Fashion models posing

All brands ‘must be sustainable’ says Zalando

Europe’s largest online-only fashion retailer Zalando has announced that every one of the 2000 fashion brands it sells online will need to prove sustainable practice from 2023.

Each brand will have to submit supply chain information by the 2023 deadline. Those not meeting requirements will have to commit to improvements or stop selling on the site.

The retailer is the first to use updated version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM) assessment tool, created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) a sustainability association for the apparel, footwear and textile industry.

The Higg BRM was created to help drive fashion industry change in sustainable practice at brand level – and provides a comprehensive way to assess performance around parameters such as human rights, fair wages or carbon dioxide emissions. Standardising sustainability in this way means that all brands can be comparable, which should cut down on confusing messages about eco-friendliness and allow the industry to understand where challenges are both individually and collectively.

“Sustainability is a loaded term,” said Kate Heiny, Zalando director of sustainability. “It can be difficult to define and even more difficult to understand. There are hundreds of certificates, labels and initiatives in the market, and the line between where sustainability begins and ends can be blurry. All brands and retailers have their own assessments and different goals. The industry has been missing a common method to measure sustainable performance.”

“For the first time we will have comparable data at brand level to identify improvement areas and work on solutions collaboratively. As part of our sustainability strategy, do.MORE, we have made assessments around ethical and sustainable parameters for our brand partners mandatory. The Higg BRM will help us achieve our goal to continuously increase our ethical standards and by 2023 only work with partners who align with them.”

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