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?
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.
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.
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.
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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