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Opinion

”Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainability, so we see this to be an important development market”

As part of our research report, The New Sustainable Consumer, where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers do or do not incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November. Click below to register.

We call them our ’voices of change’ and this time we turn to Uwe Kippschnieder and Lisa-Marie Jena, from the German brand CLOSED, to talk about how sustainability is a key factor in their DNA, why Scandinavia is an important market for sustainable brands and how the name CLOSED was born in 1978. 

CLOSED is also one of eight European brands that are currently relevant through Zalando’s collaboration to create a more sustainable capsule collection Small steps. Big impact. A capsule collection that guides consumers to make more sustainable decisions when it comes to fashion without compromising on style. Read about the full collection here.

First of all, could tell me about the brand CLOSED and how the name was born? 

The origin of the brand was born in 1968 by Marithe and Francois Girbaud. They gave their brand the name C’est ça. ‘ÇA’ for short,  with one clear idea, to launch Italy’s first denim label. That’s was it, hence the name C’est ça. The start of the brand could have gone better, and soon they found themselves entangled in a lengthy lawsuit ending up with that they had lost the rights to their name and had to rename the company. In 1978 when they got the letter from the court saying that the case was CLOSED, they decided to stick with that as a name. And the brand name CLOSED has stayed since then. 

Amazing story, how did sustainability be a part of your brand and why is it so important?  

— Well, we have been doing this for a long time, now sustainability has become a trend but for us it’s not, we have always had this mindset. We are a family business. That’s not just a fact, it is how we operate in everything we do, and it is a key element in our philosophy. Our philosophy is to manage the brand the same way businesses was managed in the old days when you did business with people close around you, who you like and trust.  This philosophy has shaped the brand since the start and works with our vision to create sophisticated, long-lasting design and that every stage from the sourcing to production is made as sustainable as possible. We want to produce our collections with less of an environmental impact and look upon all resources with respect. We want to do this with friends, and we want to do this now and for the future. So, we have as much as possible of our production close by in Europe, today it is around 80 %, and all our denim is produced in Italy. This includes trims, laundry and everything. 

”We want to do this with friends, and we want to do this now and for the future”

If I get it right you have a long relationship with your Italian partners creating the BETTER BLUE line of Denim? 

— Yes our jeans are made in close relationship with them and the joint know-how led to the development of our eco-friendly denim line A BETTER BLUE for a more sustainable jeans production. Almost all our jeans are crafted in collaboration with three production partners. Candiani, a traditional weaving company, which many refer to as the best (and greenest!) mill in the world, provides the fabric. A BETTER BLUE, Candiani uses cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative. Our jeans are then hand-sewn by Paul SPA, a family-run business. As there is an expert in every part of the process, a total of 22 different specialists are involved in the production of one single pair of CLOSED’s signature Pedal Pusher jeans. Since CLOSED is family-owned, we don’t have the same growth stress from investors. Instead, we can grow organically and sustainable together with our partners.  

How come you see Scandinavia as a potential market for Sustainable brands?

Uwe: — Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainability. Before the Covid-19 crisis, we could see that it was mainly a trendsetting conscious consumer that engaged in our sustainability work and demanded products that were produced in a certain way. Now we see the consumer demand increase in all aspects surrounding sustainability and that Scandinavia is one of the regions where this change is happening faster than others.

Lisa: — We can see two different consumers engage with Closed. We have one group that has been with us for a long time. Long before Sustainability was a thing and considered trendy. They know about our DNA and engage because they know what we stand for and they have been with us for a long time. Then we have the new and younger consumers. They find us because sustainability has become a thing and they start searching for more sustainable brands. They feel that sustainability is the real deal and they want brands that are transparent and trustworthy in what they do. We see that Scandinavia is definitely at the forefront of this sustainable movement and a leading region in this topic. This makes Scandinavia an important development market that we want to approach with a sense of Hanseatic humbleness. 

This interview is part of our research for The New Sustainable Consumer — where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November. Secure your free ticket to the online experience below.

Categories
Opinion

”We want to empower customers to make an informed decision”

As part of our research — The New Sustainable Consumer — where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers do or do not incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November.

We call them ’our voices of change’ and today it’s time to meet Kate Heiny, Director for Sustainability at Zalando, one of the fastest-growing multi-brand retailer and fashion marketplace in the world. She has worked in leading positions for sustainability at Target Corp and C&A, and has been supporting The Sustainable Apparel Coalition as a board director for six years before joining Zalando as Director of sustainability in 2019. Together with her team, she is responsible for bringing Zalando’s Corporate Sustainability Strategy to life and in driving actionable measures in becoming a sustainable fashion platform, with a net-positive impact for people and the planet. 

