How Ethical Is Boohoo? - Good On You
14 Oct

How Ethical Is Boohoo?

Founded in Manchester in 2006, Boohoo has grown fast since then: the brand even purchased PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, two other fast fashion brands, in 2017.

But in 2019, Boohoo was named one of the least sustainable fashion brands in the UK in a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). This year, allegations about worker exploitation by a supplier of Boohoo in Leicester emerged. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, it was even reported that while Boohoo’s sales soared 44% percent during lockdown, factory workers were asked to work with “little to no” social distancing or personal protective equipment (PPE). Yikes.

It should not come as a surprise when we tell you Boohoo’s fast fashion practices have a negative impact on the planet, people, and animals. But let’s take a deeper dive into what this all really means and ask: how ethical is Boohoo?

Environmental Impact

Boohoo’s environment rating is ‘Not Good Enough’: it does not use eco-friendly materials and there is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals. The brand does measure and report in greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operation but not from its supply chain. And there’s also no evidence it implements water reduction initiatives.

Labour Conditions

On the labour front, Boohoo rates ‘Very Poor’, our lowest rating. Despite some of its supply chain being certified by Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) Best Practice Guidance in the final stage of production, the brand received a score of 0-10% in the Fashion Transparency Index. Boohoo publishes limited information about its supplier policies and audits, and doesn’t disclose any information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association.

As we saw above, Boohoo’s reaction to COVID-19 was not the best, and the brand doesn’t disclose any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.

Lastly, we found no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

Animal Welfare

There is no evidence that Boohoo has a policy to minimise the suffering of animals. And although it doesn’t use fur, down, angora, or exotic animal skin and hair, it still uses leather and wool and doesn’t trace any animal product to the first stage of production. For all these reasons Boohoo’s animal rating is ‘Not Good Enough’.

Overall Rating

Boohoo is very opaque about its environmental and labour impacts as well as its policies.

In order to improve its rating, Boohoo could start by disclosing information and being more transparent about its practices.

What’s more, Boohoo is another typical example of the newest kind of fast fashion brands, designing and putting clothes on the market even faster than before, sometimes in just under a week. By doing this, Boohoo encourages a “throw-away” culture and makes us believe we need to shop more and more to stay on top of trends, creating a constant sense of need and ultimate dissatisfaction. No thank you, NEXT!

See the rating.


Luckily, the Good On You team found a few ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ alternatives to Boohoo:

Good Swaps

Ethical alternatives to Boohoo


Rated: Good

Afends is a Byron Bay based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Seek Collective

Rated: Good

Seek Collective is a line of elevated essentials inspired by the global woman blended with art, craft, and design.

See the rating.

Shop Seek Collective.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

This LA-based brand makes truly affordable ethical fashion that looks great—a rare find indeed.  By limiting each garment to short runs, Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, reduces packaging waste, and takes care of precious water resources.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.


Rated: Good

Birdsong is a boutique label producing gorgeous womenswear. Its clothes are handmade in London by knitters and seamstresses earning above the London living wage. The business is built on a philosophy of fairness and authenticity, promising customers “no sweatshop, no photoshop”.

See the rating.

Shop Birdsong.


Rated: Good

Spell is a modern-bohemian fashion brand inspired by far-off places, vintage treasures and childhood memories.

See the rating.

Shop Spell.


Rated: Good
man wearing dark blue denim shirt by stanley stella

STANLEY/STELLA celebrates simplicity in its pieces by focussing on comfort, quality, and durability. It uses 100% organic cotton and mainly recycled polyester to support the circular economy and reduce waste.

See the rating.


Editor's note

Feature image via Boohoo. 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 more than 2,500 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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