Inditex works to ensure fast fashion can be sustainable fashion
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Inditex works to ensure fast fashion can be sustainable fashion

Spanish fast fashion giant Inditex is leading a revolution in the industry towards more sustainable business. One example: in the past, cut-off scraps from Inditex’s clothing would either be used to stuff furniture or thrown into a landfill in the Spanish town of Arteixo. As of very recently, the company’s changed this practice: now, it chemically reduces these scraps to cellulose, mixes that cellulose with wood fibres, and spins it into a textile called Refibra. That material is then used in “more than a dozen items”.

Inditex’s share price is up by 13% over the past month

graph 2405 indietex

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Inditex’s focus on the environment comes from the twinned factors that fashion – as its practiced today – is fundamentally unsustainable on the one hand, and a growing awareness of that fact on the other. Long term, it makes no sense to wreck the planet; short term, it makes no sense to alienate customers who are becoming worried that you’re wrecking the planet. At present, fashion absolutely is guilty of that crime – and Inditex is a big part of it.

According to researchers at McKinsey, the fashion industry (worth $3 trillion at time of writing) consumes vast quantities of cotton water and power to create 100 billion products a year. Within 12 months, three fifths of those products will be thrown away. Rob Opsomer, a researcher with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, adds that “less than 1%” of this overall quantity will ever be recycled. Instead, he says: “the equivalent of a dump truck filled with textiles gets landfilled of incinerated every single second.” In 2016, Inditex manufactured 1.4 billion garments – so, unless it commits to being part of the solution, it’s definitely part of the problem. And the company knows it.

Germán García Ibáñez, the brains behind Inditex’s push to reuse old clothing under its Join Life sub-brand and other initiatives, sums up the company’s new approach succinctly: “we’re trying to find a more sustainable version of all materials.” For now, that means eating higher manufacturing costs, but Inditex is confident that – with experience – these costs will diminish. And, if it keeps young consumers in love with the company’s eight brands, then it’s worth it.


Dominion holds Iniditex in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.

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