As more and more high street brands release their kinder to nature collections, it is hardly a shock that Zara is the brand of the moment. Their new "Join Life" collection "embraces a woman who looks into a more sustainable future,". It is made up of lower-impact textiles such as organic cotton, recycled wool, and Tencel, a wood-pulp-based fiber sourced from sustainably managed forests.
I have to admit, their clean cut, menswear-inspired shoot almost caught me for a minute, the clothing looks fantastic and the information is convincing.
Featuring sculptural silhouettes and a 'mineral' colour palette, "Join Life" is part of a bigger picture movement by Inditex, the parent company (that also owns Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti & Bershka) to appeal to evolving consumers demand for ethically sourced and produced products.
Inditex talks a lot on its website about sustainability "Sustainability forms the basis of all our business decisions. We strive to offer our customers safe and ethical products that are made in ways that respect the environment and broader society".
You can't knock them for trying.
“Join Life” has launched months after the Inditex outlined a number of goals to “close the loop” on textiles, which you can read more about here.
Also, on the Zara site along with the "Join Life" collection, there are different sustainable talking points regarding the brand (it is the biggest of the Inditex family), including:
"Boxes with a Past" - 'The cardboard boxes that arrive in our stores are used up to 5 times before being recycled. They pass through our suppliers, distribution centres and central warehouses before arriving at our stores. Once there, they are reused while they are still in good condition for transporting clothes and store materials. When they can no longer be reused, we recycle them and transform them into new cardboard. With this recycled cardboard we have started to produce new boxes that we use to send our online orders.'
Who can argue? It is definitely better than the packaging you often see that is triple wrapped plastic.
"Clothes collecting" - 'Bring the clothes you no longer wear and put them in the containers in our stores You can currently find over 300 containers in Spain, Portugal, and in selected stores in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Sweden and Denmark. We will increase the number of drop-off points in these countries over the year, and we will begin to set up collection points in our stores in China. In 2017, we will set up containers in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, the USA, Russia, Korea and Australia, and we will continue working so that in the next three years you will be able to donate clothes you wish to recycle in any of our stores worldwide. All clothing collected in our stores is given directly to Cáritas, the Red Cross and Oxfam, where they will sort through and classify each item of clothing according to its most suitable use.'
It is a great concept and maybe 20 years ago it would have been innovative, but as fast fashion grows, donating clothing is no longer enough (read more here).
"Green Web" - '100% of the energy that we consume at the zara.com facilities comes from renewable sources. Furthermore, during 2015 we generated 1.100.000 kWh of wind energy, 19.913 kWh of solar energy and 889.955 kWh of geothermal energy. We are committed to investing in new renewable energy generating plants for our central offices. Our goal is for our website to be free of CO2 emissions by 2018.'
This is my favourite movement, clean energy is such a current issue and is so easily adaptable for big corporations, so you have to applaud them for these goals.
And... Greenpeace recently praised the company for leading the fashion industry toward a “toxic-free future with credible timelines, concrete actions, and on-the-ground implementation.” in the third edition of it's Detox Catwalk.
But this does not make Inditex or Zara an angel or beacon of light.
When the company is unleashing 1,177,784,343 units of clothing into the world in a single year, we have to question how it is the leader of sustainable fashion according to possibly the worlds biggest non-governmental environmental organization.
Is this the best we can do? Surely we can all push for more ethical and sustainable practices, we can not just settle for renewable energy, reused cardboard and charity donations alongside even more collections of clothing that are little more gentle in fabric combination.
Inditex’s recent decisions are all well and good, far better than doing nothing and somewhat innovative, but we are yet to see retailers address the issue of overconsumption, the unexplainable growth of fast fashion and the potential solutions that benefit everyone, profits aside.
Question everything, do not be fooled by the propaganda and always remember to put your money where your mouth is, we can all make a difference.
“We are so entrenched in consumerism we cannot even see it”