It’s beautiful. It’s luxurious. But is Zimmermann sustainable? Some would say so. Let’s check the facts
By Chiara Gabardi Spagnoli
They say ‘sisterhood is powerful.’ And that’s definitely true for sustainable fashion label Zimmermann.
In 1991, Australian sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann created a fashion brand that quickly became synonymous with feminine sophistication.
Zimmerman was originally sold – rather informally – in the Paddington markets in Sydney. This old-school means of presenting fashion creations to buyers allowed the sibling designers to get first-hand feedback from their clients.
For example, the prêt-à-porter brand learned their clients wanted swimwear. So today, their chic bikinis, one-pieces and resort wear is amongst the most coveted clothing for ladies who lunch – near the beach, of course!
Soon, the label became so popular, it expanded from Down Under to around the world. Plus, it now includes kids wear, footwear and accessories. Throughout the years, Zimmermann has been praised by celebrities from Beyoncé to Margot Robbie, as well as Gigi and Bella Hadid, to mention a few. And many fans claim they’re proud to wear Zimmermann because it’s a sustainable label.
Hmm. Is it, though?
We all know being super chic and popular isn’t enough for fashion these days. It needs to be conscious and conscientious, too. So, does Zimmermann fit the bill?
First of all, let’s look at the label from a social angle. The Aussie brand has established partnerships with factories and suppliers that allows to empower their workers. In fact, Zimmermann regularly actively engages in initiatives that promote human rights, support communities and protect the natural environment.
Moreover, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are at the core of the brand’s philosophy. For instance, Zimmermann hired a Sustainability Group and Sustainability Manager to ensure that design, production, supply chain and retail operations are all ethical. This extends to the concepts of diversity and inclusion.
But that’s not all! The Australian brand is dedicated to encouraging youthful talent through their Zimmerman Graduate Program. This assists the development of the next generation interested in working in fashion, no matter what their race, gender, or ability.
So far, so good! But the brand lets us down with their sustainability.
Is Zimmermann’s Fashion Eco Friendly?
On their website, Zimmermann states:
ZIMMERMANN takes sustainability seriously. Our design, sourcing, retail and logistics teams are constantly evaluating the best options in this fast-changing space, and we are committed to being transparent about our journey. We are actively implementing policies and processes to ensure that ZIMMERMANN is a responsible fashion business. Specific details on policies, goal setting, actions, initiatives and partnerships across our business within each of our three sustainability pillars – Materials and Products, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, and Environment – are outlined in this Sustainability section.
What we discovered is the following. Yes, they state the materials used. But which online shop doesn’t?
Yes, they give us info about their manufacturing and supply chain. Great. But the materials they use are far from eco-friendly in many cases.
Zimmerman is a bit sustainable in that they use a lot of biodegradable fabrics, like wool, silk and linen. Loads of linen, in fact!
They also state that they’re a ‘slow fashion’ brand, with items that are designed to last for ages.
But there are lots of reasons why Zimmermann isn’t considered sustainable, too. Namely:
- A lot of toxic, animal-based materials like leather are used
- They use non-biodegradable fabrics like viscose and lycra, especially in their swimwear
- The brand carries accessories, such as gold necklaces and sunglasses, that are not sustainable whatsoever, as far as we can see.
And that’s a shame. There are so many ways this brand could be more sustainable, if they really wanted to.
How Zimmermann Could Be More Sustainable
There’s really no excuse for a luxury designer fashion label NOT to be sustainable these days.
After all, Stella McCartney has been vegetarian since its inception. And Mara Hoffman completely overhauled her entire business to be eco friendly and vegan within just a few months. Hats off to her!
While maintaining their great ethical approach to fashion, there are plenty of things Zimmermann could do to be more sustainable. Here are our top recommendations:
- Stop using animal products. We’d consider their use to be unethical.
- Swap leather for plant based leathers like those based on cactus or apples
- Change all non-biodegradable materials for those based on plants, like organic cotton or Tencel
- Ensure all swimwear that requires waterproof material is created from recycled nylon and other fabrics
- Use deadstock fabric when other options aren’t available
There can be no doubt that Zimmermann creates beautiful clothing. But this popular luxury label isn’t yet as sustainable as they claim. In this day and age, there’s really no reason why they can’t do better.
What do you think? Is Zimmermann sustainable enough? Let us know in the comments!