MADRID – The fashion chain Zara is launching a digital platform to sell second-hand clothing from the brand. After several pilots, the Spanish brand of the Inditex group starts this service in Spain to extend the life cycle of garments.
On December 12, Zara will launch its second-hand platform Pre-Owned in Spain. The service will also be introduced in twelve other European countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium. Via the platform, private individuals can sell, donate or have clothing from the Zara brand repaired. Donated clothing items are collected from home by a courier and benefit the charity organisation Caritas.
Pre-Owned also offers a repair service for used clothing. This service is outsourced to local tailors and sewing shops. They will be responsible for repairing seams and zippers or replacing buttons.
Online and in store
The new Zara Pre-Owned service will be accessible through the chain’s stores as well as via its website or app. The digital version of the platform works in a similar way to, for example, Wallapop or Vinted. There, sellers can upload photos of their products and buyers can browse the range.
Zara’s sustainability goals
The service was launched as a pilot in the UK last year. The initiative came a year after Inditex stated some of its sustainability goals during the COP26 climate summit. The goals include using 40% recycled fibres by 2030, along with 25% fibres from regenerative agriculture and a further 25% from new generation biodegradable materials. Other targets included reducing emissions by over 50% in the same year and fully managing chemicals and energy by 2040.
UPV Producer Responsibility Act
Zara has had clothing donation bins since 2016. The fashion chain announced during the presentation of the 2022 financial year in March that Pre-Owned would reach more markets during the year. The launch started in France, the only country in the European Union that already applies the Extended Producer Responsibility (UPR) law. This law requires companies to be transparent about their waste management. Furthermore, it also penalises those who throw away products that can still be used.
The multinational is not the first major player to enter the circular market. H&M has been running a similar service for two years, which is supplemented by clothing rental (not yet available in Spain), and Uniqlo has been running a repair service in many of its stores for a year.
The fact that the UPV law will soon come into effect in several European countries has forced brands with high production volumes to embrace such initiatives. Major fashion manufacturers are looking for a way to avoid fines and levies for the large amount of textile waste they produce. This, in combination with the growing success of second-hand clothing, makes it favourable to enter this market.
Zara receives a painful slap on the wrist
Zara recently had to deal with Vestiaire Collective banning the sale of Zara clothes on their app. Vestiaire Collective is one of the leading online marketplaces for the sale of luxury second-hand fashion items and designer clothing. “With the acceleration of the climate crisis and the 92 million tons of textile waste thrown away every year, this is a necessary step to reduce the environmental and social impact of fashion,” they said in a statement. A committee of experts decided to select certain brands ban based on criteria such as low prices, rapid stock renewal and the size of the collections.
Zara not fast fashion
Vestiaire Collective’s action against Zara has great symbolic significance. The Spanish brand has been trying to convince the public for years that it is not a fast fashion brand. In fact, this was one of the key points in a recent Financial Times interview with Marta Ortega, daughter of Inditex empire founder Amancio Ortega. In it, she emphasised the position that the fashion giant’s flagship cannot be considered fast fashion.
Huge waste mountain of clothing
In Spain, more than 80% of the 900,000 tons of clothing thrown away each year ends up in landfill. According to an EU report, Spain scores low in terms of recycling, with only 12% of textiles being reused. In countries such as France and Germany this is above 30%. Zara produces an estimated 450 million garments per year, with 20,000 new styles released each year.
This is emphatically an estimate, because according to Fashion Revolution, one of the most renowned organisations in the field of sustainability, 92% of major brands do not indicate how much clothing they produce each year. It is also not clear how much of that clothing is actually sold. Organisations such as The Or Foundation, based in Ghana (one of the largest textile dumps in the world), have launched initiatives to get fast fashion companies to provide insight into their production volume.