Zalando, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Higg Co Set New Sustainability Standard for Brands and Retailers

  • Collaboration to measure environmental and social sustainability impact across the fashion industry is more crucial now than ever, as the industry faces Coronavirus crisis
  • Zalando is the first retailer to use the Higg Brand & Retail Module from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to make sustainability assessment mandatory for its private labels and partner brands
  • This initiative moves the industry closer towards a system of standardized measurement that drives meaningful and lasting improvement


SAN FRANCISCO/BERLIN, 28 MAY 2020 // Today, Zalando, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co announced a new collaboration to accelerate a global sustainability standard in the fashion industry. Zalando is the first retailer to use the SAC’s updated version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM) to make sustainability assessment mandatory for brands selling on its platform. As part of this push toward industry-wide change, Zalando will gather comparable sustainability data from its partner brands to understand where the challenges of the industry are both individually and collectively. Higg BRM data will help Zalando identify trends and explore how to develop solutions to drive meaningful and lasting improvement in collaboration with its partner brands.

The Higg BRM is a tool that provides brands and retailers with a comprehensive way to assess their performance around ethical and environmental parameters such as human rights, fair wages or carbon dioxide emissions. Users can organize their sustainability priorities based on the results. All SAC brand and retail members will eventually use the Higg BRM to measure their sustainability performance and progress, making it possible for the apparel industry to compare sustainability at the brand level.

“As Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, we want to raise the bar, act first and bring our partners on the journey to address today’s most important issues: climate change, use of resources and worker rights. As part of our sustainability strategy, do.MORE, we have made assessments around ethical and sustainable parameters for our brand partners mandatory. The Higg BRM will help us achieve our goal to continuously increase our ethical standards and by 2023 only work with partners who align with them,” says Kate Heiny, Director Sustainability at Zalando.

“Zalando’s decision to require its partner brands to use the Higg BRM will serve as a catalyst for bringing the industry together towards a standard system for sustainability measurement. This is how we can implement and achieve lasting change,” says SAC Executive Director Amina Razvi.

“Sustainability” is a loaded term. It can be difficult to define and even more difficult to understand. There are hundreds of certificates, labels and initiatives in the market, and the line between where sustainability begins and ends can be blurry. All brands and retailers have their own assessments and different goals. The industry has been missing a common method to measure sustainable performance. Higg Co, a standalone technology company, was spun out of the SAC in 2019 to address this gap and develop technology behind the Higg Index and its suite of industry tools, including the Higg BRM, to accelerate global supply chain sustainability beginning with the fashion industry. Higg Co is working with Zalando to support the company and its partners in implementing the Higg BRM.

“The Higg BRM will establish a global standard for fashion brands and retailers to measure and talk about sustainability performance,” continues Kate. “For the first time we will have comparable data at brand level to identify improvement areas and work on solutions collaboratively. The SAC as an independent and globally structured organisation is positioned to drive this necessary change in the fashion industry.”

The SAC is the leading sustainability association for the apparel, footwear and textile industry. The coalition’s 250 global members collaborate to develop the Higg Index, a suite of five sustainability tools that assess social and environmental sustainability performance, identify areas for improvement and enable the environmental and social transparency consumers want. Higg Co develops the technology platform that hosts the Higg Index. “More strikingly than ever, the coronavirus crisis has brought to light many of the challenges the industry faces,” says Amina. “Maintaining strong business relationships, leading with values of sustainability and compassion for the health, safety and well-being of workers around the world, and leveraging sustainability as a lens for both recovery and rebuilding will be critical for the industry.”

About Zalando

Zalando is Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008, we bring head-to-toe fashion to around 32 million active customers in 17 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories and beauty. The assortment of international brands ranges from world famous names to local labels. Our platform is a one-stop fashion destination for inspiration, innovation and interaction. As Europe’s most fashionable tech company, we work hard to find digital solutions for every aspect of the fashion journey: for our customers, partners and every valuable player in the Zalando story. Our goal is to become the starting point for fashion.

About Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of more than 250 leading apparel, footwear and textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits, NGOs and academic institutions working to promote social justice throughout the global value chain and reduce the environmental impacts of products. Through multi-stakeholder engagement, the SAC seeks to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel, footwear and textile sustainability performance that spotlights priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. The SAC was incorporated as a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization and launched the groundbreaking Higg Index suite of tools in 2011. In May 2019, the SAC spun-off the Higg Index technology platform to the newly formed Higg Co. For more information, visit

About Higg Co

Higg Co is a technology company formed in 2019 to deliver, implement and support unified sustainability measurement tools for consumer goods industries, beginning with the Higg Index. The Higg Index is a suite of tools, originally developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), that enables brands, retailers and facilities of all sizes — at every stage in their sustainability journey — to accurately measure and score a company or product’s sustainability performance. The Higg Index delivers a holistic overview, enabling businesses to make meaningful improvements that protect the environment, well-being of factory workers and communities. For more information visit


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