17 Nov

How Ethical Is Balenciaga?

Balenciaga’s score has risen to “Good” for its recent efforts on worker rights and animal welfare. Let’s take a closer look and answer: how ethical is Balenciaga?

Is Balenciaga an ethical and sustainable brand?

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga was founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastián. Based in Paris since 1937, Balenciaga rose to fame for its revolutionary silhouettes and modernisation of women’s fashion. These days, it is most well known for its motorcycle-inspired handbags but features a wide range of luxury clothes, shoes, and accessories for men and women. The Kering-owned brand has been making some efforts to reduce its environmental impact, but how is it doing for workers and animals? All in all, how ethical is Balenciaga?

Environmental impact

Care for the planet is where Balenciaga stands out, earning a “Good” rating, our second-highest score. Not only has it set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, unlike many other large brands, it is actually on track to meet said target.

It has a policy approved by CanopyStyle to prevent deforestation of ancient and endangered forests in its supply chain and uses a few eco-friendly materials. It also reduces chromium and other hazardous chemicals from the leather tanning processes. You can find these applaudable efforts across the entire Kering family of luxury brands.

Labour conditions

Balenciaga has made progress on its labour conditions, and its score in this area has jumped to “It’s a Start”.

Most of its final production stage is undertaken in Italy, a medium risk country for labour abuse, where there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage. It received a middling score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index, as it publishes some information about its supply chain and labour policies. It also implements practices to encourage diversity and inclusion in its direct operations but not its supply chain.

While it does disclose policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19, overall, Balenciaga has some more work to do to achieve a higher rating for those who make the clothes they are so famous for.

Animal welfare

Balenciaga’s animal rating has also risen to “It’s a Start” in the latest review. The brand has a robust policy to ensure animal welfare in its supply chain, traces most animal products to the first stage of production, and sources wool from non-mulesed sheep. It also recently stopped using fur and exotic animal skins in its range, which marks good progress for animals. It still uses leather and exotic animal hair.

Overall rating: Good

So, how ethical is Balenciaga? Overall, we gave it a rating of “Good”. Similarly to its Kering siblings, Balenciaga needs to work more on its labour and animal welfare practices to improve its score in those areas. It could work to implement living wages in its supply chain and phase out more animal materials. We would also like to see a transition to a higher percentage of eco-friendly materials in the range.

Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

Balenciaga is a “Good” option for your luxury fashion needs, but we’ve found some other “Good” and “Great” alternatives to look into as well.

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Other ethical and sustainable brands like Balenciaga

Balenciaga (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastián. The Kering-owned brand has been making some efforts to reduce its environmental impact, setting targets to reduce its direct and indirect emissions, and implementing initiatives to reduce water use.

See the rating.

Shop Balenciaga Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

O My Bag

Rated: Good

O My Bag merges style and a responsible approach, creating vintage inspired, rugged-chic bags made from eco-friendly, high quality materials. The Dutch label also uses low impact and non-toxic dyes in its products.

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Malaika New York

Rated: Good

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Malaika New York – Bottoms

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Malaika New York – Dresses

Seasonless one-size-fits-all pieces with a minimalistic design that makes them such easy-to-wear staples. Exclusive 20% off dresses with code goodonyou2022. (Ends: 25 MAY)

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Malaika New York – Tops

Unisex tops, ethically produced in New York using zero waste design principles. Exclusive 20% off tops with code goodonyou2022. (Ends: 25 MAY)

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Malaika New York is a minimalistic sustainable clothing brand with a focus on zero waste clothing and accessories. The US-based brand aims to eliminate fashion’s harmful environmental effects by utilizing minimal or zero waste patterns, while maximizing wearability by producing luxe-quality, contemporary garments that make a statement now and into the future. Find most garments in S-XL with some items going up to 2XL.

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Culthread

Rated: Great

Culthread is a UK-based clothing label that offers stylish, practical, and everlasting jackets and accessories from vegan and deadstock materials. Culthread's goal is to make quality coats and lifestyle products that you will want to wear and treasure forever. Find most items in sizes XS to XL.

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Shop Culthread @ Immaculate Vegan.

E.L.V. Denim

Rated: Good

E.L.V. Denim transforms old discarded denim into modern, sophisticated, and even 'made to measure' jean jackets, pants, and accessories. Find most jeans in UK sizes 24-32.

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Shop E.L.V. Denim @ Rêve en Vert.

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ARTICLE22

Rated: Good

Every piece of ARTICLE22 jewellery is locally handcrafted in Laos using recycled materials from Vietnam War bombs, plane parts, military hardware, and other aluminium scraps. The brand embodies the innovation that the fashion industry needs more of—using recycled materials to produce beautiful globally-marketable products, while equipping local artisans with new skill sets and providing them with a sustainable source of income. ARTICLE22 gives back to clear more unexploded bombs in Laos, supports traditional artisans, and donates a proportion of profit to community development for workers. The range is available in sizes S-XL.

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ZEROBARRACENTO

Rated: Good

ZEROBARRACENTO is an Italian brand that creates zero-waste silhouettes that celebrate the personality of those who wear it. You can find most pieces in sizes S to L.

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Editor's note

Feature image via Balenciaga, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use the directory to search thousands of rated brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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