Net-A-Porter’s Infinity initiative leads the way for the industry to transform the way fashion is made, sold and used, helping raise awareness of brands and designers prioritising change within their business and, ultimately, giving shoppers high-quality fashion and beauty that meets a variety of sustainable and ethical attributes that customers shop by.
“At Net-A-Porter we buy mindfully across all our categories to focus on investment pieces that we know our customers can buy now and wear forever. Through the newly considered Net Sustain customer journey and the steady expansion of our sustainable edit, we are taking care and consideration over how we can offer our customers the tools they need to create timeless wardrobes that can be treasured for many years to come,” Lea Cranfield, chief buying and merchandising officer at Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter and The Outnet, said.
Shoppers demand sustainable fashion
To be included in the Net Sustain edit, brands must meet one or more of nine key attributes, ranging from considered materials, ingredients and processes to reducing waste, as well as aligning with internationally recognised best practices in the fashion and beauty industries.
In 2020, Fashion Revolution surveyed over 5000 people between the ages of 16 and 75 across five European markets. The results brought to light many expectations shoppers have today when it comes to accessing sustainable and ethical fashion. Interestingly, over 60 per cent of respondents expressed interest in learning about the environmental policies companies have in place and what clothing companies are doing to reduce their waste.
The lack of transparency in the fashion industry continues to stifle shoppers in making informed decisions. However, Net-A-Porter’s Infinity strategy aims to support fashion and beauty brands that meet certain attributes. While educating the industry on adopting circular practices.
Retailers can no longer wait for consumers to shop more consciously. Part of the reason why it’s a slow shift points to a lack of information shared. Shoppers are demanding the fashion industry be truthful. Fashion companies must own their part by acting now to improve their supply chain.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of respondents in the 2020 Fashion Revolution survey said it was important for brands to have sustainability certifications. And more than 70 per cent of people said they wanted brands to provide detailed information about product care and repair and provide a service to take back unwanted clothes for reuse or recycling.
Recently, Net-A-Porter introduced a ninth attribute, Designed for Circularity, which champions brands that help facilitate a shift in behaviour away from throwaway culture by focusing on solutions that promote product longevity.
For brands to start incorporating circular practices, they need to get comfortable with a new norm of designing for circularity and being willing to openly share aspects of their business to prove it.
Preparing for fashion’s circular future
Some of the world’s leading e-commerce marketplaces are helping brands and retailers evolve. From Farfetch and their innovative retail operations software to Net-A-Porter’s Net Sustain edit. For real change to occur, we need to ensure many fashion businesses of all sizes evolve.
Net Sustain’s Designed for Circularity attribute means brands have sustainability services organised independently from Net-A-Porter. These include repair and restoration services, take-back schemes and dedicated recycling programs. Practices that extend the life of clothing and incorporate a closed loop system and are Cradle to Cradle Certified.
How many times does it need to be said that designing for circularity is not a nice to have? We unequivocally need the whole fashion industry to do better. Our planet depends on it.
We’re seeing a small increase in Australian fashion businesses adopting circular practices. Decjuba recently announced its partnership with digital textile recycling solution Upparel on a take-back scheme for jeans. Customers can take jeans of any wash, quality or brand to a Decjuba store and they’ll be sent to Upparel for sorting and either upcycled or recycled.
Along with Upparel, Circular Centre in Sydney provides solutions to reduce textile waste and pollution. And Blocktexx, another Australian business, has developed proprietary technology which separates polyester and cotton materials back into their high-value raw materials of PET and cellulose for reuse as new products for all industries.’
Technology providing transparency
In order to bring greater transparency to the fashion industry, we need innovation and technology. It’s clear we can’t always take a business’s word for it that they are sustainable and ethical. We’ve seen too many times how easy it is for fashion brands to pretend their processes and supply chains are better for people and the planet.
As part of the Infinity initiative, Net-A-Porter is partnering with Eon to provide digital identification in garments and shoes through its CircularID Protocol. The pilot program will start with a select range of Porte & Paire shoes where every pair will have a near-field-communication (NFC) chip embedded in a shoe to record the item’s history as it moves across the life cycle, from provenance and design to resale and recycle.
From a shopper’s perspective, they’ll be able to scan the NFC chip with their smartphone and be prompted to open a browser link. This is where brands and retailers can leverage new and interesting marketing channels to set them apart from the competition. The link becomes more than just another web page, it’s a connection to understanding that item and how to extend its life. Information shared includes an immersive story experience and access to additional Net-A-Porter content and services.
Australian technology company, Laava, is a local solution provider that offers secure, scannable, product authentication technology. Their technology is more secure than QR codes and they can co-deploy NFC chips to use in apparel, shoes, accessories and beauty products.
These are the first steps to building and leading with a transparent supply chain that benefits brands, industry and people. Ensuring products and materials are in use for longer. Shoppers don’t expect brands and retailers to change overnight, but they do expect businesses to start.
Net-A-Porter is standing up for a better future in fashion and providing a platform for brands to be part of it. We have more than enough resources and innovation to help Australian businesses do the same. There needs to be a fundamental change from provoking hyper-consumption to conscious buying. And we all play a part in shaping the future. What will your role be?