Zara’s OCA Project and Why it is so Important?

With customers becoming more aware of the supply chain and production practices of fashion brands, these brands are now paying close attention to projects that would help enhance their credibility in the industry especially when it comes to sustainable fashion.

One such example is Zara’s collaboration with OCA for the OCA project.

What is the OCA project?

As part of their sustainability strategy, Zara works on several projects for the development of organic cotton.

Zara is one of the founding partners of the organic cotton accelerator (OCA), in collaboration with other sector organizations. It is an initiative supporting organic cotton farmers to ensure that the organic cotton sector grows in a sustainable way that benefits everyone—from farmer to consumer.

Their work with OCA and the suppliers enables us to work directly with the Indian farmers growing the organic cotton. Farmers are at the center of the program, working directly with field specialist who accompanies them continuously, helping them with training and follow-up programs both during the process of growing organic cotton and then with the crop management

Transparency on the origin of the cotton allows Zara to improve the livelihoods of organic farmers while managing the integrity of organic cotton. 

Zara is working directly with the farmers to control the production and supply of the organic cotton being produced. Currently Zara is working with 8-10 farmers in the India. Zara is being completely transparent about the farmers, the organizations helping them and all other details.

Why is the OCA project important?

Organic cotton farming has a lot of benefits.

Grown the right way, organic cotton farming uses natural fertilizers and pesticides and avoids the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOS). 

These processes not only reduce CO2 emissions and help us preserve local biodiversity, by using natural farming techniques farmers can combine the cotton with other crops such as turmeric, oranges or tomatoes, among others. This crop rotation helps them manage field on a more profitable way, having productions during the whole year, while preserving soil fertility.

For the farmers, this project is a great opportunity to learn and utilize the techniques taught to them by the field specialist. This is not only useful for this particular project but can help them in the long term.

From the business stand point, the project really pushes Zara one step closer to meeting their sustainability goals. Being one of the biggest fast fashion brands in the world, everything that Zara does is closely observed and scrutinized by the industry. And after all of their previous scandals from the rana plaza incident in Bangladesh to the export company situation in Turkey, Zara has been under the radar for its practices and methods. This project gives them a little nudge in improving their existing join life campaign.

Currently Zara only has a very few products made with the OCA project produce, however, the merchandise from the join life campaign is also made from organic cotton. So, if you are in a Zara store and are looking for a more sustainable option than the regular clothes, be sure to look out for the join life label on the clothing. 

Frankly speaking, I do not expect Zara to be a completely sustainable fashion brand, especially when comes to the fabrics as sourcing sustainable fabrics can alter their existing production chain and their turn around time for producing new collections (currently it is 2-3 weeks as compared to the industry average of 5-6 months). But these projects a great way to incorporate sustainability into their collection. Zara obviously has many other smaller initiatives both related to clothing and the supply chain that help them achieve their goals.

Do let me know in the comments below, what do you think of the project and if you would be willing to buy something from the project?

All images used in this post are from Zara's official website. If you want to know more about the project, click here.