MATERIALS & PRODUCT
Durability, natural fibres and timeless designs
High quality, natural fibres are at the heart of ZIMMERMANN collections, with silk, linen and cottons currently making up nearly 90% of our range.
ZIMMERMANN creates luxury garments and accessories that are designed to be treasured. We don’t chase trends. There is always an element of timelessness to our designs.
We know that our clients collect our pieces and consider them precious. They wear archival ZIMMERMANN pieces with new ones. Beyond this, ZIMMERMANN garments have multiple lives thanks to their high value on the resale market. In today’s fast fashion context, when many clothes are designed to be disposable, this is meaningful.
We celebrate craftsmanship, highly skilled artisanal techniques and originality through our unique prints, custom-designed laces, trims and finishes. Many of our garments feature intricate embellishments and handwork that take many hours, and great expertise, to produce.
These are clothes our clients invest in, and we invest in them too: with time, care and obsessive attention to detail, from the design stage right through to the finished garment. This is what we mean when talk about creating collections for durability and longevity.
Natural fibres account for nearly 90% of our collections, the majority being silk, linen, and cotton. We limit the use of synthetics to garments such as swimwear, slips and pleated items that require nylon, elastane or polyester for specific functional reasons.
We select our fabrics for quality, texture and wearability. We are regularly looking for opportunities to use fabrics from sustainable sources; for example, we are proud members of The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and since early 2021 we have used organic linen for T-shirting, and nylon made from recycled plastic in our swimwear linings.
Here’s a breakdown of fabrics we use:
Percentage of Volume FY21
Natural fibre total
Yes. Our collections are fur-free, We adopt the Fur Free Alliance’s definition of fur which includes all fur derived from animals primarily raised for fur production.
We do not use Angora.
We do not use banned animal-derived materials, including vulnerable or endangered species included on either the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists.
Yes, we use a small amount of leather in our Runway Collections (currently under 1%). While our footwear and accessories businesses are currently a small part of our product volume, around 60% of the styles in these categories also use leather. These items are made in Italy, Australia and Portugal.
We only source from tanneries with a proven track record on traceability and standards that meet our criteria, and all our suppliers have signed our Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes provisions on good animal husbandry. However, there is still work to do. The Leather Working Group is an international, not-for-profit membership organisation responsible for the world’s largest leather sustainability program. We aim to source only from tanneries that are members of the Leather Working Group (LWG) and continue to actively research new partners and opportunities to contribute to a more responsible leather supply chain from farm to tannery.
Although wool products form a small part of collections (under 2% currently), it is essential that we source wool from suppliers that meet our standards on animal welfare as outlined in our Supplier Code of Conduct.
We aim to only work with non-mulesed wool completely by 2025 and we are on track to achieve this target as we have already made significant progress
As mentioned, we do not use fur, angora or any materials derived from vulnerable or endangered species.
Animal-derived materials, such as wool and cashmere, account for less than 3% of our total material spend across all garment categories. This is an important area for us, and we are committed to sourcing materials that have been produced following industry best practices and standards, taking a stand against inhumane and unethical practices in animal husbandry. We have rolled out an Animal Welfare Policy to guide the design team in sourcing animal-derived fibres that comply with the highest animal welfare standards ensuring, at a minimum, that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are upheld.
ZIMMERMANN is a proud member of the Better Cotton Initiative. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world, which exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, the environment it grows in and the future of fashion.
Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products due to the complexity of the cotton supply chain and the likelihood of being mixed with other cottons in the process. For this reason, Better Cotton is sourced through, ‘Mass Balance’, where farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we ‘source’.
Responsible, holistic farming is at the forefront of BCI’s mission. Registered farmers receive in-depth training surrounding water efficiency, caring for soil health and natural habitats, reducing the use of harmful chemicals and respecting workers’ rights and well-being. There are currently 2.1 million licensed BCI farmers in 23 countries around the world.
We are committed to sourcing 50% of our cotton as ‘more sustainable cotton’ by the end of 2021 and aim to increase our Better Cotton sourcing up to 70% by the end of 2022. ‘More sustainable cotton’ includes cotton sourced as Better Cotton, recycled, Fairtrade and organic cotton. At the end of June 2021, we had already sourced 22% of our annual cotton supply through BCI.
We currently use a small amount of organic cotton in our crochet swimwear and we aim to identify opportunities to use more organic cotton.