Kate and her team are currently relevant through Zalando’s collaboration with eight European designers to create a more sustainable capsule collection. The collection is a following of the successful launch Small steps. Big impact.. The concept has expanded to include both men’s and women’s clothing. This time, the collection has been put together by eight European brands; Closed, Designer’s Remix, Henrik Vibskov, Holzweiler, House of Dagmar, Mother of Pearl, Mykke Hofmann and Progetto Quid. The mission is to guide consumers to make better sustainable decisions when it comes to fashion without compromising on style. Read about the collection here.

Why is sustainability so important for Zalando?

— We know that the fashion industry is facing huge, complex challenges. The planet is suffering from the effects of climate change and unsustainable use of resources. Human rights and working standards are under threat. We also know that we have been part of the problem. Now we need to be part of the solution. At the same time, we know that both our current and future customer base are calling for more sustainable choices in fashion. Nine out of ten Generation Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. The immediate significance is clear for a customer-centric company like Zalando; we must serve the customer’s needs if we want to be the Starting Point for Fashion. By committing to sustainability, we can secure our long-term growth, stay relevant to our customers and establish market-leading differentiation against our competitors. Together with our people, partners and customers, we’ll take a stand, style with care and shape our future. 

How is this being implemented throughout Zalando mission and businesses practices 

— I think we can all agree that ‘less bad’ isn’t good enough so our ambition is clear. [The initiative] do. MORE is our vision to be a sustainable fashion platform with a net-positive impact for people and the planet. It means all of us giving more than we take. Improving our business is one part of how we achieve our vision, but it will also mean reaching further; right across the value chain. From beginning-to-end, we recognize our influence on how brand partners to source and make their products, and how our customers buy and care for them later. This is the beginning, and we’ve thought carefully about how we’ll get there. Our plan has three parts: 

1. It starts by taking a stand on the most important issues today — climate change, use of resources and worker rights. We’re raising the bar, acting first and bringing our brand partners on the journey with us.​ ​As a part of our commitment, we’re tackling climate change head-on by reducing our carbon footprint and releasing​ science-based targets​ ​in line with the 1,5 °C Paris Agreement goal. Furthermore, we are working together with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to set new sustainability standards for brands and retailers. ​Zalando is the first retailer ​to make sustainability assessment mandatory for its private labels and partner brands on the basis of the Higg Brand and Retail Module. By leveraging our position as a leading platform with more than 2500 brands, we can scale and promote the initiative and drive lasting sustainability improvements across the industry using a unified system of measurement. 

2. One challenge is that sustainable fashion is still not widely available, and it can be a complicated and confusing topic. We want to change that​. ​We’re making it easy for people to shop brands they want to — big and small — sustainably, while also ensuring that our customers have the inspiration and information they are looking for, all in one place. We want to empower customers to make an informed decision. Today we have over 40.000 articles flagged with sustainability from more than 650 brands. This makes up more than 10% of Zalando’s GMV, bringing us closer to our goal of growing this share to 20% by 2023. 

3. Beyond this, we want to shape our future. We’re experimenting and collaborating across the industry to create a circular fashion system. And we’ll make sure our workforce has the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. We just took a big step on our circularity journey when we recently launched the pre-owned category in Germany and Spain. This new offer caters to both, customers who want to shop and those who want to trade in pre-owned articles for credit on Zalando. All of this comes with the look, feel and unmatched convenience of Zalando, making this highly-anticipated offering available to millions of customers across Europe. The category will be rolled out to customers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Poland in October. 

”As a part of our commitment, we’re tackling climate change head-on by reducing our carbon footprint and releasing​ science-based targets​ ​in line with the 1,5 °C Paris Agreement goal.”

With the increase in demand for sustainable practices. Have you noticed an increase in the status of the sustainability manager in the fashion industry?

— For us, sustainability is more important than ever and in the context of COVID, the focus on sustainability has increased even more. The current crisis demands that companies accelerate their progress on sustainability initiatives in order to pave a better future for people and the planet and to be competitive in the market that will emerge from the pandemic. It simply goes hand in hand – companies need to be successful and sustainability is necessary for success​. 

If someone wants to become a successful sustainability manager that stands ready for the next normal. What guiding words would you pass on to that person?  

