Will Nordstrom’s sustainable fashion site win over eco-conscious consumers?

Discussion
Source: shop.nordstrom.com/c/sustainable-style
Aug 27, 2019
Tom Ryan

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. 

Nordstrom launched the section last week 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.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see healthy consumer appeal for Nordstrom’s online portal focused on sustainable products? Will overall demand for sustainable products likely take another leap forward in the years ahead?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I am very curious to see how Nordstrom does, and expect to see similar initiatives from lower-end retailers as well."
"Looking forward to seeing not only how this plays out for Nordstrom, but how the entire retail and fashion industry may potentially follow this eco-conscious movement."
"I hope one day soon we won’t need special webpages and catalogs for sustainable fashion because all products will be environmentally responsible …"

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16 Comments on "Will Nordstrom’s sustainable fashion site win over eco-conscious consumers?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I believe the demand for sustainable products will grow significantly. This is the right thinking for the times and Nordstrom and the other signatories are to be commended. That said, actions speak louder than words so the real proof will be in how these intentions translate into meaningful action by the retailers/brands. I hope the demand for sustainable products leaps forward and soon – our future depends on this and other activities to ameliorate the damage we have already done to our environment.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

If anywhere, sustainably sourced products have a chance of thriving at Nordstrom, where shoppers are less price sensitive. I applaud their efforts and welcome the emphasis on the environment. I hope one day soon we won’t need special webpages and catalogs for sustainable fashion because all products will be environmentally responsible …

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Well said Dave! With greater concern for our environment and the impact of global warming on climate change, I hope all manufacturers adopt sustainable practices with or without regulations. The world would be a better place.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Thanks, David — agreed!

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Yes, demand for sustainable products of all kinds will continue to grow. And 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. But 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.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Considering the brands mentioned, it seems like a good idea and that they get it. Certainly a brand from the great Pacific Northwest has less of a cred issue about this than say, someone based in Manhattan who has never said boo about it. Plus it’s important, so good effort in my opinion.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

This is really interesting to me. In fact, we just decided to do a benchmark survey (both consumers and retailers) next year on this very topic. I think retailers are WAY behind today’s younger consumer, regardless of income level, in appreciating the value of sustainability. I am very curious to see how Nordstrom does, and expect to see similar initiatives from lower-end retailers as well.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I will be very interested in your new benchmark, Paula – great idea to compare/contrast retailer attitudes versus consumer attitudes. I suspect your intuition is right, and will definitely be interested to see if your study findings confirm!

Michael Decker
BrainTrust
Michael Decker
Vice President, Marketing Strategy
18 days 22 hours ago

Perfect for Nordstrom. How H&M signs a deal like that is beyond me. But the times are changing and retailers must adapt or die. Millennials and Zs will rightly buy (or rent) sustainable products and keep clothing for a long time. Classic styles will redevelop. Fewer trends mean more planet…

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Sustainability is huge, and so important. My friend Kerry Bannigan started the Conscious Fashion Campaign, a call to action for brands, media and retail to commit to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda. She has made me – and the fashion world – more aware of how products are made, and how that affects people and the planet.

Good job, Nordstrom! It’s about time a retailer stood up and embraced sustainable fashion in a major way. I hope its Sustainable Style site encourages other retailers to get on board.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

There are several comments that refer to sustainable fashion being a Millennial and Gen X thing, so I asked Kerry (see above) for clarification. Here’s what she said:

“While Millennials and Gen Z are providing examples of purchasing with purpose, sustainable retail is an opportunity for all consumers generation-wide to shop their values. For some generations, these options may be new but can still be positively received.

Supporting sustainability is people driven, not to be generationally focused. All humans have the ability to care, learn, and give back. If sustainable retail is one platform to do this, then we should embrace it.”

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

The embracing of eco-friendliness and sustainability will increase at an accelerating pace. This is the right move by Nordstrom at the right time. Now it’s about due diligence and compliance. Brands and their products have to be authentic and not just spouting marketing fluff.

Shikha Jain
BrainTrust
Addressing sustainability has really taken off and become mainstream in the last three or four years. The fact that Zara, a fast fashion brand, wants to make all its cotton and linen material sustainable, organic and recyclable by 2025 and that H&M now has sustainable collections featured in their stores means that fashion retailers are not just listening to consumers but also recognizing that they have a big role to play. In a recent study at Simon-Kucher with ~800 consumers, we found that sustainability was the #2 most important CSR cause (after fair labor and fair trade practices). That said, sustainability has been increasing in importance but is still middle of the pack when it comes to the ranking of value drivers and comes after things like price, quality, brand, functionality, style, etc. Another interesting finding is that Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X care more about sustainability than Baby Boomers so while it is already late, it is also the right time for brands to become eco-conscious to capture the trend. Finally, sustainable clothing… Read more »
Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Social and environmentally sustainable strategies resonate more than ever with today’s consumer. Nordstrom is wise to align with this movement, and it’s a very commendable move by the firm. However it will all come down to the execution and delivering on these eco-conscious commitments. This will be where the rubber hits the road, and real tangible results will determine how successful Nordstrom’s sustainable fashion site will be.

Looking forward to seeing not only how this plays out for Nordstrom, but how the entire retail and fashion industry may potentially follow this eco-conscious movement.

Lauren Goldberg
BrainTrust

This should help Nordstrom appeal to Millennials/Gen Z, who are hyper-aware and embrace sustainability. Companies who take the lead on climate-related causes will earn credibility in the eyes of the customer.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Certainly there are good and bad, or at least bad and “not-as-bad” ways of making and shipping things and if this site honestly highlights them, then I think it will find its niche. How important that is in the big picture is harder to say. Yesterday (on a real estate-related blog) there was a discussion of the folly of LEED-certifying oversized houses. Is it really “eco-friendly” if your house only uses 5 times the resources of an average house, rather than 6 or 7? And I suspect much the same criticism could be leveled against “fashion” … can something that is designed for planned obsolescence ever really be sustainable?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I am very curious to see how Nordstrom does, and expect to see similar initiatives from lower-end retailers as well."
"Looking forward to seeing not only how this plays out for Nordstrom, but how the entire retail and fashion industry may potentially follow this eco-conscious movement."
"I hope one day soon we won’t need special webpages and catalogs for sustainable fashion because all products will be environmentally responsible …"

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