There’s no question that clothing and accessories retailer Zara is a force to be reckoned with. What started as a single store in Spain has since grown to become a name known around the globe, and is now the main brand of Inditex, the largest apparel retailer in the world.
With great power comes great responsibility, however, and it’s probably news to no one by now that one of the biggest names in retail has majorly dropped the ball, to put it very lightly, in terms of making ethical choices when it comes to their business practices. With multiple discoveries of overworked laborers, including children, being forced to work and live in sweatshop conditions in both Argentina and India, and the theft of design and intellectual property from small, independent artists for its own use, the brand has clearly risen to power by exploiting the efforts of those less powerful.
That being said, the company is looking to make some major changes.
In September of this year, the retail giant has made a small step in the right direction with the release of its brand new sustainable collection named #JoinLife, which “embraces a woman who looks into a more sustainable future.”
Creating contemporary looks with materials such as organic cotton, recycled wool, and Tencel, a sustainable fabric created from wood cellulose, the items featured in the collection are created to keep the impact of the environment, and your bank account, as low as possible, sticking with Zara’s usual price point.
In an effort to possibly amend the wrongs made by adapting to the fast-fashion model (Zara created over one billion units in a single year - hardly an environmentally friendly deed as most of those materials likely ended up in a landfill,) the company is encouraging its shoppers to recycle any unwanted clothing in containers located within their storefront locations, 50% of which are said to be eco-efficient to reduce both energy and CO2 emissions.
While it may be “too little, too late” for some, the truly promising aspect of Zara’s step toward sustainable practices lies within its parent company, Inditex, who has strengthened its commitment to sustainability and change on a global level by adhering to the 17 Sustainable Goals created by the United Nations, according to their 2015 annual report. Zara is also taking steps to make their supplier chain a bit more transparent, in addition to working with various organizations to “protect workers’ labor rights and to care for the environment.”
Efforts to take any business practices in a more sustainable direction are always worth respecting. It may not make up for any past wrongdoing, but it’s a step in the right direction, and one that we hope will work out for the best, possibly even encouraging other fast-fashion retailers to follow suit, improving the conditions of the world we live in, and the people we share it with, one purchase at a time.
article written by Kristin Howard