As the Starting Point for Fashion, Zalando is the ultimate platform for choice and change. With 28 million customers in 17 markets and more than 2,000 brand partners, our scale and technology help us take the lead in building the connections needed to transform the industry. That’s why we’re introducing our customers to sustainable fashion, working with partners who share our vision and ethics, and doing more to move the industry forward every day.
For a customer-centric company like Zalando, the immediate significance is clear; we must not only make our own business better, but also serve the customer need. Our customer base is calling for more sustainable choices in fashion. Therefore, as a first step, Zalando introduced a “sustainability” flag in 2016 to highlight products with a sustainability benefit, and is growing its more sustainable fashion assortment every year. The current assortment consists of over 20,000 articles. To be able to highlight more products with a sustainability benefit to our customers, we added seven new sustainability labels to the Fashion Store, including more environmentally-friendly materials and processes, and third-party standards such as the Responsible Down Standard, the Responsible Wool Standard and the Leather Working Group, enabling us to flag leather shoes with less resource-intensive processing techniques with “sustainability” for the first time.
Sustainability related search terms increased by 66% over the last year. Two in three consumers think brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy. To serve this growing need and react to customer demand, we want to make it easy for customers to shop the way they want to: sustainably. We want to ensure our customers have the product, inspiration and information they are looking for; all in one place.
Zalando highlights products with the Sustainability Flag when they meet one of our sustainability criteria, which cover social, environmental and animal welfare standards. Customers can then see which benefit the flag is based on; either from a third-party or one of Zalando’s own attributes in the product detail page. To help our customers make informed choices, we recently launched an updated version of our Sustainability Hub, which answers key questions about sustainable fashion and gives an overview of all our sustainability criteria.
To discover our sustainability assortment, customers can currently browse through the catalog, use the sustainability filter or search for more sustainable products in the search bar. We already display trusted third-party certifications such as Fairtrade Cotton and the Global Organic Textile Standard, and are continually expanding our offer across more product groups by adding new criteria. We recently added animal welfare certifications, such as the Responsible Wool Standard and Responsible Down Standard, and now highlight more sustainably processed leather from responsible leather manufacturers that have been audited and assessed through the Leather Working Group protocol.
Not all brands are certified to third-party standards due to reasons such as cost, time and complexity in their supply chains. However, we want to encourage the adoption of more sustainable practices across the industry, which is why we also offer a range of general attributes, so-called “Zalando labels” in addition to third-party certifications, which highlight products using more environmentally-friendly materials or processes that use less water, energy or chemicals. For example, our Zalando label "Eco Material" highlights products made of at least 50% more sustainable materials like Tencel™, lyocell, and hemp, which are based on third-party guidelines and verified life cycle assessment data such as Textile Exchange's Preferred Fibers Report, MADE BY's Environmental Fiber Benchmark and the Materials Sustainability Index developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
Sustainability is a complex, varied topic, but flagging more sustainable items is a strong step in the right direction of supporting customers in making more conscious choices. Sara Diez, Vice President Womenswear at Zalando: “We're exploring ways to make sustainability information accessible, meaningful and comparable, so that our customers can easily understand, spot and shop more sustainable fashion. In the past five months, we have managed to grow the number of flagged articles by 65% to now over 20,000 items and onboarded seven new sustainability labels and third-party certifications, including new additions such as recycled materials and more environmentally-friendly leather processing. However, we’re still at the beginning of an industry-wide journey. We partner with many brands that put sustainability at the heart of their business and are constantly expanding our assortment with new additions like Hash#TAG Sustainable and Underprotection.”