On Tuesday, German retailer Zalando announced an investment in Infinited Fiber Co., following a string of brand investors in the sustainable fiber firm.
“We want to be part of the solution for a more sustainable fashion industry. With the investment in Infinited Fiber Company, we initiate a collaboration with a circular technology innovator to grow the industry share of textiles recycled into new textiles, which currently sits at only 1 percent,” said Zalando co-chief executive officer David Schneider.
The Finnish firm produces Infinna, a fiber made of 100 percent textile waste from sources like worn, cotton-rich clothing. The process works by first manually stripping away buttons and zippers, then mechanically shredding textile waste. From there, a series of chemical processes separate cellulosic material and transforms it into a new fiber that is both biodegradable and free of microplastics.
Infinited Fiber Co.’s cofounder and chief executive officer, Petri Alava said the strategic investment serves as “further indication of the fashion industry’s strong belief in our innovation,” adding that “Zalando’s vast brand portfolio and circularity initiatives provide a great basis to deepen our collaboration and to secure feedstock for our flagship plant.”
Zalando’s undisclosed investment is said to round out the funding round led by H&M, Adidas and Bestseller (totaling 30 million euros) from late June. Patagonia, which struck a deal with Infinited earlier that month, was the first domino investment. Through their multiyear agreements, all of the brands will secure access to the Infinna fiber, which will be produced at Infinited Fiber Co.’s flagship factory set to open in Finland by 2024.
In its strategic investment, Zalando will supply raw materials as feedstock for Infinna. Given its ability to replace virgin cotton, the fiber will be a choice material for Zalando’s private label production. Zalando carries more than 2,000 brands and produces 11 private labels, among them Anna Field, Zign and Zalando Essentials. With nearly 60,000 cotton products on Zalando’s site, private label represents about 8 percent of those products (or 4,000 items) with replacement potential, per WWD’s analysis.
Zalando is already training its private label teams and piloting Infinna within the Zign brand. The first beacon product will be showcased at the Design Museum in London for its “Waste Age” exhibit, which opens in October.
The investment complements Zalando’s stated goal to extend the life of at least 50 million fashion products by 2023.