Denim has not traditionally been a large part of our collections but it is growing, with a new and environmentally friendly design direction. In our Code of Conduct we have banned sandblasting, and washing techniques that impregnate either materials or stones with bleaching agents (including hypochlorite bleach and/or potassium permanganate).
In order to maximise recycling potential, in some collections, we have opted not to use blended materials (denim with elastane) and chosen 100% cotton instead. There are no metal trims on the back of garments, to aid easier recycling post-consumer use.
With our denim, we are also progressing the use of cotton that has been sourced in partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), furthering ZIMMERMANN’S commitment to improving cotton farming practices globally through the brand’s proud BCI membership. Although Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products, BCI Farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we source.
Prints are key to our collections. All of our fabrics are digitally printed rather than screen printed. According to Texintel, typical water usage for screen printing is around 50-60 litres per metre, while digital printing can use less than two.
Of the 50-plus print and dye mills we worked with in FY2021, 71% had OKEO-TEX100 certification and 19% were ISO 14001:2015 certified. Constant improvement is an ongoing goal. Our sourcing team is working closely with the mills to improve these statistics.
To briefly explain these terms: OEKO-TEX100 is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished and finished textile products at all processing levels. To attain OKEO-TEX100 certification, the mill process has been tested and certified to be free from detrimental levels of more than 100 substances known to be harmful to human health.
ISO 14001:2015 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system. It provides a framework that an organisation can follow and ensures the implementation of proactive initiatives to protect the environment from harm.
We use independent auditing services to verify these certifications.
We actively work to exclude harmful chemicals from our textile supply chains. This is managed by ensuring our printing and dyeing mills have OKEO-TEX100 certification and by testing all fabrics for restricted chemicals, such as AZO dyes, formaldehyde, and phthalates. We have also adopted the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) as a standard to ensure the progressive elimination of hazardous chemicals from our manufacturing process. In June, we held a further training session for our tier 1 and 2 suppliers where we discussed our ongoing sustainability commitments and expectations, including training modules in relation to chemical management and MRSL.
It starts with our fabrics. We buy the highest quality fabric and begin thinking about durability at the design stage, looking at every detail from linings to trims. We partner with highly skilled manufacturers, who build these garments to last.
Timeless design is one of our signatures, and we know that our clients collect our pieces and consider them precious. ZIMMERMANN garments have second, third, even fourth lives thanks to a high value on the resale market.
Because we do not focus on synthetics, most of our garments require dry-cleaning or handwashing. Some feature fine silks, delicate laces and trims. Ideally, clients will use their judgement to reduce the number of times garments are cleaned, for example when an unsoiled garment can simply be aired. Where possible, we encourage our clients to choose a green/eco dry-cleaning service - these are becoming more popular and easier to access. For hand-washable garments, we recommend choosing a gentle soap, and line dry out of direct sunlight.
We are constantly reviewing ways to recycle and reduce textile waste. While some waste is inevitable, we do the following to minimise it across our production processes:
Upcycle & on-sell – we sell as much of our excess fabric as we can to resellers for use by other designers. Where possible, we also over-dye old season colours to use in new season collections.
Circular yarn initiatives – we are participating in three textile-to-textile recycling pilot programs where existing unused fabric is being re-constituted into yarn for new knitted or woven fabrics. This has helped us repurpose some excess materials and will enable their reuse in our coming collections. We have already repurposed approximately 8% of our excess fabrics volume through this program.
Sustainable fabric - there are existing swimwear fabrics that are partly made from recycled plastic material. The current quality for the main swimwear fabric does not meet our quality standards for colour or performance, but they are improving, and we are continuing to assess them. However, we have developed a swimwear lining fabric using this technology which has been used in our swimwear since early 2021. Beyond swimwear, we are actively sampling recycled materials to use in other product categories. At the end of the 2021 financial year approximately 77% of the swimwear lining volumes were made of recycled nylon.
Donate – we donate fabric and other materials to various fashion colleges. We recently donated 1000 meters of fabric to the winner of the emerging sustainable fashion design competition, the Redress Design Award, for use in their debut collection for The R. Collective platform. Other fabric is donated to charities and NGOs.
We are aware that social and environmental risks go deeper in the supply chain and appreciate the need to gain better visibility of our upstream supply chain beyond tier 2 suppliers. We are exploring ways to better manage the impact that our business has on people and the environment well beyond our direct suppliers. So far, we have engaged with our largest fabric suppliers to trace the materials we use back to tier 4. We have begun from cotton and silk which account for 56% of our total fabric mix. To date, 57% of our cotton spend and 39% of our silk spend have been mapped out to Tier 4.