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Empowering sustainable fashion choices

#Group News
The call from consumers for more sustainable retail options has grown in recent years. The fashion industry has a substantial environmental footprint, but by welcoming sustainable brands, and by providing key facilities for visitors in our centres, we can empower people to make responsible consumer choices as well.

As part of our corporate social responsibility programme, Better Places 2030, we made several commitments to ensure our visitors could find more information, more sustainable alternatives and more services to empower them on their sustainability journey.

Our assets welcome millions of visitors each year, and we host a wide array of fashion brands. Our position brings with it the responsibility to encourage sustainable practices when it comes to consumption. The clear trend in recent years shows that this is not only desired by our visitors, but increasingly, expected.

Our shopping destinations are platforms for sustainable brands, for brands that are actively pursuing a sustainability journey, and for innovative services support our visitors. Our commitment to building sustainably better places has proved fruitful: already two of our UK shopping centres and 12 French centres have achieved zero waste to landfill goals. But there is still more to be done.

So, what does URW do to support practical solutions to live and shop more sustainably?

By attracting sustainable brands, we can embrace innovative retail formats that can influence consumer behaviour and offer our visitors more options for pursuing their own sustainable fashion ambitions.

In 2020, 24 of our European centres welcomed or signed deals with new sustainable brands, including:
  • Movesgood, a sustainable fashion apparel brand opened a pop up at Westfield Mall of Scandinavia and Täby Centrum
  • Kitikate, a brand selling organic-certified cotton infant clothes launched their kiosk at Centrum Cerny Most
  • SIRPLUS, a contemporary menswear brand that upcycles surplus fabric opened at Westfield London.

By ensuring a diverse offer of sustainable initiatives and brands for our visitors we can respond to their growing demand for more responsible products and services, and promote brands looking to make a difference. This means both working with new innovative tenants and collaborating with existing tenants to support their own journey to become more sustainable, promoting their efforts.

Beyond the brands found in our centres, there are many other ways our assets are adapting to support responsible consumption. To help raise awareness and facilitate customer’s eco-gestures, 61% of our flagship assets supported and promoted consumption initiatives in 2020. Here are a few examples:
  • Shopping City Süd held an eco-fashion show to showcase Haute Couture Austria’s sustainable “green label” collection and promote a denim recycling programme
  • Westfield Chodov has launched a dedicated sustainability microsite, which provides information on the tenant brands’ sustainable efforts in terms of material choices, processes and logistics, and the circularity services available in the centre and in stores, such as the take back program for second-hand items. The microsite features a blog by slow fashion influencer Kamilla Vodochodská, addressing specific sustainability themes and inviting visitors to try a more ecological shopping style in the centre
  • Villeneuve 2 organized Do It Yourself workshops, where 65 participants learnt how to upcycle clothes and textiles in partnership with the local fashion school Esmod Roubaix. A fabric collection point was also set up in the centre.

By empowering our customers, we can make a lasting difference here and now. Our centres are hubs of activity, community support and cooperation. We enable more eco-friendly behaviours for many in the communities around our centres. This can be seen in the success of the textile recycling points and swap shops we have hosted in the past year.
  • 18 of our centres have partnered with local companies and NGOs to reuse or recycle second-hand clothes. Despite the sanitary restrictions in 2020, they still managed to collect 129.5 tons of textiles
  • We partnered with the French Red Cross to set up a reverse store concept in nine French centres, where visitors can drop off clothes and textiles to be resold or recycled. Proceeds from this initiative helped to fund community outreach
Through a combination of efforts such as these, URW’s centres helped to breathe new life into 147 tons of fabric overall in 2020.

Visitors, brands, centres and Group, we are all on the way towards making more sustainable fashion practices part of our retail norm. We embrace our role in boosting and connecting sustainable brands with the consumers that are looking for them.