Zalando Brings Fashion Industry and Consumers Together to Close the Sustainability Attitude-Behavior Gap in Fashion

  • Zalando publishes report sharing consumer insights and recommendations on how to close the sustainability attitude-behavior gap in fashion
  • To enable customers to keep sustainability in mind, Zalando launches value-based browsing experience 
  • Zalando further invests in Pre-owned by expanding the offer to Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden


BERLIN, APRIL 20, 2021 // Today, Zalando, Europe's leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle,  publishes the report: “It Takes Two: How the Industry and Consumers Can Close the Sustainability ‘Attitude-Behavior Gap’ in Fashion.” The report investigates the gap between attitudes and behaviors. It shows that many consumers struggle to turn their sustainability priorities into fashion purchasing decisions. It also provides clear recommendations on how to collaboratively close this gap. In response to the findings and recommendations, Zalando launches a new experience in the fashion store enabling customers to browse the more sustainable fashion assortment according to the values they care about. Further, Zalando continues to invest into its Pre-owned offer, enabling customers in seven additional markets to trade in and buy pre-owned fashion.

Based on consumer research carried out in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK, the report finds that for the fashion industry there is a need to make sustainable choices more attractive, realistic, and accessible [1]. Consumers, meanwhile, need to prioritize sustainability in fashion as much as in other parts of their lives. 

Zalando co-CEO, David Schneider says, “We aim for 25% of our GMV to come from more sustainable products by 2023. During the coronavirus crisis, customers told us that shopping sustainably became more important to them than ever before. But when we asked them how they felt about sustainable fashion, the strongest association was ‘guilt’ and the weakest was ‘fun’. If, as an industry, we’re serious about sustainability, we need to fix this dissonance now to build a stronger future for fashion.”

The “It Takes Two” report gives 10 recommendations that can support fashion companies in helping to close the attitude-behavior gap. The report points to three key priorities that need to be accelerated. First, the fashion industry must earn trust through simple and convincing communication, secondly, it must motivate changes in behavior, and thirdly, it must scale circularity and offer solutions to close the loop.

Kate Heiny, Director Sustainability at Zalando, elaborates, “Our customers tell us that they care deeply about sustainability, but they struggle to translate their values into actions when they go into stores or shop online. Our role as a platform is to enable ourselves, our brand partners, and our customers to make more sustainable choices, inspire collaborative action and long-lasting change. That’s why we produced this report, which we can all learn from: Zalando, the fashion industry, and consumers. This report brought us to the conclusion that if we really want to close the long-existing attitude-behavior gap in fashion, collaboration is the only way forward. We have to come together; the fashion industry and our consumers.”

Zalando aims to lead by example and has already implemented one of the report’s recommendations: “Speak a sustainability language everyone can understand.” The recommendation is based on the finding that every second consumer doesn’t understand what sustainability means in a fashion context. Through a new experience in the fashion store customers are now able to browse based on the values they care about, such as water conservation, worker wellbeing, reusing materials, animal welfare, reducing emissions, and extending the life of fashion. In 2018, Zalando had already started flagging products that are made from more sustainable materials or production practices with its sustainability flag. Today, this more sustainable assortment consists of over 80,000 articles from more than 500 brands. With the launch of this new browsing experience, Zalando takes a step further in the platform’s quest to help customers better understand sustainable fashion and make more informed fashion choices. 

Besides recommendations for the fashion industry, the report also contains suggestions that may help consumers embrace sustainability in their fashion decisions. The report predicts that consumers will focus more on circularity in fashion over the next decade, including multiple topics such as recycling, reuse, resale, repair, and rentals. One step Zalando is taking to cater to this growing customer interest is to roll out the Pre-owned offer to 7 additional markets. From April 22 onwards, customers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden will be able to quickly and effortlessly trade in and buy pre-owned fashion directly on Zalando with the same convenience in shipping, payment, and returns known to Zalando’s customers. 

[1] Interviews carried out with 2,500 consumers in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK in the first quarter of 2020.

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About Zalando

Zalando is Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008, we bring head-to-toe fashion to more than 46 million active customers in 23 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty. The assortment of international brands ranges from world famous names to local labels. Our platform is a one-stop fashion destination for inspiration, innovation, and interaction. As Europe’s most fashionable tech company, we work hard to find digital solutions for every aspect of the fashion journey: for our customers, partners and every valuable player in the Zalando story. Our vision is to be the Starting Point for Fashion and a sustainable platform with a net-positive impact for people and the planet.

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