Nordstrom on Friday said it's launching a new online page for more than 2,000 products from 90 brands "that are made from sustainably sourced materials, manufactured in factories that meet higher social or environmental standards or that give back."
On the same day, the department store also said that it has joined the G7 Fashion Pact, a coalition of 32 global retailers convened by French President Emmanuel Macron at the annual G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
While the Sustainable Style category is available online, "many of the products can be found in stores, so right now Nordstrom is exploring ways to help customers learn about and find these products in stores," a company spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email.
As consumers, especially younger ones, increasingly list environmental sustainability and social issues as important in their buying decisions, more retailers have moved to improve their records and, like Nordstrom last week, trumpet such initiatives.
Brands like Gap, Levi's, Abercrombie & Fitch and Patagonia, mass merchants like Target and Walmart and even fast-fashion giant H&M are all stepping up their efforts to clean up their supply chains and sell more sustainable goods. The movement is also helping stoke resale, and Macy's and J.C. Penney in recent days both announced partnerships with secondhand clothing site ThredUp to take part in that segment.
In an era when apparel sales in particular are challenged on several fronts and wallet share for clothing is shrinking, it can be an important differentiator.
"Nordstrom has a longstanding commitment to operating as a responsible company,” Nordstrom co-president Pete Nordstrom said in a statement. "I know our customers and employees will be excited and proud that we're part of this new effort that will make tangible and meaningful progress in areas that are critical to the future success of our business, our communities and the environment."
Retailers must take care to ensure that such efforts are bona fide, however, and not half-hearted or cynical marketing ploys that amount to so-called "green-washing," analysts say. Too many brands limit their sustainable collections to a small portion of their assortments or fail to ensure that their vendors are really being responsible, according to Jordan Nodarse, a fashion designer and founder of Boyish Jeans who uses sustainable materials throughout his supply chain.
"A lot of [apparel brands] are auditing their companies in house and they're only auditing their factories," he told Retail Dive in an interview earlier this year. "People don't care enough."
For its part, Nordstrom said that it has elevated sustainability within its operations "It's a responsibility Nordstrom takes seriously, and we're proud of the progress we've made in reducing our carbon footprint and conserving resources across our global supply chain and we're continuing to make this a top priority for the company," said Gigi Ganatra, vice president of corporate affairs and PR at Nordstrom.