Zalando invests in new business models and innovations to accelerate circularity in the fashion industry – Retail Times



Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, introduces new business models and practices for circularity throughout the product lifecycle. The effort supports the goal of applying the principles of circularity and extending the lifespan of at least 50 million fashion items by 2023, as outlined in Zalando’s sustainability strategy, Do more. The fashion industry operates in a linear succession: take – make – use – throw away. With its new initiatives, Zalando aims to transition to a circular system, rethinking each stage of the product lifecycle holistically: design and manufacture – use – reuse – complete the loop. From design for circularity via the “redeZIGN for circularity” collection, to the management of repairs, to the constant increase in its Pre-ownership offer, to the development of an open source textile waste management platform within the framework of of the Sorting For Circularity Project with Fashion for good: Zalando’s strategy aims to find answers to all the challenges of the industry involving customers, brands and partners.

“To reduce its negative impact on people and the planet, the fashion industry must evolve towards a circular system. At Zalando, we see this change as a unique opportunity to lead the overhaul of the fashion industry, open up new revenue streams and capitalize on the seismic shifts in consumer behavior that are already underway ”, said Laura Coppen, flyer manager at Zalando. “According to our Attitude-Behavior Gap more than 60% of consumers think it is important that their clothes come back to life rather than going to the landfill. Our goal is to drive behavior change towards circular products and experiences. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are working with key industry players to test and scale new solutions to make it a fully circular business.


At the design stage, Zalando collaborates with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and start-up based in Berlin circular.mode define industry-wide circular product criteria and strengthen the skills of its private label teams on circular design. To enable informed circular choices, Zalando scales the “redeZIGN for circularity”Capsule collection of its private label ZIGN. The 50 items in the collection of textiles, shoes and accessories for men and women include a digital product passport. Via a QR code in the label, customers can go to a product site to find out where the product was made, how to maintain it, repair it, and how to exchange it with Zalando.


From October 11, Zalando will be piloting maintenance and repair services in order to engage with customers after purchase and to support extending the life of customers’ products. Partnership with London-based retail start-up and app Save your wardrobe Zalando now offers quality clothing and footwear maintenance and repair services through selected local studios and tailors to Berlin-based customers via a digital platform. Pickup and return of repaired items will be handled by Zalando Premium Logistics. This service will be rolled out in Düsseldorf shortly thereafter and prospectively extended to other markets.


In order to allow customers to reuse and resell their clothes, Zalando is constantly evolving its Opportunity experience allowing customers to buy or exchange used clothing as new. Since the launch in September 2020, the offer has increased tenfold, from 20,000 to over 200,000 items. Zalando customers in 13 markets appreciate the fast delivery, the high convenience of payment methods and returns, as well as the continuous management of plastic-free packaging.


To increase the current 1% of recycled textiles into new textiles in the industry, Zalando is investing in new recycling technologies. Zalando has just announced his investment in the Infinited Fiber Company textile regeneration technology group, which creates a new high-quality circular textile fiber from textile waste to reduce the global dependence on virgin raw materials. As a member of Sorting project for circularity with Fashion for Good, Zalando is scaling up an open source platform for textile waste management. This project will provide a comprehensive analysis of textile waste using more precise and innovative near infrared technology, while mapping the capabilities of textile recyclers. The research will lead to an open digital platform for matching textile waste from sorters with recyclers, enabling their alignment and building an infrastructure towards greater circularity in the years to come. Zalando is also part of the European edition of acceleration of circularity which brings together brands, retailers, recyclers and downstream product lifecycle sorters to enable them to determine where products end up and how to divert them from landfill.

All of these initiatives will bring Zalando closer to its vision of becoming a sustainable fashion platform with a net positive impact for people and the planet.

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