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This year marks the start of a decade of delivery in the sustainability space for YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP. We spoke to YNAP’s Director of Sustainability and Inclusion, Giorgia Roversi, about their 10-year Infinity plan

Can you talk us through the YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP Infinity plan?

At YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP, we are inspired by the possibilities the future holds and how we can play a role in shaping it. We see a future where the clothes we love last for longer and if they fade, may start a new beginning, forming part of a circular fashion system. A future where customers are empowered to make informed choices, and where luxury and fashion play their part in restoring balance to our planet. We believe in an inclusive future where our industry is truly diverse, and where the next generation is equipped with the skills to make a difference. Through our technology capabilities and the global influence we’ve grown over the past 20 years, our aim is to collaborate and foster an environment that allows our people, industry peers, brand partners and customers, who all want to see a change, to create a sustainable future together. Infinity is an ambitious vision, supported by both immediate and long-term initiatives, to achieve positive change.

What was the driving force behind this?

We have pioneered a number of sustainability initiatives over the last 10 years that we are incredibly proud of. YOOXYGEN, established on Earth Day in 2009, was the first online platform solely dedicated to responsible fashion and NET-A-PORTER’s NET SUSTAIN platform, celebrating brands with sustainability at their heart, has helped increase information and transparency on sustainability for customers. We also pioneered sustainable packaging in our industry with the ECOBOX at YOOX. We have seen the positive impact these changes have made, and that drives us forward to do more. We also listen very carefully to our customers, and they are telling us loud and clear this matters to them. YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP is the world leader in online luxury and fashion and we want to use scale and reach for good.

Tell us about the 12 targets to achieve by 2030 under the Infinity plan?

Infinity is a ten-year strategy that commits to four focus areas, each one designed to advance our ambition of providing circular luxury fashion to the world, and to connect people with the joy of luxury and fashion that lasts a lifetime and beyond. In order to deliver meaningful change, our long-term strategy combines an ambitious vision connected to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with tangible projects that will start to facilitate positive change today. In terms of the four focus areas, Circular Business is about connecting the loops in fashion, using innovation, new services and circular design to eliminate waste. Circular Culture is about using our global reach and editorial content to encourage more sustainable behaviours and habits through collaboration with our customers, colleagues and brand partners. Planet Positive aligns with our commitment to become climate positive, taking more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we generate, as well as sourcing and buying responsibly and protecting natural ecosystems. People Positive is designed to nurture and inspire the next generation, breaking down barriers to entry and equipping people with the skills they need to design a positive future – investing in our own people and external programmes to create a sustainable talent pipeline for luxury and technology.

How will you ensure Infinity is executed to the highest standard?

Each commitment is underpinned by specific actions and measurement tools to keep us on track. There will certainly be refinements along the way – this is an ambitious strategy and we do not have all the answers yet, but if you have a clear vision, passion, energy and a talented team to deliver, you can have confidence you will get there. The beauty of the process is discovering new solutions and sharing these along the way. Some of the best inventions we have had, like ECOBOX, are very simple in hindsight but can inspire people to think and act differently in order to create long-term meaningful change. I am excited to discover what the next innovation will be and to share this with our customers and industry!

What previous moves has YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP made towards making the platform more sustainable?

At YOOX NET-A-PORTER, we have a uniquely connected ecosystem across our 4 multi-brand stores, Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter, YOOX and The Outnet, which innately extends the commercial lifecycle of a product. We believe there is further untapped potential with this ecosystem and Infinity is designed to harness, explore and unlock this. At present, we work with many incredible brands who have placed sustainability at the heart of their mission, through our YOOXYGEN and NET SUSTAIN platforms, and it is our mission to use our global platform to promote their creativity and innovation. Most recently, our own private label brand, 8 By YOOX, and The Modern Artisan project, our training programme developed by YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP and The Prince’s Foundation, have explored sustainable and circular design principles. Infinity is designed to take our potential for circularity to a scale we have not seen before, from using data to design out waste, launching care and repair services to increase longevity, and piloting re-commerce services to allow garments to take on a new lease of life with new owners. As well as this, we have strong foundations in Digital Education and cultivating the next generation of women leaders in tech.

Are there any particular brands you will be working with and championing in order to spearhead the Infinity initiative?

