Slowing and Closing the Loop
Sustainable fashion: a holistic approach
A sustainable and responsible textile strategy does not just encompass the textile production process. Decisions are made regarding sustainability at an earlier stage, when the products are being developed and materials selected. And even after they have been sold, when they are being worn, recycled and disposed of, it is possible to contribute towards the sustainable use of textiles.
Our own label brands
Around 2% of our sales come from textiles. Of these, 53% are third-party textile brands. When it comes to own label brands, Coop Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio take centre stage. These brands are sourced in collaboration with suppliers and long-standing partners in accordance with our own guidelines. That means Coop influences aspects such as the colour, the cut and the required social and environmental standards when creating collections.
Coop Naturaline accounts for around one third of our own brand textile sales. Naturaline is synonymous with 100 percent organic cotton, 100 percent fair production, 100 percent transparency in the supply chain and 100 percent CO2 neutrality. We are the world's second largest retailer of fair-trade organic cotton textiles. Our fully transparent and monitored production process is unique.
Using a QR code and tracking number, anyone can trace an item of Coop Naturaline clothing from the origin of its cotton through to the manufacturer. At least 70 percent by weight of the textile base material (flat knitted or woven fabrics) must consist of organically grown materials (bioRe cotton) or materials obtained under conditions of humane animal husbandry.
For the Coop own label brands Sergio and Nulu, we use sustainable cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative. As a cotton standard, the Better Cotton Initiative promotes fair, environmentally friendly and sustainable cotton production. The aim is to manufacture 80 percent of all own label textile brands from sustainable cotton by 2020.
As well as cotton, we concentrate on high-class materials such as Merino wool, pure new wool, silk and modal. During procurement, the focus is on upmarket fabrics that meet customer requirements.
The use of chemicals in own label brands plays an important role early on in the design phase. By systematic preventive management, we exclude the use of all the chemical groups highlighted by Greenpeace in our own label products. This means that materials, colours and prints can only be used if they do not involve the use of harmful chemicals. Switching to chemicals that comply with the «detox» standards continues to represent a challenge for the industry, and we promote this through targeted awareness-raising in the supplier chain.
For our Naturaline, Nulu and Sergio own-label brands, the focus is on long-lasting fashion and timeless designs. The aim is to make these products easy to mix and match, and enable them to be worn for more than a single season. Our own label brands thereby set themselves apart from short-lived and transitory fashion.
Quality / value
For our own-brand labels, we set great store by high quality and production standards. With all our textiles, the focus is on high quality, long-lasting products. As well as undertaking quality management measures during production, we also carry out spot-checks of individual articles from collections, inspecting the performance of all our textile products in areas such as shrinkage, colour-fastness during washing, abrasion and pilling. We also check whether the claimed cutting dimensions meet the requirements we have defined.
We take a holistic approach to implementing sustainability in the textile supply chain. At various levels, we promote compliance with social and ecological requirements to guarantee the responsible manufacture of textiles, and implement our requirements as far back as the raw material stage.
Saying no to fast fashion
Textile life cycles not only need to be closed, but also slowed down. Decelerating collections and short-lived trends is the basis for consuming textiles responsibly. This is the only way we can reduce the excessive consumption of textile raw materials.
Our standard range of unchanging articles accounts for 70 percent of the Coop Naturaline selection. To ensure a dynamic look, we launch two seasonal collections each year for selected Naturaline products and our Nulu and Sergio own label brands.
We are taking a conscious stance against fast fashion, particularly with Coop Naturaline, with the aim of raising customer awareness of sustainable fashion.
Customers play a key role in the responsible use of textiles. By washing, ironing, drying and caring for them properly, they can influence the energy and water requirements of textiles. And last but not least, recycling clothes sensibly is crucial.
Reuse / recycle
Our goal is to keep wearable clothing in circulation for as long as possible and to recycle them professionally at the end of their life. The most sensible way to recycle clothing items that are no longer worn by the original buyers is for them to be passed on and remain in use as clothing. This result is also confirmed by the eco-audit we initiated on reusing and recycling clothing.
Collaboration with Tell-Tex
Tell-Tex collection containers for clothing and shoes are located in 503 of our sales outlets. Tell-Tex is a charitable organization that collects textiles and ensures that items of clothing are collected, sorted and recycled under expert guidance. The proceeds from the use of the items of clothing placed in the containers are donated to Coop Aid for Mountain Regions, amongst other organizations. In 2016, the proceeds from clothing collections supported Swiss mountain farmers to the tune of CHF 514'517.
Mountain farmers are also able to order good-as-new clothing from the clothing collection, free of charge. In 2016, 354 free clothing parcels were sent to mountain farmers in Switzerland.
Thanks to our joint initiative with Tell-Tex, we are able to accept clothing at almost all of our branches, thereby supporting important social projects.
With our own label textile brands, we want to create sustainable innovation throughout the entire textile life cycle, and implement measures in relevant areas, not only where they sound good, but where they will actually generate sustainable added value.
One challenge in reusing textiles is their recyclability. Many textile products are composed of several different fibres (for example, 98 percent cotton and 2 percent elastane). This mix of fibres is used for the comfort, quality and durability of products, and is therefore not easy to replace.
For this reason, we are supporting the «Texcycle» research project, which is being carried out by the University of Lucerne and Texaid. This project involves analyzing and optimizing the processes for treating old clothing with the aim of closing textile lifecycle loops or making them more sustainable by upcycling and recycling textiles.
Textile recycling eco-audit
Together with Quantis and in collaboration with Swiss textile collectors, we have conducted an eco-audit on the collection of textiles and their reuse after collection.