At the home of Zara, fast and slow fashion collide

A CORUNA, Spain/London – In Spain’s A Coruna, two contrasting fashion business models collide – pitching the growing demands for the clothing industry to become more sustainable against the constant need to drive sales.

This rainy, windswept, city on the rugged Atlantic coast is the unlikely headquarters of Zara-owner Inditex – the world’s biggest fast fashion retailer.

It also hosts small boutiques offering high quality, durable products that consider themselves an alternative to the fast and affordable fashion propelling Inditex’s annual sales of 28 billion euros ($30 billion).

Inditex’s massive output of garments was a factor behind the European Union’s pledge last year to reverse the “overproduction and overconsumption of clothing”. It wants all clothes sold in the bloc to be “long-lived and recyclable” by 2030.

The EU will announce its most significant proposals for the industry yet at the end of March, environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Portugal last week.

The European Commission wants to ensure companies only manufacture the number of products they need. It will stop short of imposing restrictions, instead asking firms to police themselves to be called sustainable, Sinkevičius said.

“If you release tons and tons of clothes, textiles, shoes into the market, you will have to collect it,” he said.

Around 5.8 million tons of textile products are discarded every year in the EU, equivalent to 11 kg (24 lb) per person. A truckload of textile products is landfilled or incinerated somewhere in the world every second, according to EU figures.

Inditex had 565,027 tons of garments on the market in 2021, more than the 528,797 tons in 2018, according to its annual report. The company may disclose a further increase when its 2022 annual report is published next month.

So far, Inditex shows no sign

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