Zalando Ethical Standards

Find out more about Zalando’s ethical standards for brand partners, our plan to help customers make more sustainable choices, and how brand assessment will help tackle these topics.

As a leading e-commerce player, we have a critical role to play in holding ourselves and our partners accountable to the highest ethical standards. Our responsibility as a platform is also relevant: We can, and should, ask more of our partners, just as they ask more of their supply chains. That is why we committed to continuously increasing our ethical standards and only working with partners who align with them by 2023.

Find out more about our targets and progress here.

Minimum requirements and assessments

We want to make sure that our partners have foundational programs in place to start addressing human rights and social conditions in the supply chain. In addition to agreeing to our Code of Conduct (CoC) and Ethical Sourcing Standards, partners must meet the Zalando Minimum Requirements which include the following: 

Partners must have at least one dedicated employee for overseeing topics related to sustainability, specifically in their supply chain.  Partners must have their own Code of Conduct and communicate this to their suppliers and factories.  Partners must have transparency of at least Tier 1 production sites (names and location of T1 sites: cutting, sewing, stitching, lasting, finishing). 

Our customers increasingly demand more information about the products they buy, as well as the brands that produce these products. We see value in collaborating with other industry leaders to scale a global standard around measurement of brand performance, both in supply chains and at corporate levels. We recognize our position as a platform and in 2020, we made sustainability assessments mandatory for all partners selling on our platform. 

Our strategic partner, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), has led the industry to develop the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM). This helps businesses manage, measure, and share their sustainability progress with value chain partners, consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders. We are aware that every partner is unique, the reason why we will use the Higg BRM for our strategic and biggest partners and a leaner version on the basis of the Higg BRM for the rest of the partners. 

Why we need you

It is widely acknowledged that the fashion industry’s record on human rights, including labor rights and ethical standards, is not good enough. Moreover, the industry’s remediation actions often do not live up to expectations. We want to become part of the solution and collaboration is key to ensuring that change happens all along the supply chain. 

Our goal is to identify areas in which we are struggling as an industry and focus on collective action and impact. By completing the brand assessment you will contribute to the industry’s efforts to move towards a standardized solution to measure sustainability and demonstrate your commitment and impact.

How we will support you

We are following a phased approach and are rolling out the brand assessment step by step, which has to be completed on a yearly basis. If your brand is in scope, we will reach out to you directly. 

To support you along your BRM completion journey we partnered up with Higg Co to provide specific guidance and training. For any content or technical questions related to the Higg BRM, brands are able to contact Higg Co directly to get responses to nuanced inquiries. In situations where the brand is unable to get the details they need, our Sustainability team will be available to support.

Resources and links