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Zalando invests in business models and innovations to further circularity

By Rachel Douglass

Oct 5, 2021

Business

Image: Zalando

European e-commerce platform Zalando has announced plans to introduce new business models and initiatives as part of the retailer’s goal to increase the company’s circularity throughout its product life cycles.

“To reduce its negative impact on people and the planet, the fashion industry needs to move to a circular system,” explained Zalando’s head of circularity, Laura Coppen, in a statement. “At Zalando, we see this shift as a unique opportunity to lead the way in changing the fashion industry, adopting new revenue streams to drill and respond to the major shifts in consumer behaviour that are already underway.”

Strategy implementation

Its efforts come as part of Zalando’s do.MORE sustainability strategy, specifically the brand’s goal of extending the life of 50 million fashion items by 2023. The retailer hopes that these new initiatives take it one step closer to a circular system, through the redesigning of the product lifecycle.

Coppen continued: “According to our Attitude-Behaviour Gap report, more than 60 percent of consumers think it’s important that their clothes get a second life and not end up in the trash. Our goal is to drive behavioural change towards circular products and experiences.

“We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re working with key innovators in the industry to test and scale new solutions to help transition to a fully circular business model.”

The new initiatives

As part of its design phase, Zalando will be working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Berlin-based startup circular.fashion for the development of industry-wide circular product criteria, as well as the training of private label teams in the circular design process. It is also set to expand the Zalando own-brand ‘redeZIGN for circularity’, extending the line to provide 50 articles with a QR digital product passport.

Through a collaboration with London-based retail app, Save Your Wardrobe, the retailer will additionally be piloting maintenance and repair services to customers, working with local workshops and tailors. Currently available to Berlin customers, the service is looking to roll out into Düsseldorf and eventually into more markets.

The retailer is further constructing an open-source textile waste management platform, in partnership with Sorting For Circularity Project. The initiative intends to provide an analysis of textile waste, whilst looking into the possibilities of textile recycling companies. The development of the programme will see the production of an open digital platform that aims to bring compatible sorters of textile waste together with recyclers.

The announcement follows Zalando’s investment in textile regeneration technology group Infinited Fiber Company, with the brand stating it is to provide raw materials to the firm and will additionally use its innovative textile Innfina fibre for its private-label clothing.