“It was essential for us to ensure that the sourcing of our cashmere  corresponded to our values and standards”

Interview With Helene Jessua, Sustainability Director at Zadig&Voltaire

The Parisian effortless luxury brand Zadig&Voltaire features cashmere knitwear as key products in its collections. To fulfil its ambition of making them from sustainable cashmere, the brand became a partner of The Good Cashmere Standard in 2021. This partnership is embedded in VoltAIRe, its global transformation programme for greater sustainability, which falls under Helene Jessua’s purview as the company’s sustainability director. In this interview, she discusses what the brand aims to achieve through the programme and what issues, apart from animal welfare, matter most in the cashmere industry.

Helene Jessua, Sustainability Director at Zadig&Voltaire

Through its VoltAIRe programme, Zadig&Voltaire has set comprehensive sustainability goals for itself. What motivated you to take this step?

Sustainability has been included in the strategic priorities of the group’s transformation plan for 2025. As such, it was important to formalise our sustainability approach, which we did by launching the VoltAIRe programme. This also involved setting concrete targets to reach by 2025 for each of the pillars, in addition to our global climate target for 2030. Our objectives—to be using only certified key raw materials or to ensure that 100 percent of our products are traceable by 2025—clearly demonstrate our ambition.

What do you aim to achieve through the VoltAIRe programme?

The programme seeks to help fight climate change and air pollution through all our activities. To achieve our aim of reducing our carbon footprint in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s objective of 1.5 degrees Celsius, we are mobilising all departments of Zadig&Voltaire—from product sourcing and development to production, logistics, and retail—in support of the project.

VoltAIRe also represents the concrete application of Zadig&Voltaire’s vision of luxury products. It formalises the brand’s commitment to developing sustainable products that last a long time and are manufactured in line with its values and standards regarding respect for humans, animals, and ecosystems.

The VoltAIRe programme is based on four pillars: sustainable products and packaging, climate and clean air in operations, made in respect, and collective commitment. Each pillar addresses strategic topics and includes concrete and measurable objectives, and the pillars are designed to work together to achieve our ambitions.

What do you mean by the slogan, “Made in VoltAIRe Respect”, which we can see on some of your products?

“Made In VoltAIRe Respect” (MIVR) is a logo that we launched in 2022 to help our teams as well as our customers to better identify the products that embody our sustainability approach and the transformation in progress. The MIVR logo has already been added to the care labels and online product sheets for the relevant products, and it will be deployed on hangtags for the Fall/Winter 2023 collection.

To be marked MIVR, a product must meet certain specifications, such as being a certified finished product or being made from at least 90 percent certified or low-impact fibres. Zadig&Voltaire is deploying a certification strategy with the objective of having 100 percent of its key raw materials certified by 2025. To go even further, we also wanted to scale up the development of certified finished products. With this aim, Made In VoltAIRe Respect includes products made from GCS-certified cashmere. In addition, Zadig&Voltaire has been certified under the GOTS, OCS, GRS, and RWS standards since 2021 and is encouraging its suppliers to also take this path. As a result, 70 percent of the jersey textiles in the Spring/Summer 2023 collection are certified organic.

Why did you opt for GCS? How does the partnership with GCS meet your needs?

Besides being a key raw material for our collections, cashmere is part of Zadig&Voltaire’s DNA. Thus, it was essential for us to ensure that the sourcing of our cashmere corresponded to our values and standards and to participate in an initiative aimed at developing a sustainable cashmere industry. We felt that The Good Cashmere Standard was the right initiative due to its robustness, its expertise in animal welfare, and its ecosystem, which is strong enough to enable improvements. Zadig&Voltaire is really proud to be a member and a partner of The Good Cashmere Standard. To clarify the importance of our commitment, 100 percent of the cashmere currently being used in our virgin cashmere knitwear collections is sourced from GCS farms, which was an important step for us. This approach has also been an opportunity for us to bring our suppliers on board and to strengthen our traceability approach.

What, in your opinion, is the next challenge for the cashmere industry?

Beyond the basic challenge of animal welfare, our collective challenge is now to work on reducing the environmental footprint of cashmere production as well. In addition to ensuring that the GCS standard is aligned with this ambition, we need to take the opportunity to partner with some of the many brands, farms, and other stakeholders gathered within GCS, to measure the impact of GCS cashmere production and to launch joint pilot projects in fields like regenerative agriculture.

At Zadig&Voltaire, we are convinced that being able to reduce the environmental impact of cashmere production is key to ensuring the sustainability of this industry in the medium and long terms.

Get in touch with us
E-mail address: gcs@abt-foundation.org Telephone: 040 – 25 76 755 – 0