Luxury retailers want to be a go-to source for sustainable shoppers.
On Tuesday, Net-a-Porter launched a new category on its homepage called Net Sustain, which focuses on sustainability with more than 500 environmentally friendly pieces from 26 brands like Stella McCartney, Mother of Pearl, Veja and Maggie Marilyn. The category will expand to include other brands and new products over the coming months.
The online retailer created a criterion of six attributes that brands needed to meet to be included in Net Sustain: They have to prove they use sustainable materials, use sustainable processes, work to reduce waste, use local production, are crafted with an eye toward local communities and artisan skills, and pay attention to animal welfare.
“We worked closely with sustainability consultants to develop criteria within each attribute that takes into account globally recognized sustainability standards,” said Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director for Net-a-Porter. “This helps us be confident that a brand is devoted in their approach to making their business and their product more sustainable. We conducted rigorous assessment interviews with each brand and vetted every product that features in Net Sustain.”
The products in Net Sustain will be housed in their own section of the site, and they will be marked with a badge so that customers can easily sort out the sustainable products when viewing them in other categories, like dresses.
The debut of the sustainable category follows Net-a-Porter’s childrenswear launch in January. This is consistent with the company’s stated plans to explore new categories, like its renewed focus on eyewear and accessories.
Net-a-Porter’s competitors have unveiled their own versions of a sustainability section, like Farfetch with its Conscious Edit, launched in April. Matches Fashion has a sustainability code of conduct it distributes to all of its brand partners, along with a survey they must fill out describing their sustainable practices. Among big luxury groups, Kering places a large public emphasis on sustainability, as seen in its annual climate report that came out this month, and LVMH linked last month with United Nations agency UNESCO to advance its sustainability goals.
Von der Goltz said this is the biggest push to date the company has made toward sustainability, but it’s working on other goals within the category. For instance, it plans to use 100% renewable power by 2020 and to release an update to the sustainability report on the company it first published in 2017. The move toward sustainability is driven by the demands of Net-a-Porter’s customers, for whom sustainability is a major selling point, she said.
“We’ve seen the interest in sustainable fashion growing from the Net-a-Porter customer for a while now, from what they are shopping on site to what they are asking through our personal shoppers,” von der Goltz said. “In response, we want to be able to provide a formalized section on our site enabling the choice to shop brands that provide and share the same values.”
While Net-a-Porter has carried sustainable brands and sustainable products in the past, including from Stella McCartney and Veja, this is the first time the retailer will be featuring those products’ sustainability in its marketing. Net-a-Porter, which posted more than $2 billion in revenue last year, produced a photo shoot with model Vivien Solari wearing the products — the photos will be used to promote the launch on across its social channels.
“The fashion world is facing a major shift in with regard to sustainability,” said Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, an organization promoting sustainability within luxury fashion. “Many brands have been working on it for years but are just not communicating it. Today, people are not passively taking information in — they are increasingly interested in what makes a company responsible and are seeking out the information.”
For now, Net Sustain will focus only on fashion, but in the future, it will expand to include beauty products and other sub-categories like vegan products.
“This is an important milestone in our long-term sustainability journey, which starts with being able to offer our customer a choice,” von der Goltz said.