While taking the London Tube recently I’ve noticed many posters advertising Pretty Little Thing’s new Marketplace platform. Supposedly their ‘sustainable’ alternative, the platform promotes the reselling of second hand garments. It’s giving ‘greenwashing’. It got me thinking a lot about another fast fashion label, Boohoo, and its announcement a couple weeks ago which shared the news that Kourtney Kardashian is now its ‘sustainability ambassador’. The irony is rife.
It’s estimated that Boohoo quickly churn out several million items each year, with many ending up in landfill and being harmful to the planet – something it appears the brand is now hoping to encourage consumers to ‘forgive and forget’ (if they were even aware in the first place), as they’ve announced Kourtney as a new ‘sustainability‘ ambassador.
As well as launching a new ‘sustainable’ capsule with the brand, which reportedly made an estimated turnover of £445.7 million between March and May of this year, Kourtney is set to front a four-part investigation into Boohoo’s “journey, from designing the Boohoo range to speaking to industry experts”, telling shoppers how they can be more ethical in their choices.
Kardashian Barker’s first line (with prices ranging from £5 to £75) dropped on September 13th and features 41 styles made with recycled polyester and recycled cotton, along with two vintage biker jackets.
Furthemore, the reality star’s comments on Boohoo’s previous lack of sustainability read as lacklustre and generic. She told The Industry “When boohoo first approached me with this idea that was all about sustainability and style, I was concerned about the effects of the fast fashion industry on our planet.” Sounds super passionate and sympathetic….not. To finish on this generic statement, Kardashian expressed “there’s still lots of work to be done and improvements to be made, but I truly believe that any progress we can make when it comes to sustainability is a step in the right direction and will open up the conversation for future advancements.”
Kourtney’s statement doesn’t mention specifics. There’s no statistics on how much Boohoo throws away and hardly any clear information of why this new ‘sustainable’ line is a green elevation. Without these necessary business details, the collaboration reads as greenwashing; a collection of generic statements encouraging purchasing power through a rather empty promise of delivering green products simply because there is a current trend for it.
Additionally, for a sustainable branch, one would expect that the prices would be higher having been made from ‘responsibly sourced’ materials yet Kardashian’s pieces start at the £5 price mark. Many have picked up on this; commenting underneath Boohoo’s post announcing the whole thing, one person wrote, “Positive change would be to stop over producing poor quality clothes made by underpaid workers. Step one. Don’t need more awareness, the world is aware”. Another remarked, “Would absolutely love to see you use the money you spend on these misleading marketing campaigns to actually pay the people who make your clothes”.
And ethical fashion campaigner Aja Barber said, “Yes let’s keep it real. Have you tried making less stuff? Instead of paying rich people to virtue signal why not just pay super fair wages instead??? That’s something you can do and you don’t even have to give a rich person more money to do it.”
Neither the brand nor Kourtney appear to have commented on the backlash, but it doesn’t look like it’s dying down any time soon. Maybe Kourtney Kardashian should next time call Patagonia’s CEO.
Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images