U.K. fast-fashion retailer Primark is making waves with a new accolade for its vegan products.
Global inspection services firm TÜV Rheinland—which independently assesses the quality, safety, technology and environmental impact of companies across a range of industries—has awarded Primark with a “vegan mark” certification for its clothing, shoes and carrier bags.
The London-based retailer is the first in the world to receive the distinction for fashion products.
TÜV Rheinland’s vegan mark designates a product as free of animal-derived materials like silk, wool, leather, pearls, feathers, down, bone, exotic skins, or fur. Chemicals used in any supply chain processes must also be declared by their producers to be free of any substances of animal origin. After product testing, document reviews and factory inspections by the group’s auditors, TÜV Rheinland awards the test mark, which is valid for one year.
According to the group, tests are based on legal labeling requirements for textiles and shoes, as well as verification based on a Bill of Materials (BOM). Materials are tested with methods like microplastic and fiber analysis, and process chemicals must be accompanied by a declaration of conformity that states that they were manufactured without raw materials of animal origin.
“Growing concern about the global climate crisis and the role played by fast fashion means attitudes to consumption are changing fast, particularly among young people,” TÜV Rheinland said in a statement. The group referenced a study conducted by international market intelligence agency Mintel, which revealed that more than one-third of apparel and footwear shoppers would prefer to patronize stores that eschew the use of animal products.
“As consumers pursue sustainable lifestyles, especially with regards to consumerism, sustainability, environmental protection, and animal welfare, they are changing their expectations for manufacturers and brands,” the firm said.
Primark appears to be addressing shifting consumer attitudes proactively with programs dedicated to sourcing raw materials, manufacturing responsibly, retail efficiency programs and recycling.
Last fall, the company announced that it would be doubling down on its sustainable cotton program by training more than 160,000 independent cotton farmers in sustainable farming methods across India, Pakistan and China. At the time, Primark characterized the expansion as a milestone in its commitment to minimizing its environmental impact, while offering more sustainably sourced cotton to shoppers.