The Spanish fast fashion brand Zara has a new eco-line… but is it worth getting excited about? Named the “Join Life” collection, the pieces feature chic, clean silhouettes, as ever, perfectly on trend for this season. But does Zara’s use of sustainable fabrics make up for their ‘fast-fashion’ approach to consumerism?
The Usual Noteworthy Style Of Zara Clothing
First, let’s delve into the designs themselves, as these eye-catching threads are worthy of praise. Macaela Mackenzie of allure describes the new sustainable line as androgynous and earthy, borrowing from a rich palette of mineral tones. She further applauds the high-wasted pleated trousers that revive the best of 90’s fashion.
Zara itself is billing the line as androgynous, representing a fusion of masculine and feminine styles. The clean lines scream high fashion while the cuts go further, promising comfort and easy styling. The business-minded separates—including fitted bell-sleeved dresses, oversized trenches, and ruffled white blouses—are ideal for the modern working woman. All the characteristics and shapes we have come to expect from Zara clothing are still here, but this time they are sustainable.
Praiseworthy Fabric Choices
Now let’s explore the aspects of Zara’s new eco-line that you can’t see in the fashion spreads, beginning with those fabrics (my favourite topic). The pieces in the collection are made of organic cotton, recycled wool and Tencel (which we sell on Offset Warehouse of course!). From my previous blog you may recall that Tencel fabric is produced from wood cellulose from carefully managed forests. Additionally, organic cotton and recycled wool are championed for requiring less water than conventional versions, some sources quote as much as a 90% savings in water in addition to the conservation of other resources and the reduction of waste.
Fabric wasn’t the only factor considered when determining whether a design would earn a spot in this new environment focused line of Zara clothing. According to Chantel Fernandez of Fashionista the garments were evaluated according to a stringent list of qualifications:
• The piece must be constructed primarily from Tencel, recycled cotton, recycled polyester, Lenzing Modal, cotton approved by the Better Cotton Initiative, or recycled polyamide.
• A piece must be produced using Inditex’s “Green to Wear Technologies,” largely pertaining to water recycling.
• Any garment undergoing a wet process must be made in a factory that has earned an A or B in terms of Inditex’s sustainability grading system.
Noble Use of Power and Influence
I may not be on board with their high turnover of designs and totally unsustainable approach to product development, but the glimmer of hope for me is seeing such a large brand using its power and influence to stimulate more eco-friendly choices. Although the new line is just a small fraction of owner, Amancio Ortega’s offerings, the collection represents a large step in the right direction.
As I delved further into my research, I was pleased to see that this wasn’t the first step the brand has taken towards global responsibility. In recent years they have transformed their stores to be more efficient, aiming to use 50% less water and 30% energy by 2020. Zara also started a program in which boxes are provided to artists for creative recycling. They have even established hundreds of drop off locations for consumers to donate their old clothing, closing the wastefulness at the end of the fashion production cycle by taking charge of their product’s end of life.
Clearly serious about their march towards sustainability, Just Style reports that Zara signed an exclusive agreement with Lenzing this past June. Their partnership represents a commitment to producing premium raw materials from textile waste.
This is all part of Zara’s 2016-2020 Environmental Strategy Plan that aims to create a more circular economy, completing the recycling chain for ultimate sustainability. As one of the most profitable brands worldwide, whether out of financial necessity or a more noble sense of social and environmental responsibility, it’s hugely significant that these changes are being made at all. Certainly, they are changes we need to see all goliath fast-fashion brands making. If Zara is successful, I’ve no doubt that more brands may be willing to follow suit in creating lines that are both fashionable and eco-conscious.