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Balenciaga is a luxury brand known for revolutionising women’s fashion. In this article, we dive into the brand’s “It’s a Start” rating, which was published in June 2023 and may not reflect claims the brand has made since then. Our ratings analysts are constantly rerating the thousands of brands you can check on our directory.
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?
Our planet rating evaluates brands based on the environmental policies in their supply chains, from carbon emissions and wastewater to business models and product circularity. 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 some lower-impact materials. including recycled 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.
While Balenciaga offers resale of second hand products, there’s no evidence it’s taking further action to address textile waste in its supply chain, which is an area we would love to see it improve in.
Workers’ rights are central to our people rating, which assess brands’ policies and practices on everything from child labour to living wages and gender equality. Balenciaga has made progress on its labour conditions, and its score in this area jumped to “It’s a Start” in a recent re-rate.
Most of its final production stage is undertaken in the European Union a low to medium risk region for labour abuse, and it claims to have a program to improve wages, but there’s no evidence it ensures its workers are paid living wages in most of its supply chain.
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.
Overall, Balenciaga has some more work to do to achieve a higher rating for those who make the clothes the label is so famous for.
Brands’ animal welfare policies and, where applicable, how well they trace their animal-derived products are the focus of our animals rating.
Unfortunately, Balenciaga’s animal rating dropped back down to “Not Good Enough” in the latest review. It has a formal policy aligned with the Five Domains of animal welfare. The brand appears to use leather, shearling, exotic animal hair, and silk. It does use wool as well, but Responsible Wool Standard certifies some of the wool it sources.
It doesn’t appear to use down, fur, angora, or exotic animal skin, which is positive, and it traces most animal-derived materials to the first production stage. There is still work to do here too for our animal friends, like reducing the animal-derived materials in its line.
Overall rating: ‘It’s a Start’
So, how ethical is Balenciaga? Overall, we gave it a rating of “It’s a Start” in our latest review. 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 lower-impact materials in the range, and more work done to address waste in the supply chain.
Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds 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 pre-owned is a decent option for your luxury fashion needs, but we’ve found some “Good” and “Great” alternatives to look into as well.
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