Wemanage Observatory Interview #9: Dennis Valle on Sustainable Storytelling for Luxury Brands
After years of working for digital strategies for major luxury brands, you have changed your focus to sustainable fashion. How did this shift happen?
Actually, I didn’t change. I was always an eco-human person in my personal life. I’m not an extremist. When I was 20years old I was the president of a small group of people that was promoting and building in Italy a small forest.
When it comes to my fashion experience, every time I was approaching something that was not in my veins I have always tried to change the way it was made. But I’m not a designer and I’m not a fashion company owner, so I can change just little parts of the value chain.
When I started my consultancy agency I moved onto strategy consulting for Purpose-driven brand and Sustainable roadmaps. Using my marketing and business background, I am working more with fashion and design start-ups but even with big brands that wants to leverage in something with Purpose.
And the product is the most important part of the journey: you need to have a good product with a purpose to succeed.
So how to build respect for the sustainable brand and its prices? How to convince consumers that the price is worth the product?
Simon Sinek said: ‘’People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’.
this needs to be applied to sustainability communications.
A brand is no longer just an expression of your identity or management of your reputation. A brand is everything about your business strategy, from why you exist to what you sell, and crucially, the relationship you have with your consumer. So, it is clear why sustainability has become a key feature of brand architecture. Changing consumer expectations, resource constraints, climate change, emerging markets, all of these sustainability challenges have strategic implications for your brand.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said that the reason why companies are not great at sustainability and building trust is “because they are not authentic, to begin with”.
Your thoughts on an ideal evolution?
There are many important steps to take that make this very moment incredibly exciting and stimulating. There are new generations of users to be taken into account and multi-platform strategies to implement.
Personalization and innovation are fundamental, not only for processes of production but also for products. I am especially interested in is how luxury can become sustainable and how new and more ethical values can be associated with luxury making them a ‘positive luxury’.
How do you think brands are working towards storytelling strategies that can value sustainability?
There is a growing niche of consumers who want to make more conscious and responsible choices with the products they purchase, especially when they look for a special object like any luxury one can be. More transparency on the production chain is fundamental, but there is still a lot of work to improve on the manufacturer’s level. It’s a fundamental part of innovation and growth.
Do you believe that storytelling can be intertwined with innovation?
Yes, absolutely! This is a very dear theme to me and I have been working a lot on this recently…Many luxury brands have a wonderful and powerful history and an amazing ability to create new stories all the time.
Engaging users and creating dreams to aspire is not as easy it may seem. Luxury fashion needs to update their voices and the words they use to attract the people around them, they need to be more honest and real.