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Zalando becomes first retailer to demand partner brands measure their sustainability

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Zalando has become the first retailer to make it compulsory for brands selling via its platform to measure how sustainable their businesses are.

The Berlin-based retailer and marketplace will require that all brands selling via its site the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) updated version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module to measure the environment and social impacts of their business and submit data to it. That data will be used to help Zalando understand trends and develop solutions aimed at improving the business. By 2023 it aims to work only with partners who meet its ethical standards.

Kate Heiny, director, sustainability, at Zalando said: “As Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, we want to raise the bar, act first and bring our partners on the journey to address today’s most important issues: climate change, use of resources and worker rights. 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.”

She added: “For the first time we will have comparable data at brand level to identify improvement areas and work on solutions collaboratively.”

The Higgs BRM was developed in order to help businesses define true sustainability in a market where there are many different ways of measuring standards. Technology company HiggCo was spun out of the SAC in 2019 to address this issue. Sustainable Apparel Coalition executive director Amina Razvi said: “Zalando’s decision to require its partner brands to use the Higg BRM will serve as a catalyst for bringing the industry together towards a standard system for sustainability measurement. This is how we can implement and achieve lasting change.”

SupplyCompass co-founder Flora Davidson said: “Every part of the fashion industry – brands, multi-brand retailers, manufacturers, tech companies, investors, consumers, and policy makers – all have an equally important role to play in the transformation of the industry into a more sustainable one. Analogue, fragmented systems and a lack of transparency and accountability has made this challenging until now.  

“This is an important partnership that hopefully signifies a shift for the fashion industry; one that really needs a standardised way of assessing, rating and communicating sustainability performance. This is paving the way for a new way of working that is centred around openness, cross-industry collaborations, and adoption of new technologies that place data at the heart.”

Image courtesy of Zalando

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