Zalora chooses Fashion Revolution Week to announce its shiny new sustainability strategy, but just how green is it really? And how do other fast fashion brands stack up? Here’s the skinny.
Sustainability is becoming the hottest trend in fashion. This is mainly due to consumers becoming increasingly savvy as they learn more about the damaging environmental and social impacts of the industry and start pressing for change. And movements like Fashion Revolution Week are mobilising consumers through social and digital activism.
In recent years, we’ve seen large global fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Mango create sustainable collections and become increasingly transparent about their supply chains and workforce (although make no mistake; green-washing is still rife).
And in Southeast Asia, Zalora is one of the biggest players in the fast fashion game. So how does it stack up on the sustainability front? This week Zalora has announced it is “the first fashion e-commerce player to establish a comprehensive plan to make a positive change, by taking accountability for its own environmental impact and inspiring its customers to shop in a more conscious way.” And it’s chosen Fashion Revolution Week to announce its comprehensive plan.
So what is Zalora’s shiny new sustainability strategy?
The journey towards a better future for Zalora is a strategy based around four key pillars, involving all stakeholders and relating to all aspects of its business. The pillars are; environmental footprint, sustainable consumption, ethical sourcing, and responsible workplace & community engagement.
The clear roadmap presented by the company aims to achieve the following three core goals by 2025:
– Reduction of plastic packaging volume by 40% and incorporating sustainable materials
– Zalora’s warehouses to be powered in 80% by renewable energy
– 100% offset of carbon emissions from their operations and transport
The brand has also taken steps to support the circular economy by partnering with Style Tribute and allowing Zalora’s customers to purchase preloved luxury items on its website and mobile app. As a next step, Zalora commits to evaluating options for allowing its customers to resell items purchased on the platform.
Our opinion? It’s a good start with realistic targets. But we hope it doesn’t stop here. Because as of now there’s no goal to reduce the amount of stuff it’s making. Offsets aren’t the best solution to lowering its carbon footprint. And above all, how much is it paying its garment workers?
What about the other fast fashion giants?
Generally speaking, the bigger the company, the bigger the issue with sustainability. Unfortunately, in our capitalistic economy, the traditional focus of a business is profit. Any underlying issues ignored for many years become increasingly complex and harder to solve. So however fast fashion companies try to improve, it will be a long and winding road. We wrote an article explaining the issues with the fashion industry here and more recently shed light on the terrifying implications of COVID-19 on the fashion supply chain taking a toll on those most vulnerable here.
What’s the Fashion Transparency Index 2020?
The Fashion Revolution movement has created the Fashion Transparency Index to generate accountability for the fashion industry supply chain more broadly. This year, 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers have been reviewed and ranked. H&M took the top spot with a score of 73% of disclosure on topics such as social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts. But note this doesn’t mean H&M is the most sustainable brand. It just means it is transparent about its practices. Although Fashion Revolution recorded quite a few improvements, overall, more than 50% of brands and retailers still lack transparency on social and environmental issues. You can download a copy of the full report here.
So we’ve got the answer to our question – most big fashion brands will need more time to truly go green, but our planet’s clock is ticking. In the meantime, we’ll continue to champion conscious brands like Sans Faff, Acqulior, Source Collection and our other member brands you can explore via our marketplace. These are the businesses striving to get things right the first time, environmentally and socially.