General view of the exterior of a refurbished Gucci London store in London, England.
General view of the exterior of a refurbished Gucci London store in London, England. - 

Kai Ryssdal: There are people -- probably not enough, to be honest -- but there are people who, when they buy things, buy with the earth in mind. And when you picture them in your mind, you probably think people padding around in unbleached cotton tunics and birkenstocks -- not Gucci miniskirts and snakeskin pumps. Think again.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: The ads for Yves Saint Laurent's winter collection bear no hint of a new "green" message. A model wearing nothing but gold accessories rolls around on a white fur rug.

Music: I can change I can change I can change I can change...

Behind the scenes, the brand's owner is pushing for change. French firm PPR controls Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, and other high-end names. All of its luxury brands will now issue a statement of Environmental Profit and Loss. A company called TruCost will help them do that.

Cary Krosinsky: Truly and fully gaining an understanding of the entirety of their footprint.

Cary Krosinsky is senior vice president. He explains how Trucost measures impact by...

Krosinsky: Going four tiers down the supply chain. Suppliers of the suppliers of the suppliers, so you're getting to very much the raw materials and completely quantifying the impacts of greenhouse gas, waste and water use.

Without PPR asking for it, suppliers like leather tanners or fabric mills would have little reason to hand over that kind of information.

Jack Plunkett at Plunkett Research says taking environmental reporting public can improve brand value. He says shoppers at exclusive boutiques may not be your earth-first activists, but...

Jack Plunkett: I'd say if you look at the donors list for big environmental organizations and look at who's supporting the environmental movement, it's exactly those consumers.

And in an age of 99 percenters chanting in the streets, luxury consumers are likely to value brands that tout the greater good.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

Follow Eve Troeh at @evetroeh