72 hours. That’s how long it took LVMH, the French multinational corporation and conglomerate owning Christian Dior, Givenchy, Fendi, Celine, and other luxury designers, to transform their perfume manufacturing to be suited for the production of hand sanitizer. In doing so, they began to redefine the moral obligation of luxury designers.
In the wake of COVID-19, the demand for hand sanitizer has well exceeded its supply. French hospitals, in particular, have struggled to have adequate amounts of hand sanitizer so that they can maintain proper cleanliness when treating the many COVID-19 patients. LVMH was able to make this challenging transition so quickly due to the fact that they own their factories and thus are not dependent on the pace of a separate manufacturer. This incredible, albeit temporary, LVMH factory conversion is something very few other luxury designers have ever done. By converting the Christian Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy facilities to produce hand sanitizer, and then donating it to the aforementioned hospitals, LVMH has received the attention and awe of both the fashion world as well as the larger global community.
Not only have they responded to a very real and very urgent hand sanitizer shortage, but LVMH has also remodeled itself as being focused on the well-being of the public. In fact, the hand sanitizer that has been manufactured for donation is not branded, indicating a potential shift in the world of fashion, away from strictly selling luxurious products to high-end consumers. We are used to seeing very explicit and attractive branding by such designers, and thus their nameless hand sanitizer is new and surprising. Simply by removing a name from a label, LVMH has made a clear statement that sales and profits are not their only goals. By being a leader from which other luxury designers can follow, LVMH is bringing purpose and moral standing to the brand whose luxe perfume is adored by celebrities like Charlize Theron as much as the rest of us.
From an earnings perspective, perfumes and cosmetics represent a smaller section of LVMH’s divisions – representing 12% of revenue and 5% of profit for the company. However, by keeping these factories open, even if only for hand sanitizer production, they have been able to justify retaining employees. Profits for companies across the world are falling in response to the current global pandemic, but opportunities for donations and generosity are in abundance. If there is ever a chance to demonstrate that profits are not the sole goal of a business, the current global pandemic is one. That is exactly what LVMH is doing.
By jumping on a chance to make a real difference in their community, LVMH has maintained their relevance in the fashion industry during this period of uncertainty. As if their hand sanitizer production wasn’t enough, LVMH has recently initiated the production process for face masks and gowns for hospital staff in France. LVMH is a beloved, powerful, and inspiring fashion force that shows no signs of stopping. And we are totally here for that.