The Brands Tackling Sustainability

The issue of of fast fashion and sustainable shopping has long been discussed but it is only in recent years that brands are beginning to take notice and realize that in order to be attractive to the millennial consumer they must be seen not only take a stand against fast fashion but also make a conscious effort to change.

The issue of sustainability in fashion can be seen as an elitist issue, with many of the sustainable brands such as Veja, Everlane & reformation, having a higher price point  than the average consumer can afford.

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To combat this, high street stores’ need to begin to tackle the issue from within making responsible shopping and sustainability available for all. In recent weeks we have seen brands such as Zara, Nike, Adidas and ASOS beginning to do this and there is no doubt in my mind that others will begin to follow suit.

But are these brands strategic in their sustainability plans? or is it simply a PR push? A ‘tick the box’ exercise to be able to tell their stakeholders they are taking action without really moving the needle? One retailer Zara has already been criticized for its seemingly vague and non-committal sustainability plan.

For years Zara has been popular because of its ability to get looks from the catwalk to the shop floor in a matter of weeks. The retailer churns out an average of 500 new designs each week and 20,000 designs each year. Inditex, Zara’s $29 billion parent company, is trying to change its fast fashion reputation as it unveiled a new sustainability plan which includes all eight of its brands.

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Inditex’s plan includes:

  • That by 2025, the company pledges that all of the cotton, linen and polyester used across the company will be organic, sustainable or recycled.
  • Inditex pledges to invest in developing new recycling technologies. (The retailer currently collects used garments in 1.382 stores across 24 markets).
  • It will cut out all single-use plastics from all sales by 2023 (which means both plastic bags in stores and the thin plastic bags that are used for online orders).
  • It plans to shift 80% of its energy to renewable sources across its stores, logistics centers, and offices.

This month another major fashion brand, Nike stepped out with a new initiative to do away with all virgin polyester (plastic fiber) in its products by 2024, with competitor Adidas coming out with a similar promise a few weeks later.

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Online retailer Asos revealed two new features on their website to promote sustainable shopping. Now, when browsing for clothes on ASOS you can filter your choices down to ‘sustainable materials’ . Using this so called ‘responsible’ filter, you can choose either to browse ‘recycled’ clothing/accessories or those made from ‘sustainable materials’.

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While it is important for these brands to be seen to take a hard line on the issue and promote sustainable fashion, it is up to us the consumers to ensure they keep their promises.

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