- Boohoo is one of several fast fashion brands under investigation for sustainability practices.
- Critics claim recent efforts, like debuting more environmentally friendly collections, are acts of greenwashing.
- 'The most sustainable thing they can do is just cease operations altogether,' one critic said.
Fast-fashion brands are attempting to appeal to an increasingly eco-friendly audience, but critics aren't so sure their methods have the purest intentions.
UK-based fashion brand Pretty Little Thing and its parent company Boohoo are among the latest retailers facing scrutiny on claims they are misleading consumers that they are environmentally friendly, despite their reputations and investigations that say otherwise.
Boohoo was the latest to draw ire, after the fast-fashion giant announced a "sustainability and style" collaboration with Kourtney Kardashian Barker earlier this month. The 46-piece collection of garments is made from "recycled fibers," according to a release from Boohoo.
The partnership was met with heavy criticism on social media, Insider's Maria Noyen reported, as users slammed both Kardashian Barker and Boohoo for greenwashing — or "the act or practice of making (something) appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is," as defined by Merriam-Webster.
Several users pointed out that the company had previously been the subject of a 2019 investigation by the Sunday Times, which found Boohoo's UK factory workers were paid only £3.50, or $ 4.37, an hour.
—Zita (@zitacollier_) September 14, 2022
The controversy comes on the heels of a separate investigation into potential greenwashing at Boohoo, among other fast-fashion retailers, conducted by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in July, The Guardian reported.
"People who want to 'buy green' should be able to do so confident that they aren't being misled," Sarah Cardell, the interim CMA chief executive, told The Guardian. "Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine."
Pretty Little Thing also faced greenwashing accusations of its own after announcing its "Pretty Little Thing Marketplace" feature in August. The new app allows users to buy and sell pre-owned garments from PLT and other fashion brands, according to the official website.
Much like the reaction to PLT's parent company over the Kardashian Barker collection, social media and critics users were similarly not happy with the brand's efforts to appear more sustainable, HuffPost reported.
"Their products are trend-led and ultra-fast, meaning they're specifically not designed to be resold or have any longevity whatsoever, so resale is never on the cards for those items," Sustainable fashion editor Brett Staniland told HuffPost.
He continued: "The most sustainable thing they can do is just cease operations altogether."
Boohoo and PLT aren't the only fast fashion brands getting called out for their attempts to go green. Swedish brand H&M is being sued by a New York student who alleged she overpaid for clothes from the brand's "Conscious Collection" under the guise the products were more eco-friendly than they actually were.