Nadja Swarovski: The luxury sector has been ‘incredibly resilient’ amid the pandemic

  • Nadja Swarovski, chair of the Swarovski Foundation, said that the "luxury sector, to a certain extent has been incredibly resilient" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Swarovski believed that more direct dialogue with consumers would help designers become more tailored to customer demands.
  • She hoped that would help reduce waste in the fashion industry.

LONDON — Nadja Swarovski, chair of the Swarovski Foundation, said that the luxury sector had effectively embraced the challenge of operating and reaching consumers amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Swarovski, the first female executive board member for her family's luxury jewelry brand, was speaking at CNBC's Evolve Global Summit on Wednesday. She told CNBC's Tania Bryer that the "luxury sector, to a certain extent has been incredibly resilient and I think those companies who have been digitally savvy have absolutely embraced this opportunity to communicate with their customers on a digital scale." 

In addition, Swarovski said it had been "fantastic to see how the fashion industry has embraced this dilemma," with non-essential retail businesses in many countries having been temporarily closed due to lockdowns and other Covid-19 public health restrictions for most of the past year. 

Swarovski pointed to the use of digital fashion shows, in place of physical events, as well as fashion designers "communicating directly" more with the consumer. 

For instance, fashion label Alexander McQueen invited fans to take on various design challenges and share their creations on Instagram by tagging the brand, along with the hashtag #McQueenCreators. 

Danish brand Ganni also launched a challenge inviting fans of the label to create and send in images or artwork around the theme of "Home is where the heart is," to be selected for a place in an exhibition in Copenhagen and potentially win gift cards. 

Swarovski believed that more direct dialogue with consumers would help designers become more tailored to customer demands and hoped that would help reduce waste in the fashion industry. 

She pointed out that a quarter of all clothing produced last year went unworn, or even touched, before ending up in waste disposal sites. 

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, showed that on average each American produces about 75 pounds of textile waste a year. 

"I think with this direct communication and also further transparency in the supply chain, that will be certainly mitigated," Swarovski said. 

'Conscious luxury'

Swarovski also discussed how sustainability had been built into the Swarovski brand, that was created 125 years ago by her great-great-grandfather, Daniel Swarovski. 

She said that it had been "special, as a female I can say, my great, great-grandfather certainly had the mission to make every woman know what it feels like to wear a diamond but make it affordable." 

Swarovski had established itself on offering "affordable luxury," she said, though the brand made the transition into "conscious luxury" in recent years. 

Swarovski launched its lab-grown line Swarovski Created Diamonds in 2017. It then entered the colored lab-grown diamond market last year.

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