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When youth tackle diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry

15 December 2021

What happens when you ask high school students how to make the fashion industry more inclusive?

Zalando invited students from Germany, Spain and Sweden to pitch their ideas for a more diverse and inclusive fashion industry, at Zalando’s first ever Diversity & Inclusion Forum. The students were the finalists of “Fashion Goes Next”, our joint initiative with Zalando which aims to build the attitudes, skills and mind-sets of the next generation of young entrepreneurs, while transforming the fashion industry.

 

After months of ideation, preparation, and competitions at the national and European levels, which involved no less than 300 students from across Europe, the final ideas were revealed at the Forum, in front of 400 DEI professionals from the fashion industry and Zalando employees.

The German team, composed of Lena, Richard, Justin and Kevin, won the hearts and minds of the jury, with their idea to produce trousers people in wheelchairs can put on their own:

 

The Spanish students Paula, Laura, Miguel, Gonzalo and Jesus know people with a disability called achondroplasia, and their daily struggle to find appropriate clothing and came up with an idea to help them:

 

Ida, Ned, Padasht, Ayuub and Zeb from Sweden proposed to make the Zalando app and websites more inclusive, for customers who don’t recognize themselves in the categories proposed by the fashion platform:

 

Vikki Leach, Diversity and Inclusion Director at Zalando, said that “Our latest research with more than 7,000 participants from different European countries shows that two in five people supported a D&I or Sustainability cause over the last year. However, among adults under 25, this figure is already one in two. To dive further into this topic, and work with young people on the future of fashion and what the customer experience could look like, we partnered with JA Europe. We are convinced that change cannot be pushed on customers, but that they are the source of it. It therefore felt natural to give a platform for young people to hear their voices. We are delighted about our collaboration with JA Europe and look forward to the next steps.”

Fashion Goes Next gives students in secondary schools both a real-life experience with one of the world’s leading fashion actors, as well as a chance to build their attitudes, skills and mind-sets and prepare for the world of work.

Students who have participated in entrepreneurship programmes while at school are better equipped to become entrepreneurs, also less likely to drop out or be unemployed, and more likely to earn higher incomes and be satisfied with their careers.

Salvatore Nigro, CEO of JA Europe said that “the creativity of young people is boundless, especially when they feel they contribute to our society’s most burning issues. Helping them develop their entrepreneurial mind sets, grow their confidence and have a peek at what their future professional lives could look like, are priceless opportunities. We are very grateful to Zalando for this great partnership.”

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