Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Over the past few decades, Zara has become a go-to for many fashion lovers. However, as the brand operates on a fast fashion business concept, its environmental and social impact is one of the main reasons why people are now turning away from the brand, looking for more sustainable alternatives to fast fashion brands.
As the demand for ethical fashion rises, so does the number of alternatives to Zara which do not cost the Earth.
Before we get into our list of sustainable alternatives to Zara, let’s quickly talk about why make the switch in the first place.
How is its fast fashion impacting on people, the planet and animals?
As a fast fashion company, Zara can never be sustainable – that’s because its very purpose is to encourage us to overconsume clothing and buy garments we don’t need. Aside from the obvious issues associated with this, there are several other specific to Zara such as textile waste, social impact, worker's rights, and more.
While the brand does use recycled packaging, there is no mention or proof of minimizing textile waste – which is much more abundant in the fashion industry than packaging.
Like many other fast fashion companies, Zara has also set a target for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is no evidence that the company is actually on track to meet it.
Zara is doing little to tackle unfair worker pay through its supply chains, causing workers to be paid less than the minimum living wage.
While the brand avoids using fur or angora, it still widely uses leather, wool, down and exotic animal hair – without specifying where these materials come from and how they are sourced.
While when it comes to social impact, the brand may be doing better than other fast fashion labels, it’s still no match to ethical fashion companies. Half of Zara’s final stage production is undertaken in Spain, a country with much higher labour standards than the ones where fast fashion clothing is usually produced. However, the country still has medium risk for worker abuse. They also seem to be more transparent, albeit not enough about their operations.
So, where can we shop if we are looking to make better choices? Here are our top 5 choices for sustainable alternatives to Zara.
KowTow | New Zealand, ships worldwide
This label from New Zealand offers minimalist collections ideal for those who enjoy more simplistic pieces. In their production cycle, they’re applying circular design to reduce the amount of waste they’re producing to a minimum.
All of their clothes are made at SA8000®-certified organisations in India, to ensure that all environmental and ethical standards are upheld.
Materials: organic, renewable and biodegradable fibres – mainly organic cotton
Image: by KowTow
MUD Jeans | The Netherlands, ships worldwide
If you’re used to visiting Zara to shop for denim, the best sustainable and ethical fashion alternative out there are MUD Jeans. Although the garments run a little more expensive, when you consider the cost per wear, they actually cost much less than fast fashion jeans, as you can wear them for decades.
The brand puts circular economy into practice, producing their garments regionally and making them last. If you like to switch up your look often, they also offer the option to lease a pair of jeans, so that they can keep being reused!
Materials: GOTS certified organic cotton, recycled cotton
SHOP: MUD JEANS
Image: by MudJeans
Tonle | United States, ships worldwide
Tonle tackles one of the biggest issues of fast fashion – waste – in a brilliant way. They use salvaged end-of-roll fabrics, using even the last scraps to manufacture accessories such as hankies. What we also appreciate about this brand is that they include exactly how much water, energy and other resources have been saved in the manufacturing of the garment.
Their large collection includes both minimalist pieces and colourful garments – similar to Zara.
Materials: deadstock fabric
Image: by Tonle
Oh Seven Days | Turkey, ships worldwide
Oh Seven Days may be the closest in aesthetic to Zara on this list. Their line features plain and colourful blouses of inventive yet professional cuts, midi skirts, wide-legged trouser. However, these garments will last you much longer than any piece from Zara would!
While the general aesthetic is the same, Oh Seven Days adds a much more timeless touch to its garments. What does this mean for the buyer? You’ll still want to wear them years from now!
Materials: deadstock fabric and fabric waste
SHOP: OH SEVEN DAYS
Image: by Oh Seven Days
Tamga Designs | Canada, ships worldwide
Do the more colourful designs from Zara usually catch your eye? Look no further than Tamga Designs for an ethical fashion alternative! Their collection is full of colourful blouses and dresses you’ll want to keep wearing for years.
The brand uses the most sustainable fabrics, dyes and packaging for their garments.
Materials: Tencel, Lenzing Ecovero, Lenzing Modal
Cost: $ – $$
SHOP: TAMGA DESIGNS
Image: by Tamga Designs
Have any favorite sustainable brands to add to the list? How about a favorite second hand website or boutique that you adore? Drop them below!