Paris climate conference announces controversial sponsor
French fashion house Louis Vuitton has been announced as the first major sponsor of the UN climate conference in Paris in December, in a move criticised by consumer groups.
Corporate partners are being brought on board to reduce the estimated €200m cost of hosting the conference for the French Government. French firms Renault and Suez Environment are among the other company's expected to back the event.
However, the reaction to the Louis Vuitton announcement may scare prospective sponsors away.
In a statement released last week when rumors of the deal first emerged, campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory said: "Louis Vuitton makes its money from selling extremely expensive luxury items for the uber-rich, slightly at odds with the idea of living equitably on a constrained planet.
"What's more, they are well known tax-dodgers, with subsidiaries located in tax havens, allowing them to avoid paying their fair share towards the energy transition we need to make if we're going to tackle climate change.
"But if climate's becoming chic, then Louis Vuitton and their elite clientèle can't miss out on being seen in this season's UN-tinged blue."
Mediapart, the French investigative journalism site that broke the story, said that the French Government was exploiting the general interest of the conference to meet the special interest of a few companies.
Louis Vuitton is no stranger to controversy over its sustainability practices: a 2013 Greenpeace sustainable fashion report named and shamed Louis Vuitton as one of the brands at the bottom of the rankings.
"This is our lowest possible sustainability score," said the site. "And Louis Vuitton has earned it by communicating hardly anything concrete about the policies for environment, carbon emissions or labor conditions in low-wages countries. For us as consumers, it is unclear whether Louis Vuitton is committed to sustainability or not."
Louis Vuitton is far from the only fashion brand to struggle with green practices, but growing consumer pressure has seen big industry names such as H&M, Levis and Adidas commit to a more sustainable way of doing business.
Louis Vuitton, which operates under the corporate name LVMH, was contacted for comment for this story, but edie has not yet received a response.