— First, understand your core business model. Second, understand your material sustainability issues, and third, define a clear strategy based on these priorities and with measurable goals.

What role do you think that the online multi-brand retailers should have in regard to a sustainable transformation?

— To us at Zalando sustainability means balancing economic growth with the impact we have on people and the planet. As a platform, we want to enable customers to make more sustainable choices and incentivize brands to produce the offering. With over 34 million customers in 17 markets and more than 2500 brand partners, we want to use our scale and technology to take the lead in building the connections needed to transform the industry to the better.​ ​Our collaboration with SAC is a good example of how we as a platform can use our size to scale and promote initiatives and drive lasting sustainability improvements across the industry. 

We can see a huge increase in sustainability as an image-building asset for consumers to express themselves. Is this something that you can see at Zalando?

— We know that sustainability is an important topic for our customers. As already mentioned, nine out of ten Generation Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. We can also see this reflected in our sales. In Q2 2020, more than 35% of Zalando customers bought more sustainable fashion and we see up to 30% higher conversion rate when products are flagged with sustainability. 

”Nine out of ten Generation Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues.”

Can you see any changes in the sustainable consumer preferences pre- and post-corona at Zalando? 

— We have seen a steady increase in the share of customers that are buying items from our sustainability assortment, and this has continued despite the coronavirus crisis. Our internal research has shown that sustainability has become more important for 34% of our customers while 38% say that brand transparency has become more important. 

Do you know what the consumer values the most when they search for sustainable products at Zalando? How are factors like price, eco-facts, eco-storytelling, labelling etc playing a role for consumers when searching and choosing products?

— This is definitely something that we are researching in order to understand our customer’s needs even better. So far, we can see that our efforts to make it easier for our consumers to find and shop more sustainable products has led to an increased share in sales of more sustainable products (currently 10% of our GMV, our goal is to reach 20% by 2023). However, price value and fit are still the most important factors for consumers and sustainability only comes after that. 

This interview is part of our research for The New Sustainable Consumer — where we want to create a better understanding of why and how consumers incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behaviour. We’ve researched a large amount of existing quantitative consumer reports from around the world and conducted a wide range of interviews with industry experts. These experts have acted as our advisors, they are individuals dedicated to sustainability and add different perspectives to the research through their individual approach. The report will be presented at the Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference 12 November. Secure your free ticket to the online experience.

Kate and her team are currently relevant through Zalando’s collaboration with eight European designers to create a more sustainable capsule collection. The collection is a following of the successful launch Small steps. Big impact. The concept has expanded to include both men’s and women’s clothing. This time, the collection has been put together by eight European brands; Closed, Designer’s Remix, Henrik Vibskov, Holzweiler, House of Dagmar, Mother of Pearl, Mykke Hofmann and Progetto Quid. The mission is to guide consumers to make better sustainable decisions when it comes to fashion without compromising on style. Read more about the Capsule below.

Categories
News

Zalando launch sustainability-focused capsule collection

As people’s values are becoming more infused in their shopping habits, consumers are getting more environmentally and socially conscious, turning to brands and retailers that not only talk about responsibility but also demonstrate it by inviting the consumers to their community and collaborations. 

— We know that both our current and future customer base is calling for more sustainable choices in fashion. Together with our people, partners and customers, we’ll take a stand, style with care and shape our future, says Kate Heiny Director of sustainability at Zalando

Following the successful launch of the first Small steps. Big impact. collection in January 2020, Zalando has expanded the concept to include both men’s and women’s clothing. This time, the collection has been put together by eight European brands; CLOSED, Designer’s Remix, Henrik Vibskov, Holzweiler, House of Dagmar, Mother of Pearl, Mykke Hofmann and Progetto Quid.

Zalando combines some of the most creative and innovative stars from the fashion industry to create a collection of 116 different garments. The contributing brands from Scandinavia, Germany, the UK, and Italy were selected based on their values ​​around sustainability and were asked to create a conscious collection under a common aesthetic, with a focus on using materials from sustainable sources. Small steps. Big impact. encourages a constructive conversation to work towards a more sustainable fashion industry. Uwe Kippschnieder is the denim developer at CLOSED and knows that the collection is important.

— Scandinavia is at the forefront of sustainability. Before the Covid-19 crisis, we could see that it was mainly a trendsetting conscious consumer that engaged in our sustainability work and demanded products that were produced in a certain way. Now we see the consumer demand increase in all aspects surrounding sustainability and that Scandinavia is one of the regions where this change is happening faster than others, he says.

