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Feb 13, 2023
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Zalando and Nikolaj Storm create "honest" circular capsule, highlight the challenges they faced

Feb 13, 2023

Fashion e-tail giant Zalando has launched an exclusive capsule collection with Danish designer Nikolaj Storm. And to add to its commitment to sustainability and transparency, a report by global sustainability consultancy Anthesis accompanies the offer.

Zalando x Nikolaj Storm

The 13-piece capsules is called Synthesizer and is inspired by “fluorescent colours and the sound of electro and techno beats, as well as the cracking sound of nylon”.

It’s interesting in that the designer “made the conscious decision to help change the perception of synthetics by producing the collection only using synthetic fibres - including recycled polyester and Lycra T400, an inherently elastic type of polyester fibres”. 

Storm said this helps the garments to be more durable, “allowing for repeated recycling without the product diminishing in quality”. The fibres also allow for “bolder colours and better retention, with clothing not losing its shape, a reason why it is used in sportswear”.

It was created using circular.fashion’s Circular Design Criteria, which Zalando has been an active partner in developing. The aim here is for products to be made with safe and recycled and/or renewable inputs; products to be made to last longer, be repaired and potentially also carry digital product passports; and products to be recycled or regenerated into new materials when they reach end of life.

All items in the new collection reach at least the minimum level of the criteria.

Adaptations to fit this include wider seams to enable easy alteration, zips to allow products to transcend seasons by switching from trousers to shorts, and care and repair QR codes on every style to enable consumers to understand how they can extend the product life cycle.

The certification process is quite demanding and one interesting aspect of all this is that one of the original styles didn’t make the grade so couldn’t receive the correct certification and therefore was removed from the collection. But the company decided to partner with The Dematerialised web3 e-commerce platform, which created a digital counterpart of the design as an AR Filter to be used on Snapchat and worn virtually.

In an age when companies are being called out for greenwashing and hyping up their circularity achievements, both Storm and Zalando have been honest about the challenges and limitations they faced. 

Nikolaj Storm said: “This was such an empowering journey for me as a designer – to be able to create something that tries to push the industry boundaries but also stays true and honest about the process, highlighting how much it takes for a product to be circular. I wanted to create a collection that told the story and development of the process, showing that we are not fully there yet but striving to be the absolute best version that we can be at this current moment.”

And Laura Coppen, Head of Circularity at Zalando, added: “With Nikolaj Storm, we found a fertile collaboration ground: building on his great knowledge and design skills, we raised the bar by challenging and upskilling him on circular design. We are thankful for this collaboration, and are excited to showcase his strong designs, together with insights and learnings on the road blocks we encountered and how we tackled them together.”

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