Green is upping its fashion game. In the latest move linking the young and chic to sustainability, the world’s two largest fashion brands -- H&M and Zara -- have agreed to partner with nonprofit Canopy, backing its “Fashion Loved By Forest” campaign, an effort to rid rayon and viscose clothing of all traces of ancient and endangered forests.
Canopy says the global clothing market represents some $1.2 trillion in annual sales. And while at least 17 other brands -- including Eileen Fisher, Quiksilver and Loomstate, best known for its sustainable cotton products -- are already on board, adding retail giants H&M, based in Sweden, and Zara, which is owned by Inditex, adds considerable clout. In its release announcing the partnership, the environmental group says it hopes the addition of such large brands will “send a powerful signal to the logging and pulp sectors that market demands are shifting.”
The problem, Canopy research has found, is that pulp from some of the world’s most threatened forests is routinely creeping into the world’s supply of rayon, viscose, modal and other trademarked fabrics, “posing an increasing risk to threatened forest ecosystems around the world. Today's commitments by these brands will help curtail the problem and build solutions.”
H&M says it intends to have its plan in place by June, and that it will be free of all problematic sourcing by 2017.
Inditex, based in Spain, is the world’s largest fashion retailer; H&M is second-largest. And perhaps just as importantly, in the realm of global influencers, both are constant favorites of Millennials. Research from GfK-Roper Consulting Consumer Trends reports that among American Gen Y consumers, 65% (and 69% of female Millennials) believe it is important that companies take environmentally responsible actions.
Interestingly, however, GfK reports that Gen Y shoppers in the U.S. are somewhat less likely to feel that way than their counterparts in developed Asia and Central Europe, and significantly less likely to express that concern than those in Latin America (79%); developing Asia (76%) and Western Europe (74%.)
Separately, H&M is reportedly ready to debut two of its newer retail formats, COS and & Other Stories, in the U.S. this year. The first COS is opening this month in New York City’s SoHo area, with a second scheduled for Beverly Hills, Calif., later this year, reports Chain Store Age. And its first & Other Stories is scheduled to open in New York in the fall.