Chopard Parfums CEO says ensuring sustainability is at the heart of their products is not just an obligation but a commitment
Chopard’s journey of sustainability started with jewellery and is now touching on leather goods and fragrances. Can you explain why this decision was taken?
It all started at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival with the launch of the Green Carpet collection. A world premiere, this new high jewellery collection relied exclusively on Fairmined gold, introducing a new era both for Chopard and for the entire sector.
As a further step, we were proud to be the first watchmaking house to produce a watch in Fairmined gold. Therefore, it was a natural progression to become a sustainable fragrance house too.
Leading the brand at the forefront of luxury natural perfumery and echoing the company’s vision, Chopard Parfums places natural, positive and ethical luxury perfume-making at the heart of its inspiration as a Maison de Parfums. Chopard aims to create exceptional fragrances, rich of the most pristine and premium natural ingredients, in-line with its journey to sustainable luxury.
How does Chopard’s fragrance division connect with the company’s vision for sustainability?
Chopard Parfums’ olfactive and social philosophy are united.
The brand aims to follow the highest standards and champions excellence, nature and positivity – the core values at the very heart of its fragrance universe. Our philosophy of luxury natural ingredients is issued from ethical sourcing and we place the greatest value into our fragrances.
We aim to use traceable luxury natural ingredients issued from sustainable sourcing. By doing that, we wish to support the local farmers and artisans involved in the production of such ingredients, as we have done for the Gardens of the Kings collection.
In order to ensure the alignment with the company’s vision for sustainability, we have engaged in a close collaboration with fragrance house Firmenich, the recognised industry leader in sustainability (EcoVadis Gold Rating), who provides the richest palette of responsibly sourced natural ingredients through the Naturals Together Programme of sustainable excellence.
The Chopard Gardens of the Kings Collection encompasses four fragrances with Oud Assafi, the world’s most precious oud, as the star ingredient. Why is this ingredient chosen?
The Chopard Maison de Parfums is always looking for a perfect blend between excellence, innovation and tradition at the same time.
Originating in the Sylhet region in Bangladesh, oud was born 3,500 years ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the waters of India feed a luxuriant natural realm of tropical forests, rice paddies and green tea plantations. In this region, oud also represents an inheritance and tradition that, for more than four centuries, has stirred the hearts and hands of family producer Jalali Agarwood, an icon of excellence in the Naturals Together Programme of Firmenich.
Today, the seventh generation of Jalali Agarwood is the guardian angel of a secular know-how devoted to responsible arboriculture.
Extracting and distilling Oud Assafi oil of the highest possible level of quality requires great mastery and patience. It takes at least 40 to 50 years for the resin to ripen to perfection.
Oud Assafi was chosen to be the star ingredient as the four perfumes in the collection (Agar Royal, Aigle Impérial, Nuit des Rois and Or de Calambac) whose scents and names reveal the fascination of oud. In creating them, master perfumer Alberto Morillas imagined taking Oud Assafi on an olfactive journey across India, the Far East, the Middle East and South America, blending it with exceptional natural ingredients responsibly sourced from five different continents.
Which of the four fragrances is your favourite?
I’m in love with all of them, but I’m a personal fan of Or de Calambac. For me, it is a physical and intellectual pleasure to smell the opulence and mystery of Middle Eastern royal palaces with the colours, smiles, sounds and lightness of Rio de Janeiro, where Morillas stopped during his journey.
Is it challenging to make sustainable perfumes?
Challenges come with any sustainable project. It takes a longer time to choose ethically sourced ingredients, but working with Firmenich, they completely supported our vision and Morillas immediately fell in love with our brand purpose.
Someone needs to partner with perfumers who share the same goals and are willing to put more effort into it. And product cost of a luxury natural ingredient is higher. But all these challenges totally pay off when the team sees the results.
Will Chopard incorporate more sustainable ingredients into its fragrance collections?
There’s a constant search for ideas, imagination and quality. Therefore, new and innovative natural and sustainable ingredients will always be part of our future agenda.
How is Oud Assafi sourced by Chopard that renders it a sustainable process?
Oud Assafi is ethically and sustainably sourced from the sacred lands of Sylhet – the cradle of Indian oud (Al Hindi) since time immemorial.
Heiress of this material and spiritual treasure, the family perpetuates the Sylheti’s mindful tradition of oud: time-honoured methods passed on from one generation to the next for extracting the purest and most precious oil, distilling only the black parts of the trees in respect of nature’s rhythms, preserving the forests of tomorrow and redistributing wealth throughout the local oud communities.
Each generation works with the fruit of the labour of the generation that precedes it, and its own efforts will benefit the next generation. Aquilaria Malaccensis is a tree that gives full meaning to the notion of time and the heritage to the next generation.
In creating Gardens of the Kings, the Chopard team physically embarked on a journey to the Sylhet lands of Bangladesh to visit Agarwood’s family plantations, to witness first-hand their responsible arboriculture and their unique tradition of distillation, encounter the oud master and the masters to be, and meet the warm-hearted multi-ethnic communities of oud.
A new olfactory and human adventure that supports a unique family know-how, Chopard champions an ethical and respectful approach to people and to the environment and helps the preservation and transmission of the most emblematic and precious olfactory wonder in all of perfumery.
Do you think choosing a sustainable supply chain for fragrance will have an impact on your business model?
Working with a sustainable supply chain means to carefully review many steps and to include additional constraints to the plans. Pragmatically, it means increasing the creation lead-times, integrating some extra costs in the pipeline and constantly monitoring projects developments. It is part of our business model, therefore the only way to correctly pursue our goals.
As CEO, what responsibilities personally do you feel towards contributing to sustainability?
When Caroline Scheufele, owner and co-president of Maison Chopard, initiated the Journey to Sustainable Luxury project in jewelleries and watches, she made clear this was an obligation of the brand to new generations.
That’s exactly the responsibility I feel in doing my part to slightly improve the world. I feel it not just as an obligation but a commitment to creating a better product.
Does Chopard align its goals with those of external environmental agencies?
In our perfume adventure, we made clear from the beginning that our goals are part of a bigger journey.
There are things we were able to do from the beginning and others we need time to accomplish. We did not wait to begin our sustainability journey when it was perfect, but we faced, and continue to face, its imperfections.
An internal team makes sure our goals move in the right direction and we share this with all our business partners, making sure we’re all aligned.
At the beginning, expert organisations helped us set the goals and benchmarked us towards competition. Continuing on our journey, we’ll formalise our path even more, but for the time being we’re committed to transparency.