AMF Necessories’ sustainable core strategy. «We create luxury items as a vehicle for giving people a better job, making the air cleaner, and contributing to a better future»
With the rise of interest in product traceability and consciousness, the fashion industry is forced to adapt its strategies to customer demands. With the majority of entry market companies being used to producing after the aspects of capacity, quantity, and pace, their productions add to 195 million tonnes of CO2 and 46 billion m3 use of water.
Calculations have revealed that the wet processing such as dyeing, bleaching, or printing — processes that entail chemicals — contributes to 20 percent of the global freshwater pollution. Expressed in numbers, the industry holds responsibility for 10 percent of the global carbon emissions, which could increase to 26 percent by 2050 if the trajectory would be continued to the current extent. With the community focus transferring to knowledge acquisition and environmental awareness, brands find themselves confronted with existential questions.
What are the necessities a fashion house has to offer? What layers assemble the phrase sustainability, and how can they be incorporated into the brand actions?
The hypernym of sustainability was first construed in 1987 in a report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: ‘Sustainability means being able to satisfy current needs without compromising the possibility for future generations to satisfy their own needs’. The term is supported by a variety of pillars and dimensions, from Environment over Economy to Society. Incorporated in a business, ‘Sustainability’ is framed by transparency, conscious material sourcing, and processing, as well as technology development, facilitating services to follow the market demand while supporting green values.
Setting an example for sustainable action, Gucci launched the project ‘Gucci Art Lab’ in April 2018 — a 37,000 square-meter hub of industrial craftsmanship and a laboratory experimenting with leather goods. The idea behind the concept: prototyping and sampling leather goods and testing materials, packaging, and metal hardware to sharpen control over product development.
Nicole Faerber, daughter of AMF Neccessories founder Andreas Faerber, who is responsible for the company’s VIP Sales and Marketing, recognizes an issue in brands thriving to claim sustainability in a short expenditure of time. She emphasizes, «becoming sustainable is not something that happens from one day to the other. It is an evolution. We are twenty-four years ahead of their development. […] We do not produce items for the Luxury industry. We create luxury items as a vehicle for giving people a better job, making the air cleaner, and contributing to a better future».
AMF Neccessories — Necessary Accessories, pioneered the sustainable production of metal and leather goods since its founding year in 1996. «Our story started in 1996. My father, who founded the company, was looking for a way to support fashion brands from another perspective, by detecting the most polluting steps of the production processes and building a supply chain of accessories, characterized by the factor of traceability», underlines Faerber. «We cannot produce natural resources, but we can invent ways to use them better. This is why we optimize our consumption of energy, raw materials, air, and water».
Working with a number of luxury fashion houses, AMF Neccessories produces metal and non-metal accessories for garments, shoes, and leather goods and is specialized in developing technical targeted solutions. Their approach, based on the four pillars of Quality, Creativity, Services, and Sustainability, enables the company to manage every step of the life cycle of a product – Starting with the engineering of the accessory, the production of molds, die sets, and production tools, to the surface treatments.
Apart from producing accessories such as studs and rivets, eyelets, buttons, labels and patches, zip pullers or buckles — assembled by the in-house R&D team made of stylists, designers, chemists, and technicians –, AMF executes tests in the A.M.F. Lab for the chemical and physical analysis of prototypes, enabling them to micro-track their quality, durability, and sustainability.
«We ensure the product’s durability through testing the metals and leathers in our laboratories. We are able to perform almost all the chemical tests required by regulations on metal and leather accessories. All tests simulate the excessive user. We put the products in the ovens to check the synthetic sweat. The transports of products from Europe to our laboratories in Asia enable us to check if the sulfur impacts the equipment’s surfaces».
The company discloses a turnover of 55 million and a team of 350 people spread over the laboratories in Europe and Asia and is a leading force in the sustainable production and recycling market. Through the development of the A.M.F Lab, AMF Necessories was able to test materials used in the industry and examine each step of the production process to ensure safety and quality. The tests included analyzing materials and products on Nickel Release, total metal content, PH, or Formaldehyde.
Working with company suppliers allowed them to improve and develop materials and align them with sustainable guidelines. To certify their metals’ quality and sustainability as the only global player, AMF has developed the program ‘Obviously-Eco’.
«There are ODITS that check the businesses surface. They never try to probe into the root. They do not ask ‘How many people working here have a license to manage chemicals’?». She continues, «We recycle 30,000 kilograms of metal per year, meaning that we do not produce waste in terms of metal resources used. Our technologies, such as the Galvanic plants, clean the air and water, utilized during the production processes. We recycle 100,000 liters of water every day. We have been asked to analyze the production process of institutions such as the Camera Della Moda to certify their products. We are in the backstage of many».
Companies utilize galvanic plating processes to coat their metal products. These procedures involve chemicals that pollute the waters used during the coating steps. «Many of the plants are located next to rivers as they discharge water and source water from the river. This open-water circuit is not sustainable. Water is crucial in the galvanic process, and recycling our duty. A plant of this size needs 150000 liters of cleansing water per month. […] The water from our Galvanic plants never leaves. The recycling mechanisms ensure zero discharge and the closed water circuit annihilates the environmental risks related to the transport of dangerous substances. In blue coating, we reuse more than 95% of it, thanks to a purification system».
With their automatized Galvanic plants, operated by machines, AMF separates its employees from the production phases during which chemicals could occur — from the degreasing and washing steps to the surface treatments and the drying. If chemicals are being detected, the laboratories work on alternatives to avoid them. Parts of the 1000 meters square plant are being used for water recycling and air purification processes.
«There is one right way to make products: respecting the people who make them. The people working in the laboratories ensure that everything is working, but they are never involved during the process».
A list of target chemicals is being updated according to research, technologies, and international regulations, becoming a key source of information on sustainability for a variety of players on the market.
The topic of energy efficiency is being achieved through the recycling of thermal energy. Photovoltaic plants produce organic paint. AMF’s black organic paint scrubbers ensure that the solvents used during the process are cleaned and clean air released through the chimneys.
Faerber sees the path of acquiring knowledge through the factor of traceability as the industry’s future. «A.M.F is certified ISO9001 since 2004, and we are working on an environmental certification. We invite clients and environmental organizations to visit our production sites. We do this to guarantee the transparency of our processes and collaborate to achieve improvement».
The glass fronts built into the AMF Galvanic plants enable bystanders and visitors to observe the production processes and push consumers towards consciousness and an interest in the companies’ backstages. «I believe that the young generation is more interested in what the product represents than what the product is in itself. If the choice would be in the hands of the population, things were better than in the hands of fewer people».
The changes through Covid-19 would further contribute to a shift in consumption priorities. «It will change the way we purchase — consumerism is now related to the online rather than the physical experience — and will shift company focusses to creativity, smaller collections, and clear communication with the customer». She adds. «Businesses now need to partner with competitors and other brands to implement sustainability in their strategies. We just continue our way».