Zalando wants its customers to throw fewer items of clothing in the bin. Hence, the company invests in various circular initiatives, such as repair services and a platform for textile waste.
Transition to circularity
Zalando has set the goal of extending the life span of at least fifty million pieces of clothing by 2023. The German fashion platform thus wants to contribute to more circularity within the fashion industry, whereby the current linear chain of making, using and discarding becomes a circular movement with the idea of reusing replacing discarding.
However, each step of the cycle must be reconsidered to achieve this. For instance, clothes need to be designed differently, waste has to be recycled better, and the production chain has to be made more transparent. That is why Zalando is now also investing in various new business models and sustainable innovations.
Back to the drawing board
In the design phase, the fashion retailer aims to define circular product criteria for the entire industry. Also, it wants to expand the circular offer within its own private label ZIGN. The special collection "redeZIGN for circularity" will be expanded from five to fifty items. Each product comes with an information page, where customers can find out more about the origin, maintenance and how the item can be exchanged at Zalando.
Within the usage phase, a pilot project will start with maintenance and repair services from 11 October. In cooperation with the retail app Save Your Wardrobe, Zalando offers customers a digital platform through which they can repair clothes and shoes. Consumers can go to selected local workshops and tailors for this, but the collection and return of repaired items is handled by Zalando's own logistics service. The service is launched in Berlin and Düsseldorf, with more markets to follow in the future.
Distinguish waste better
In the meantime, Zalando also continues to focus on second-hand. Since the launch of the second-hand section Pre-owned in September 2020, the range has increased tenfold from 20,000 to more than 200,000 articles. "According to our Attitude-Behavior Gap report, more than 60 % of consumers think it is important their clothes get a second life and do not end up in landfills", says Sustainability Manager Laura Coppen. "We don't have all the answers yet, but we are working with key innovators in the industry to test and scale up new solutions to transition to a fully circular business model."
To close the loop, Zalando is investing in recycling technologies. According to the platform, only 1 % of the total amount of clothing gets currently recycled. An open-source platform for textile waste management in cooperation with Fashion for Good should change this: thanks to Near Infrared (NIR) technology, textile waste at sorting companies will better match the right recyclers. The company recently announced that it is also investing in Infinited Fiber Company, which produces a new fibre from textile waste.