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Zalando, SAC and Higg Co Collab on Fashion Sustainability Standards

Zalando, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co have set a new collaboration to accelerate a global sustainability standard in the fashion industry.

Zalando is the first retailer to use the SAC’s updated version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM) to make sustainability assessment a must for brands selling on its platform. As part of this push toward industry-wide change, Zalando will gather sustainability data from its partner brands to understand where the challenges of the industry are, individually and collectively.

Higg BRM data will then help Zalando identify trends and explore how to develop solutions to meaningful and lasting improvement in collaboration with its partner brands. The Higg BRM is a tool that offers brands and retailers a comprehensive way to measure their performance around ethical and environmental parameters such as human rights, fair wages or carbon dioxide emissions.

Users can organize their sustainability priorities based on the results. All SAC brand and retail members will eventually use the Higg BRM to measure their sustainability performance and progress, making it possible for the apparel industry to compare sustainability at the brand level.

Kate Heiny, director of sustainability at Zalando, said the online platform for fashion and lifestyle wants to “raise the bar, act first and bring our partners on the journey to address today’s most important issues: climate change, use of resources and worker rights.”

Heiny said as part of Zalando’s “do.More” sustainability strategy  the company has made assessments around ethical and sustainable parameters for its brand partners mandatory. She said the Higg BRM will help the company achieve its goal to continuously increase its ethical standards and by 2023 will only work with partners who align with them.

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“Zalando’s decision to require its partner brands to use the Higg BRM will serve as a catalyst for bringing the industry together towards a standard system for sustainability measurement,” SAC executive director Amina Razvi said. “This is how we can implement and achieve lasting change.”

Higg Co was spun out of the SAC in 2019 to develop technology behind the Higg Index and its suite of industry tools, including the Higg BRM, to accelerate global supply chain sustainability, beginning with the fashion industry.

The SAC is the leading sustainability association for the apparel, footwear and textile industry. The coalition’s 250 global members collaborate to develop the Higg Index, a suite of five sustainability tools that assess social and environmental sustainability performance, identify areas for improvement and enable the environmental and social transparency consumers want. Higg Co develops the technology platform that hosts the Higg Index.

“More strikingly than ever, the coronavirus crisis has brought to light many of the challenges the industry faces,” Razvi said. “Maintaining strong business relationships, leading with values of sustainability and compassion for the health, safety and well-being of workers around the world, and leveraging sustainability as a lens for both recovery and rebuilding will be critical for the industry.”