A woman passes the Nordstrom Local store, in New York's Upper East Side, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The new store that Nordstrom opened carries no merchandise and instead offers tailoring services and allows customers to pick up or return online. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nordstrom has become the first U.S.-based multi-line fashion retailer to offer an online shopping microsite dedicated to sustainable fashion. The Sustainable Style site features brands created from sustainably sourced materials, manufactured in factories that meet high social or environmental standards or that give back.
It was a move that received accolades from the industry experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust in a recent online discussion, with many noting the appeal to the new U.S. consumer.
"This should help Nordstrom appeal to Millennials/Gen Z, who are hyper-aware and embrace sustainability," wrote Lauren Goldberg, principal at LSG Marketing Strategies. "Companies who take the lead on climate-related causes will earn credibility in the eyes of the customer."
"I think retailers are way behind today’s younger consumer, regardless of income level, in appreciating the value of sustainability," wrote Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research. "I am very curious to see how Nordstrom does, and expect to see similar initiatives from lower-end retailers as well."
Nordstrom launched the section in August when the company joined the G7 Fashion Pact, a coalition of 32 global fashion retailers and suppliers representing 150 brands that have pledged to minimize the environmental impacts that the fashion industry has across oceans, climate and biodiversity.
“You’ve told us that you want consciously manufactured products that align with your values. We want those things too,” Nordstrom wrote on the Sustainable Style landing page.
The section features over 2,000 products from 90 brands, including Patagonia, Reformation, Eileen Fisher, Toms, Veja and Nordstrom’s own Treasure & Bond. Brands are sorted based on whether they are sustainably sourced, responsibly manufactured or give back through charities.
The site aims to make sustainable shopping more accessible. The retailer noted that it is also taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint and conserve resources across its supply chain to minimize its eco-impact.
“I know our customers and employees will be excited and proud that we’re part of this new effort,” said Pete Nordstrom, co-president of the company, in a statement.
The Fashion Pact, prompted by French President Emmanuel Macron and being presented at the G7 summit, stands out for its broad representation across the fashion industry and focus on transparency and accountability. Signatories committed to greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy, single-use plastic elimination and other eco-goals.
Efforts toward more sustainable fashion are expected to work against the disposable fashion trend, although two fast-fashion leaders, H&M and Zara-owner Inditex, also signed the pact. Other signatories include Gucci-owner Kering, Burberry, Gap and Nike.
Several recent surveys have shown consumers are increasingly looking for sustainable products as climate change has become a bigger concern. According to a June survey from Accenture, half of consumers would pay more for sustainable products designed to be reused or recycled and 72 percent were currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago.
Some RetailWire BrainTrust members noted that such actions should someday be table stakes for doing business.
"I applaud their efforts and welcome the emphasis on the environment," wrote Dave Bruno, director at Retail Market Insights. "I hope one day soon we won’t need special web pages and catalogs for sustainable fashion because all products will be environmentally responsible."
And as Evan Snively, loyalty strategist at Maritz Loyalty, pointed out, solving environmental challenges will go beyond purchase decisions at some point.
"While more environmentally friendly consumer options are progress in the right direction, curbing actual consumption itself is really what needs to take center stage to combat climate change," wrote Mr. Snively. "Until someone can figure out how to monetize people not using resources, brands that strive to reduce their supply chain impact and replenish the resources that they do use should be viewed in a very favorable light by consumers."