”Human rights and working standards are under threat. We also know that we have been part of the problem”

The capsule collection repeats the message of Zalando’s sustainability strategy for 2023, entitled do.MORE, which was launched in October last year. Zalando acknowledges that the fashion industry contributes enormously to the negative environmental impact in the world and strives to be part of the solution. The company wants to use its scope, its contacts, its scale and its technology to influence positive change in the fashion industry and become a sustainable platform with a positive impact on people and the planet.

— We know that the fashion industry is facing huge, complex challenges. The planet is suffering from the effects of climate change and unsustainable use of resources. Human rights and working standards are under threat. We also know that we have been part of the problem. Now we need to be part of the solution, concludes Kate Heiny.

Interested in getting the full picture of the New Sustainable Consumer report?  Secure your free ticket to the live stream experience — Scandinavian MIND Transformation Conference on November 12.

Categories
News

5 just launched essential collabs with a Scandinavian touch

Cecilie Bahnsen x Mackintosh

The Danish womenswear label combines sculptural silhouettes with couture techniques, reinterpreting this with a modern approach. In her latest collab, Bahnsen brings her modern vision of femininity and Danish simplicity to that most utilitarian of pieces, the bonded cotton rain Mac, teaming up with the iconic British luxury brand Mackintosh.

Cecilie has designed seven coats in two silhouettes for her A/W 2020 collection. Both are interpretations of traditional men’s coats from the Mackintosh archive and instantly recognisably as Cecilie Bahnsen, with their sculptural shapes. The first is Bahnsen’s spin on the archetypal Mac, reimagined with her signature volume, a detachable hood, and removable quilted lining. The second is an oversized hooded cape.

CDLP x Cuixmala

Originally designed as a home for international financier Sir James Goldsmith, Cuixmala is a small eco-friendly luxury resort embedded in over 30,000 acres of nature reserve on the Mexican Pacific coast. It’s also well-known for its characteristic color blocking throughout the property, now highlighted in a new capsule with Swedish design company of luxury men’s essentials, CDLP. The collection includes a swim brief, swim short, and throw, where each style is consciously crafted in Portugal using Econyl — an innovative Italian-sourced regenerated nylon fibre made from ocean waste. The Throw is made in 100% modal.

Close Up and Private x An Ivy

Covid-19 has changed a lot of things. Also how we get dressed. But emerging Danish brand An Ivy is putting on a fight for classic menswear, also through the release of a special collaboration. 

Since 2009, artist and fashion legend Sergei Sviatchenko and his son Erik has left marks on the Danish and international fashion scene with the blog project Close Up and Private. They’ve defined a refreshing new style movement with its roots in classical menswear interpreted in a way that is both up-to-date and distinct.

The collab, called The Splash, takes its aesthetic starting point in the distinctive approach to wardrobe classics that have made Close Up And Private one of the most revolutionary art projects on the international fashion scene in the last decades. It’s built around the concept that all items can be mixed and matched and consists of two shirts, five narrow ties with striped, dotted, and club-inspired designs as well as two bow ties.

B. Åkerlund x Handsome Stockholm

Handsome Stockholm is a contemporary Swedish brand for exclusive designer gloves, established with the notion that few accessories are as elegant as a pair of matching leather gloves — they are the final piece of a perfect outfit. 

They also offer the worldwide unique Lose One, Buy One service, which enables previous customers to purchase one replacement glove.

They’ve now teamed up with fashion activist and costume designer, B. Åkerlund (who’s worked with every A-list celebrity in the industry, including Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Britney Spears, to name a few) for the launch of The Royal Collection. It’s a line of superb quality leather gloves, inspired by royalty, for which Åkerlund has a particular admiration. Each style is named after a celebrated royal position, including the Queen, Duchess, and Countess styles among others.

Zalando’s sustainable capsule

Following last spring’s launch of the first Small steps. Big impact. By Zalando. collection, the leading European e-tailer now introduces a new sustainable capsule. This time, the drop includes both men’s and women’s clothing where 116 different pieces have been put together by eight European brands; Closed, Designer’s Remix, Henrik Vibskov, Holzweiler, House of Dagmar, Mother of Pearl, Mykke Hofmann, and Progetto Quid. They were selected based on their values ​​around sustainability and asked to create a conscious collection under a common aesthetic, with a focus on using materials from sustainable sources.