Organic and sustainable is the future, says Zara boss


The CEO of international fashion brand Zara has said there is ‘no contradiction’ between sustainability and profitability.

Last month, the Spanish clothing giant announced that 100% of the cotton, linen and polyester used by the brand would be organic, sustainable or recycled by 2025. It also pledged that within a year all of its stores worldwide would be water and energy efficient.

So far so good. But can a fashion brand and retailer – whose entire business model is based on regular purchasing and rapid discarding – be sustainable in a meaningful sense?

Pablo Isla, CEO of Zara

Pablo Isla (pictured), chairman of Zara and its parent company Inditex, believes it can. But he says it requires commitment from every part if the business.

In addition to its switch to organic and recycled textiles, Zara also operates a low level of inventory, and it manufactures – mostly in its own factories in Spain, Portugal and Morocco – almost to order. Zara’s factories will only make what the company is sure will sell, and it knows this by constantly analysing data from store managers.

At the same time there is a business-wide strategy in place aimed at reaching zero waste in stores. Zara is also working with leading US university MIT to develop ways of making a wider range of fabrics from recycled plastics.

All of this, Isla told the BBC last week, ‘means there is no contradiction between sustainability and profitability of the company’.

Zara’s commitment to organic also extends to its staff dining rooms. At its main Zara logistics centre in Galicia, parent company Inditex has implemented a food sourcing policy that is ‘committed to organic suppliers, cutting environmental impact and minimizing food waste’.