ZARA GOES GREEN
Indeed Inditex frames the collection against a broader philosophy it calls “Right to Wear,” an “ambition and everyday reality” that is further subdivided into specialist schemes invoking standards of health and safety (“Safe to Wear”), human and labor rights (“Tested to Wear”), and environmentally friendliness (“Green to Wear”).
“Join Life” is part of a larger push by Inditex to endear itself to growing consumer demand for ethically produced products with pocketbook appeal.
“Sustainability forms the basis of all our decisions,” Inditex writes on its website. “It is ever-present in all our processes, inspired by our commitment to selling ethical, safe and community- and environmentally-friendly products.”
The “Right to Wear” model, it adds, runs through every “Join Life” product, which must comply with certain internal criteria regarding raw materials and “best technologies,” such as ozone bleaching for denim and cold pad-batch dyeing.
There are other ways Inditex—and by extension, Zara—are cribbing from H&M’s sustainability playbook.
“Join Life” launches mere months after the firm outlined a number of initiatives to “close the loop” on textiles, including the installation of clothing collection boxes in hundreds of locations across Europe and, at a later date, Asia and North America.
Over the longer haul, Inditex is working with Lenzing, the Austrian textile producer behind Tencel, to turn hundreds of tons of its fabric waste into premium raw materials.
And no less than Greenpeace lauded the company for leading the industry toward a “toxic-free future with credible timelines, concrete actions, and on-the-ground implementation.”
But just like H&M, Zara will not be immune to accusations of “greenwashing.”
“Sustainable” becomes a debatable term when you’re unleashing 1,177,784,343 units of clothing into the world in a single year.
Textile recycling isn’t as effortless as some retailers would have you believe, either. We’re still struggling to separate polyester-cotton blends and their chimeric ilk into their base components. And, let’s be honest, there’s something Sisyphean about spending months, perhaps even years, trying to rein in what you’re dispatching by the hour and, in all likelihood, by exploiting the global economy’s most disenfranchised workers.
Inditex’s recent decisions are all well and good, and indubitably better than doing nothing. But until retailers address the issues of high turnover rates, aggressive expansion, and overconsumption, we’re still a long way from licking the problem of fast fashion.