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Zalando: the design criteria of circularity in fashion | Gdoweek

The new parameters aim to go beyond the concept of sustainability, taking into account every moment of the product life cycle

As indicated by the Sustainability Progress Report of 2021, in the last two years Zalando laid the foundations for circularity with the aim of extending the life of 50 million fashion products by 2023. Laura Coppen, head of circularity a Zalandoexplains innew design criteria of circularity introduced by the company, and which will allow the standardization of products designed for circularity by the 5,800 partner brands present on the Zalando platform, thus allowing 48 million customers to discover safer, longer lasting and recyclable products.

According to Coppen, the circular design is necessary in the fashion sector because the design and production phase of a product’s life cycle has a very strong environmental impact. This first phase, from the choice of materials to the production processes, can have a significant impact on the environment, with potential repercussions on the entire life cycle of the products. However, thanks to the application of circularity design criteria, designers can change the way they give life to products; in addition, the criteria allow to define a clear framework for brands willing to sell and promote these products on the Zalando platform.

“In recent years – he observes Laura coppen – the knowledge of what the circular economy can offer to the world of industry and in particular to the fashion sector has clearly improved. New business models are spreading more and more rapidly, such as the online second hand trade, rental fashion and recycling infrastructure. The last missing piece is precisely that of the circular design. “To make this further step, Zalando thinks that a retraining not only of the designers, but also of the whole production chainwith the ultimate goal of revolutionize the manufacturing process of the productsthe. The basic idea is that if products are meant to last, they will better support circular business models, such as rental fashion and second-hand assortment.

Zalando, partner of the company for years, recently focused on the development of Zalando’s redeZIGN collection, for which the company offered training conducted by itself to more than 200 colleagues, including the designers of the collection and buyers, and tested the design criteria of circularity in such a way as to make them modular and available for all brands. Zalando has adapted the criteria proposed by to the already existing sustainability criteria and thus provided the brands with uniformity in terms of requirements, keeping them accessible to all (for example, by focusing on the most used materials).

The criteria were designed on the basis of three strategies consistent with the circular design guidelines of the Ellen MacArthur is founded. Strategy 01 consists in the fact that the materials used for the products are safe, recyclable and / or renewable; Strategy 02, on the other hand, certifies that products are made to last longer, be repairable and possibly equipped with digital passports for monitoring through circular business models; Finally, Strategy 03 focuses on the fact that these products are ‘made to be used again’, that is, to be recycled or regenerated into new materials when they reach the end of their life cycle.

“For our customers – continues Coppen – this means being able to discover and buy a product made from certified materials, resistant over time, and destined, hopefully, to have a greater resale value precisely due to the fact that durability persists through a series of proprietary life cycles. Finally, customers can rest assured that the product always ends up becoming a new product or recycled material. ” The design criteria of circularity will be used not only for the labels of Zalando, but also for those of the partner brands.

These criteria are also in line with the Textile strategy dell’Ue; specifically, Zalando wants to actively contribute to the development of these European criteria in the fashion world: “We believe that the digitization of product sustainability information is the key that will encourage consumers to buy in a more sustainable way – adds the head of circularity at Zalando -. We will therefore be happy to adopt the digital passport for fabrics, as already implemented in the redeZIGN collection “.
At the moment, brands can meet the criteria on the basis of a self-declaration, as there are no standards for circular design at the sectoral level, with the exception of the C2C-regenerative design approach, already accepted as an integral part of sustainability measures: “Today there are certifications and standards for the first principle regarding materials and production processes, but not yet for durability and recyclability: this is a point that is working on”.

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