Fast fashion has been at the forefront of Zara's brand identity; what hasn't is its business ethics or commitment to sustainability. Those finer points may have gotten lost in the shuffle as the retailer giant built a reputation as a chain that could mass produce trends in real time, much to the delight of its avid shoppers.
Now, in a move that puts both great clothes and thoughtful consumerism front and center, Zara introduced its Join Life Collection on its website. The lineup, which features a minimalist capsule of contemporary staples, is as stylish as it is smart, though following the lead of fast-fashion competitor H&M, which launched its Conscious Collection in 2012, perhaps long overdue. Nevertheless, the commitment to eco-conscious fashion is apparent throughout the latest collection, which derives materials from organic cotton, recycled wool, and sustainable Tencel.
The #JoinLife collection is committed to "clothing that respects the environment," which it maintains through the production of that line and the suppliers it uses, right down to the recycled boxes it uses to ship its clothing, and through its eco-friendly stores. The website reports that 50 percent of Zara's retail locations are currently eco-efficient. Making its efforts even more visible to consumers, Zara encourages shoppers to bring unwanted clothing into its storefronts to be recycled, another move plucked right from H&M's playbook. Regardless, the intentions are admirable, as are the very real steps to make sustainability a core part of the business, with a long-term plan to affect "sustainable development, economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection," backed by its parent company, Inditex.
While the goals are certainly lofty, the practices already in place are promising, and the first sustainable collection is the proof. A look through the lineup and you'll feel good about picking up any of these pieces — and perhaps recycling your old stuff the next time to pop into Zara, too.