Pretty Little Thing is a fast-fashion company that tries to stay on trend and keep up with the ever-changing fashion norms. With big names like Kylie Jenner supporting their brand, you’d think their sustainability practices would be up-to-par, but that is not exactly the case. While there is a lot of information on their website, it is not substantial or detailed enough to excuse some of their past scandals. Their goals and values are promising, but with little tangible action taken and the fact that $48 for a dress raises some questions regarding labor practices, I have to rate them 1.5 planets.
This product is made from 95% cotton and 5% elastane. Cotton is known as one of the worst materials for the environment because it not only uses a ton of water to make, but it also degrades soil quality and the runoff from cotton fields can contaminate water sources. Also, non-organic cotton releases about 220 million tonnes of greenhouse gas into our atmosphere a year. PLT claims on their website that by 2025 all of their cotton and polyester will be recycled or more sustainably sourced and by 2030 so will all materials. They are particularly interested in transitioning to organic cotton which produces around 46% less CO2 emissions compared to non-organic. They are also a member of and source some of their cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative which is a non-profit that promotes better standards in cotton production. I believe PLT is on the right track to a more sustainable future if they are able to keep up with their goals. The only reservation I have about their materials (and why I rated them a 1.5) is that they still use real leather and other animal products. While those materials are not directly used in this product it is something interesting to note that sheds light on the ethics of the company itself.
According to its website, Pretty Little Thing seems to cover most of its bases when it comes to labor practices. They verify that the manufacturers on their supply chain are working in accordance with the SEDEX framework. SEDEX strives to have sweatshop-free factories with all of the companies they work with, and while their system may not be perfect, it is one of the best methods for a large company to ensure fair labor practices. Unfortunately, they claim that as of 2021 their factory lists and purchasing practices have been disclosed, but they are nowhere to be found. Also, they mention opening a factory in Leicester to “showcase how our garments are made and to share best practices across the industry” but an investigation in 2020 revealed that workers at a factory owned by PLT’s parent company Boohoo were being paid as little as $4.50 an hour and forced to work during the pandemic even if they were sick. This drastically goes against the values that a company audited by SEDEX would have and is an example of the failures of these auditing programs. I do give them credit for some of their plans. For example, PLT wants to have a 52% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an entirely mapped out supply chain by 2025. Nevertheless, their future plans do not outweigh their current labor practices and their lack of transparency and for these reasons, I have to rate them a 0.5.
Pretty Little Thing, founded in 2012, is a subsidiary of the parent company Boohoo Group plc and has about 500 employees. While it may be preformative they do have a diversity page on their website that details their values. They also donate to numerous charities including The Girls’ Network and Exist Loudly. Their clothes can also be seen on some of the biggest celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and the CEOs themselves, Umar and Mahmud Kamani, live very lavish lifestyles. They even came under fire because of this and the fact that the employees working in their factories don’t even make a living wage. On their website are also two blogs, one that gives sustainable fashion tips and one that has tips on being more sustainable in your daily life. To me, this company is the epitome of greenwashing and giving in to pressure from consumers. There are so many goals and values listed on their website that they just do not follow through on whether it’s their labor or sustainability practices, they need to follow through on their goals and actually align their actions with their values.