What do Miller Harris perfumes, Dom Pérignon champagne, Stephen Webster jewellery, Rachel Bates glassware and Cambodia’s Song Saa Private Island resort have in common? They all have the seal of approval from smart online platform Positive Luxury, a site dedicated to the complex but ever more relevant topic of sustainable consumption. Its diverse roll call of brands is subjected to a substantial vetting process before being awarded the site’s Butterfly Mark – which takes a lot of the time-consuming legwork out of shopping ethically.
“Sustainability is my passion,” says Diana Verde Nieto, founder of sustainable communications consultancy Clownfish, who set up Positive Luxury in 2011 with Toptable.com founder Karen Hanton (whose online restaurant-booking service made her £16m when she sold it in 2010). “We’ve put together a council of experts who advise the brands that come to us and assess whether they qualify for the Butterfly Mark. For most brands, sustainability is still a work in progress, but we reward that progress.”
The site hosts household names such as Krug, Berluti, Dior and Chaumet, alongside smaller, ethical luxury offerings such as Uruguayan designer Gabriela Hearst’s chic womenswear (dusky-pink checked wool-blend Sophie blazer, £1,595, and matching Lisa trousers, £715); Argentum Apothecary’s natural skincare (La Potion Infinie restorative day & night cream, £158 for 70ml); and Alexandra Mor’s unique jewellery (Wild Tagua-Seed Sphere ring with ethically mined emeralds and diamonds, $29,500). The site offers extensive “about this brand” information, detailing their bona fides under a “Positive Actions” heading, along with symbols to denote different areas of success, from “Uses Renewable Energy” to “Cruelty-free Materials” to “Employees Are Paid Local Minimum Wage”.
Interestingly, the site has just relaunched and removed its in-house e-commerce element, instead linking shoppers directly to the brand’s own website or another e-store to make the final purchase. “People come to our website primarily for the information and the editorial,” says Verde Nieto. “We’re a pioneer in the realm of sustainable luxury, but we don’t want to be another Net-a-Porter. We want to focus on the stories.”