We collaborate very closely with our Brand Partners, and this will be no different. We are excited to share our journey, learnings and opportunities to work together to innovate further, particularly within our pilot projects. In the past, we have worked with our partners on issues such as human, animal and environmental welfare, with an overwhelmingly encouraging response from our customers, and it is exciting to see what we will create together next.

Whilst this is an incredibly positive move by YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP, there are still so many fast fashion brands out there. Do you believe this will hinder positive moves like Net-A-Porter’s?

Luxury fashion is exemplified by quality materials, craftsmanship and beautiful design that stands the test of time. For many people, it is an investment. We want customers to fall in love with their purchases and cherish them for years to come, re-loving them and even passing them on to the next generations and new owners in the future.

Infinity also reaches beyond this. It is our commitment to explore how our industry can use technology to design out waste, to increase transparency for customers, to extend the life of products, to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, to redesign operations to be more efficient and greener. These learnings will benefit the whole industry and can be tailored and adapted.

How will you ensure the changes you make will last and make a meaningful impact? 

It is a big transformation and it’s important our people and teams are empowered to create change. It is by building a strong internal culture that you create a lasting legacy. We first launched Infinity internally, to ensure our colleagues shared our vision and understood the roadmap. Since then we have designed internal frameworks for listening, collaboration and sharing ideas, with training and designated leadership to ensure we stay focused on delivery. It is also by continuing to share our learnings, through collaboration across the industry and continuously innovating that we will reach our goals and play our part in accelerating positive change for our industry. We want to work in collaboration with our industry to help design a new blueprint for the future; sharing our learnings and experiences with others and welcoming them to do the same in return to drive progress even faster.

How do you plan to help your customers make more informed and conscious choices when it comes to shopping?

Investing time in storytelling is crucial for how we connect with, inform and inspire our customers. As a leading authority on style and fashion, we want to leverage the power of our editorial content to educate customers on sustainability and circular luxury fashion through dedicated sections. Sustainability stories have already been at the heart of flagship features across our PORTER and MR PORTER editorial outlets, whether raising awareness around saving our oceans, creating exceptional craftmanship content on independent, sustainable artisans and brands, or showing how to care for, re-use and recycle clothes. Kindling inspiration and reflection amongst our customers on issues that matter and can change mindsets will be a key force in our move to a more sustainable future for fashion. As well as this, we want to continue driving the movement for better information and transparency on sustainability credentials for products, and increase sustainability information throughout the entire customer journey. We want customers to feel empowered and confident they are making choices to support our planet and a more sustainable, inclusive and diverse future.

In your opinion, which demographics are the most conscious when it comes to sustainable practices and mindful purchasing?

Social media and digital communication have certainly empowered younger generations to take action. Not only do they have a powerful voice, they can connect directly with the consumer, designing new solutions that speak to the desire for change. In November 2020, we announced the winner of the Vogue YOOX Challenge – The Future of Responsible Fashion, a project to provide support and mentorship to designers, creatives and start-ups that are boldly investing in a more responsible and sustainable approach. The level of talent and creativity was astounding and filled me with great inspiration and optimism. The winner, SaltyCo, a UK based start-up, offers textiles for clothing and furniture made without the aid of freshwater, but instead using natural textile fibres from plants that grow in saltwater environments. The brand has been created by four young students who specialised in Innovation Design Engineering, and they can teach us so much.

What are the immediate changes you are making to kick-start Infinity?

There is a lot of activity already underway, with a particular focus on training and up-skilling in the initial phase. As we enter 2021 we are really excited to launch several new pilots, including exploration of the circular product journey within our own brands 8 by YOOX, MR P and Iris & Ink and trialling new care and repair pilots for our customers in key cities around the world. Our new Responsible Marketing Policy is already live internally, underpinning our plans to embed sustainability and circularity in brand campaigns in an authentic and considered way and we will continue to expand our incredibly successful NET SUSTAIN and YOOXYGEN platforms. It’s true to say that we are coming off the starting blocks with great momentum!

This is ‘The Positivity Issue’ – how will YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP be championing positivity in the year 2021?

What a great question! For me, this is the decade of delivery. There is a really beautiful energy created when you have a clear vision, you share this with your peers, and you can move forward with great clarity and purpose. It took time and consideration to design our Infinity strategy, and we are now in that really exciting phase where we get to unleash creativity, to work with new partners, to design, experiment and invent new solutions that have the potential to shape our future and truly delight our customers.

January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now

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