Fashion: Aigle, the first major brand to become a “business with a mission”



Aigle wants to strengthen its commitment to nature. The brand of the Swiss group Maus (Lacoste, Gant, etc.) becomes a company with a mission. With, for reason of being, of “Pallow everyone to live experiences to the fullest without leaving imprints other than those of their own footsteps ”. “It’s a natural evolution, valued Sandrine Advisor, its general manager. We have been committed to this for 150 years. We are one of the first brands to have made this choice.

Since 1853, Aigle has been manufacturing in France, near Châtellerault (Vienne), natural rubber boots (26% of its income), which have become iconic. “These are durable models made to be kept for thirty to forty years”, underlines its leader. The company, whose sales amounted to 280 million euros in 2020 (consumer prices), also offers technical clothing (parkas, fleeces, etc.) and accessories (gloves, backpacks, etc.) produced in Asia.

More eco-design

To date, few companies have adopted this mission statute. Because it imposes a certain number of constraints, and in particular an audit of the defined objectives. However, becoming exemplary in sustainable fashion is a challenge. The subject is at the heart of the reflection in the sector, while the demand of the younger generations is strong in terms of transparency and brand accountability.

The rubber master (1,600 employees) has set, among his five commitments, design sustainable products, select suppliers to respond to them or raise awareness of the circular economy and environmental protection. A path on which the company has already advanced.

Already, his boots, more than a million pairs, are made from natural rubber. On the clothing side, the brand will increase the proportion of recycled materials: for winter, more than half of them will be made from recycled polyester, “Which will make it possible to reduce by 40% [leur] carbon footprint “. Aigle will also push for eco-design. “In our winter 2021 collection, we have more than 40% of eco-designed products, against 10% in 2020, notes Sandrine Advisor. Very rapid development. This rate will drop, for spring-summer 2022, to 50%. “

Achieving this result has been a challenge. Because we had to review the supply chain to have these “green” materials. Aigle has retained some of its subcontractors, who have been able to adapt to this new demand. Giving a second life to products is also a reality. On its e-commerce site (15% of sales), Aigle has launched Second Souffle, second-hand boots and clothing, the price of which she estimated. And which are resold after being cleaned. In more than half of its network of 72 stores in France, the manufacturer has also set up collection points for used clothing, which will be recycled.

The return of the boots

All these actions should enable him to reduce “Its greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030”. In addition to recycled raw materials, this will go through the use of 50% renewable energies in 2025. Finally, in order to support its initiatives in terms of environmental protection, one of its commitments, the brand is funding a eagle conservation program in partnership with the League for the Protection of Birds.

This change in status comes as the manufacturer has weathered the Covid crisis well. Its turnover limited its decline to 4% in 2020, thanks to its strong presence in China (200 points of sale). “This allowed us to see the crisis coming very early and to prepare for it in Europe”, underlines Sandrine Advisor. Sales of boots have also made a strong comeback in France. This benefited the last French manufacturer. Deprived of travel, people went for a walk in the forest or on the beach to get some fresh air. And made their garden. “More than 60% of them have a garden or a terrace”, notes the general manager.

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