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The darling of the sustainable fashion world, Girlfriend Collective makes size-inclusive activewear and essentials from recycled materials. But just how sustainable and ethical is Girlfriend Collective? This article is based on the Girlfriend Collective rating published in February 2022.
Is Girlfriend Collective a sustainable and ethical brand?
Landing on Girlfriend Collective’s homepage is like stepping into a candy store, but the candy is a collection of colourful, purportedly planet and people-friendly tights, sports bras, puffer jackets, and sleepwear. With size-inclusive ranges for everything from chilling on the couch to hitting the gym, US-based Girlfriend has hit a sweet spot in the eco-friendly fashion movement that places it as one of the most beloved brands out. But just how ethical is Girlfriend Collective? Is it doing as well for people, the planet, and animals as it claims? Let’s take a look.
According to its about page, Girlfriend Collective is “like the earth’s number one fan”. Transparency and more eco-friendly apparel are a top priority for the brand, which is reflected in its “Good” score here.
The brand uses a medium proportion of more sustainable materials, including recycled PET plastic and ECONYL®. Its designs are coloured with lower-impact dyes, and it ensures wastewater in its supply chain is treated and discharged properly. While there is no evidence Girlfriend is taking specific steps to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, its use of more eco-friendly materials reduces its climate impact and limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production.
Girlfriend also tackles an important and often overlooked part of a garment’s lifecycle: the end-of-life. Through its ReGirlfriend program, you can send back any old torn, worn, or stained Girlfriend pieces to be upcycled into new ones. In a world where the fashion industry creates 92m tons of textile waste annually, this is a crucial step towards circularity.
What about microfibres? If the garments are all made of plastic-based fabrics, they’ll shed tiny bits into our waterways whether they’re recycled or not, right? Girlfriend thought of that, too, and encourages you to wash all your GC pieces in wash bags or install their filter in your washing machine.
It’s clear that Girlfriend prioritises people in its marketing and making, with diverse models of all shapes, sizes, colours, genders, and abilities splashed across the screen for every popping product listing. With an inclusive size range of 2XS-6XL and even a crucial accessibility option on its website, Girlfriend does for its customers what all brands should do but often don’t bother to.
So all is well for those who wear the clothes—but what about those who make them? Girlfriend receives a score of “Good” for workers. Its factory is certified by Social Accountability International – SA8000, and it has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles. It monitors health and safety issues through a third-party audit of its final production stage, ensures payment of a living wage in some stages of production, and traces most of its supply chain.
This brand makes products generally free of animal materials, so it’s not applicable to rate its impact on animals. We calculate the overall rating from environment and labour scores only. But, psst, vegan fashion lovers unite: there’s no animal-derived fabric in sight.
Overall rating: Good
So, how ethical is Girlfriend Collective? We’re happy to say the brand practices what it preaches and takes a score of “Good” overall for its efforts for people and the planet. This is one brand tackling fashion more sustainably and inclusively that deserves your support when you’re in need of something new.
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.