Future of Luxury on the Horizon in Latin America

The world’s first sustainable luxury award winners were announced in Buenos Aires earlier this month. The awards recognise outstanding leadership towards sustainable luxury, and are open to any company with a business connection to Latin America. All the winners were small enterprises, which indicates how entrepreneurs, and their young companies, are embracing sustainability to move ahead in the luxury sector. “The history of luxury is a history of entrepreneurs innovating new products, services and approaches that resonated with the aspirations of their time. Therefore, as social and environmental awareness grows worldwide, the luxury brands being created today may be the major global names of tomorrow,” explained Professor Jem Bendell, founder of the Authentic Luxury Network, a co-organiser of the awards.

The winner of the Best Sustainable Luxury Performance in Latin America in the fashion and accessories category was Pachacuti. The British-based company works with indigenous communities in Ecuador to produce fairly traded high-end panama hats. The Paris-based Ainy won the award for beauty company. It works with Latin American producers to sustainably harvest key ingredients. Argentine company Perma Hue won the award in the tourism sector. An eco-resort in Patagonia, Perma Hue seeks to promote the wellbeing of their visitors through re-connecting with nature. In the jewellery sector, a special mention was given to Oro Verde, not as a company, but as a community cooperative, pioneering the production of ethical gold. They work with Afro-Colombian communities to support small-scale alluvial mining operations in the Choco region of Colombia. Oro Verde™ have pioneered an environmentally sustainable, socially responsible form of artisanal mining that seeks to preserve the unique and vital virgin rainforest ecosystems while providing a fair, regular source of income to miners, their families and their communities. Also for work on jewellery, a special mention was made of Ian Doyle, from Lifeworth Consulting, for his research on a new agenda for responsible jewellery, focusing on social development. A spanish version of his report “Uplifting the Earth” was launched at the awards.

Dana Thomas presenting at the awards

In a talk before the awards, author of the best-selling “Deluxe”, Dana Thomas, explained that the “luxury industry” is an oxymoron, as luxury is about something rare and special, and with a living heritage embodied in its productions processes today. In his talk, Professor Jem Bendell explained that the history of most industries is the history of creative destruction of incumbent companies and brands, so that we should expect to see new luxury brands emerge because of the disruptive potential of the internet, sustainability challenges, and changing patterns of cultural exchange.

The award to Perma Hue was presented by Maria Eugenia Giron, former CEO of Carrera y Carrera, and author of “Inside Luxury”. Award winners received a leaf bowl of Palo Santo wood carved by the Wichi aboriginals of the Argentine North East. The awards were judged by Maria Eugenia Giron (IE Business School), Dana Thomas (best-selling author), Eduardo Escobedo (United Nations, UNCTAD), Summer Rayne Oakes (Source4style),

Awards Judge Maria Eugenia Giron with winners from Perma Hue

Renata Black (7 Bar Foundation), Ana Laura Torres (Centre for Sustainable Textiles) and Professor Jem Bendell (Lifeworth / Griffith University / Authentic Luxury Network).

The main Argentine newspaper covered the event and the winners. Awards organiser Miguel Angel Gardetti announced that the awards would stay in Argentina for one more year, but extend their reach in nominations and coverage. Further information on the winners, the speakers, the awards, and others working on sustainable luxury, is available at: http://www.authenticluxury.net

Professor Gardetti and Professor Bendell, founders of the awards

Nominations for the 2012 Sustainable Luxury Awards should be sent to www.lujosustentable.org

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