Princess Polly Organic Cotton Bailey Bike Short White

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Anna Gossard
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The Organic Cotton Bailey Bike shorts are part of Princess Polly’s new “Planet Club” initiative to provide sustainable alternatives to their fast fashion products. Princess Polly is often characterized as “fast fashion”, which means that they mass produce products for the fashion industry to compensate for the materialistic needs of their consumers. Through the Planet Club campaign, Princess Polly is able to incorporate sustainable practices into their own manufacturing. This is a great initiative, but I’m disappointed to see that any sustainable efforts stop outside of the collection. I give them credit though because they have an explicit list of goals that are measurable and attainable for each of the “realms” of the environment, such as community/equality, ethical sourcing, and sustainable products. 

What it's made of:


As you can probably tell, the Bailey Bake shorts are made of 100% cotton. This cotton is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Organic Content Standard (OCS). GOTS “defines requirements to ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer” and OCS “is an international, voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of certified organic input and chain of custody”. Princess Polly provides advice on how to sustainably care for your clothes, such as washing less, spot cleaning stains, and air drying. I think it’s great the company does this because it passes the responsibility to the consumers after distribution. Any purchases within the Earth Club campaign are shipped with recyclable packaging made with recycled materials, although I’m not sure if this initiative is extended to their main supply chain.

How it's made:


Princess Polly has a 5 tier production system, each with different tasks during manufacturing. However, Princess Polly only has visibility of Tier 1 manufacturing at the moment. Tier 1 does the majority of manufacturing and production, but other tiers are sometimes necessary depending on the product. This leaves 80% of their manufacturing unaudited and unregulated by Princess Polly. On their website, Princess Polly says that they are able to implement their human rights practices by “requiring all production factories to register with the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange and to undergo an independent audit”. However, based on their previous statement, they have no visibility of tiers 2, 3, 4, or 5, so really only the tier 1 factories are being observed. They also claim that in July of 2021, “54% of our factories were graded Gold or Silver and 83% of our factories have remediation plans to work to improve their audit results”. They say this as if it’s a good thing, but what I hear is that 83% of their factories are not up to the standards of their Sustainable Development Goals. I do give them credit though on their initiative to improve on this major flaw. Princess Polly uses demand-driven fashion, which means that they manufacture their products in smaller batches, rather than preordering massive amounts of clothing without any idea if every garment is going to be bought or not. This conserves material waste, time, and energy. 

Who makes it:


Princess Polly’s manufacturing factories are all located in China (Guangdong, Hunan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Liaoning). They have in place a Code of Conduct that aligns with the International Labor Organization’s Four Fundamental Freedoms. This includes the elimination of child labor, discrimination at work, forced labor, and freedom of association, and the right to collective bargaining. These are all great initiatives, but one of the major labor concerns, especially in Asian countries, is the low wages. For example, the minimum wage in Guangdong is $297 a month, which is not livable by any standard. Princess Polly also does not disclose any policies or safeguards to protect their employees from the effects of COVID. However, Princess Polly lists the charities they support and the amount they have donated to those organizations. These causes include Greening Australia, eco protects, restores and conserves Australia native vegetation, The Loveland Foundation, which supports communities of color, especially women and girls of color, and Thomas House Family Shelter, which supports homeless families with children.