Someone sitting in a yellow chair wearing sunglasses, a white crop top, and jeans. The word
05 May
Someone sitting in a yellow chair wearing sunglasses, a white crop top, and jeans. The word

How Ethical Is Bershka?

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Inditex-owned Bershka has been around since the ’90s, but it’s “Not Good Enough” for people, the planet, and animals. This article is based on the Bershka rating published in February 2022.

Trendy but troublesome

Bershka was founded in 1998 as a new store and fashion concept aimed at a young target market. It is an Inditex-owned brand like Zara and Pull&Bear and has over 1000 stores in 71 countries worldwide. Its aesthetic is unique, creative, and trendy, and with almost 10m Instagram followers, it’s clearly doing something right. But how is this brand for “adventurous young people” treating the planet, people, and animals? How ethical is Bershka?

Environmental Impact

Bershka is ‘Not Good Enough’ for the planet. It uses few eco-friendly materials, and there is no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products. It uses recycled packaging and has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, which are good steps. But there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target! For a brand that cites technology as its inspiration, it isn’t doing much to incorporate eco-friendly and innovative materials into its range.

Labour Conditions

Once again, Bershka receives a score of ‘Not Good Enough’, this time for its workers. Half of its final production stage is undertaken in Spain, a medium risk country for labour abuse. It received a score of 51-60% in the Fashion Transparency Index, much the same as its sister brands under Inditex. It likely publishes detailed information about its supplier policies, audits, and remediation processes, along with a detailed list of suppliers in the final stage of production. It publishes some information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. It even discloses some policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. And while transparency is a crucial step for brands, it’s not enough, and Bershka has one major failing for people—there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage. As Bershka contributes 10% of the Inditex group’s revenue, it can certainly afford to!

Animal Welfare

Bershka is making some effort in animal welfare, with a rating of ‘It’s A Start’. The brand has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms and doesn’t use down, fur, angora, or exotic animal skin. It uses wool but claims it is sourced from non-mulesed sheep. It also uses leather and exotic animal hair, and there is no evidence it traces any animal products to the first stage of production. There is still a way to go before Bershka is animal-friendly.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Despite a couple of positive steps, Bershka is still rated ‘Not Good Enough’ overall based on our research. It has a long way to go for people, the planet, and animals before being considered an ethical brand. And as more and more young people demand change and responsible production, the brand will have to be proactive if it is going to stay relevant!

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.

 

It’s not all bad news—there are some ethical alternatives to Bershka with similar styles and price points. For other eco-teen swaps for popular brands, check out this article on navigating ethical fashion for teens.

Good Swaps

Sustainable alternatives to Bershka

CHNGE

Rated: Good

CHNGE is a US-based sustainable fashion brand using 100% organic material, built to last a lifetime while making a statement.

Find CHNGE's inclusive clothes in sizes 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop CHNGE.

Yes Friends

Rated: Great

Yes Friends is a UK-based fashion brand that creates sustainable, ethical, and affordable clothing for everyone. Yes Friends' first product, classic cut t-shirts, cost less than £4 to make and the brand only charges £7.99. Using large scale production and direct to consumer margins means Yes Friends can charge you an affordable price for its sustainable and ethical clothing. Find the range inclusively sized in 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Yes Friends.

Afends

Rated: Good
two images of people in tops, shirts and trousers

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Born in Byron Bay, Afends is a responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, they purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow their own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution. Explore their range made from 100% eco-conscious threads.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

No Nasties

Rated: Great

Another leader when it comes to ethical fashion, No Nasties makes simple and stylish clothing from Fairtrade organic cotton in India where it is actively working to grow the ethical consumer market.

Find styles in sizes 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop No Nasties.

Shop No Nasties @ Made Trade.

Kings of Indigo

Rated: Good

Kings of Indigo makes quality denims, tops, and accessories inspired by American classics with a Japanese eye for detail. The brand uses GOTS organic cotton as well as recycled cotton and wool, and avoids all chemicals from the REACH chemical list. Find sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Kings of Indigo.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, 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 our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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