Can a bag save the world?
To achieve Mulberry's ambitious commitment, the Made to Last Manifesto focuses on six key actions for change:
1. Pioneer a hyper-local, hyper-transparent ‘farm to finished product’ supply chain model
2. Develop the world’s lowest carbon leather sourced from a network of environmentally conscious farms
3. Achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035
4. Continue to extend the life of Mulberry products through repair and restoration
5. Buy back, resell or repurpose any Mulberry bag
6. Extend its commitment to being a real Living Wage employer by working with its network of suppliers to achieve the same
Over the last 50 years, Mulberry has been at the forefront of designing and manufacturing leather goods in the UK, but, in 2021, it is taking this moment to ask the question ‘Can leather ever be sustainable?’. To answer this, the brand is looking at every part of its supply chain to embed principles of regeneration and circularity at every stage.
Acknowledging the environmental issues associated with cattle farming, Mulberry believes the continuation of a long and successful association with leather is dependent on achieving full traceability from farm to finished product, allowing us to put in place a network of organic and environmentally conscious farms to supply the hides that create its leather. This network will provide the foundations of its commitment to a regenerative and circular supply chain by 2030.
Mulberry has always been a brand built on community and locality, and since its inception it has remained committed to making more than half of its products in its Somerset factories. Today those factories are carbon neutral and every person working in them is paid a real Living Wage, but proud as Mulberry is of these achievements, it knows it has to go much further to make transformational change, and that’s why it is asking the question, ‘Can you make a blue bag green?’.
Later this year Mulberry will release its first locally made ‘farm to finished product’ bags using the world’s lowest carbon leather.
This collection will represent the future of the business, establishing a model that can be replicated with a network of trusted partners and underpins its commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2035. Its transformative approach to leather sourcing will be reflected in the way it innovates new solutions across its business, from integrating recycled nylon and regenerative organic cotton into its products to continuously assessing and reducing the environmental impact of its packaging and its physical store network.
In asking, ‘Can you teach an old bag new tricks?’, Mulberry highlights its commitment to extending the life of every Mulberry product through repair, renewal, and repurposing. This commitment is at the heart of its circular proposition, influencing the way it designs and manufactures, and the services it offers customers. The Repairs Team at The Rookery, one of its Somerset factories, are masters of restoration, breathing new life into more than 10,000 bags every year, with leather and hardware archives going back over 35 years.
Through the Mulberry Exchange it matches authenticated and beautifully restored classics with a new owner, and every one of its bags - be they 50 years or five months old - can find a second, third or even fourth home with another member of the Mulberry community. This platform was launched in-store in 2020 and is going digital on mulberry.com in April 2021, alongside a recently launched partnership with Vestiaire Collective, making resale a core pillar of Mulberry’s circularity strategy.
If the day comes that a Mulberry bag really has reached the end of the line, the brand will still buy it back and using an innovative energy reclaim system, unique to its strategic partner Muirhead, a member of the Scottish Leather Group, power the production of a new bag, ensuring that the line never ends, it just becomes a circle.
The Made to Last Manifesto promises that the Mulberry business and a Mulberry bag represent a commitment to regeneration, renewal and reimagination. Keeping this promise requires a culture change across the industry, the supply chain and amongst customers, a radical shift in both the way things are made and the way they are used, and it ultimately leads to the question: ‘Can a bag save the world?’. Mulberry knows real change is born from a willingness to ask the hard questions and to keep seeking meaningful answers.
Can a Mulberry bag come with a promise of regeneration, renewal and reimagination? If it can, and we believe it can, then yes, a bag can truly be part of making things better.
“At Mulberry we have already taken significant action to embed sustainability across our business, but today we offer our commitment to a programme of transformative change, embedding principles of regeneration and circularity across our entire supply chain. We are committed to creating a hyper-local, hyper-transparent ‘farm to finished product’ sourcing model and whilst we are at the beginning of this transition, I am immensely proud of my colleagues and the work done to launch the Made to Last Manifesto. We look forward to the challenges ahead.”
— Thierry Andretta, CEO, Mulberry