquisition of Puma was a game-changer. At that time, Puma was run by Jochen Zeitz. Jochen is someone who was personally committed to the environment. He went very far with it through Puma. And he gave me this new approach of sustainability. If you do it right, you can create for yourself amazing opportunity creating good for the planet, for your employees, for your shareholders, for stakeholders. It’s a completely different vision.

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