Zara, flagship brand of the Inditex Group, has gained a reputation as the ultimate destination for European fashion, with nearly 3000 stores in 96 countries, and billions of dollars worth of profit each year. But just how ethical is Zara? How is this fast fashion giant impacting people, the planet, and animals? Let’s break it down.
When it comes to the planet, Zara gets an “It’s a Start” rating from us. Zara’s parent company, Inditex, has started a repair and reuse program called Closing the Loop. The program offers customers the opportunity to drop off their used garments in-store or through the post in order for their clothes to gain a second life – which is a good initiative.
The brand uses the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to guide the measurement and reporting of its carbon emissions and has set an intensity target to reduce emissions from its own operations by 15% by 2020. However, there is no set target for the supply chain. Despite all this, reports have actually shown moderate increases in electricity and energy consumption. Whilst Inditex has stated it has water reduction initiatives, and there’s talk of how the company plans to reduce its water footprint through a “Master Action Plan”, there is no evidence of set targets to reduce water wastage.
It is important to remember that Zara has fast fashion traits such as on trend styles and regular new arrivals. This business model is inherently harmful to the environment.
Zara scores “It’s a Start” based on the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report which looks at criteria including payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment initiatives. Suppliers and manufacturer partners with Inditex are required to follow its Code of Conduct, and it traces most of its final and second stages of production. It also implements some worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint.
However, it has made little to no progress on payment of a living wage across its supply chain. For a company with such a huge profit margin, this simply isn’t good enough!
Zara’s animal welfare policy includes a strict ban on fur, angora and on stocking products tested on animals. It also claims to source wool exclusively from non-mulesed sheep. Unfortunately, Zara does use leather and down without stating their sources, so we again rate them “It’s a Start” here.