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03 Jan

How Ethical Is Girlfriend Collective?

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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 November 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 Girlfriend Collective a more sustainable 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 conscious fashion movement that places it as one of the most beloved brands out there. 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.

Environmental impact

According to its about page, Girlfriend Collective is “like the earth’s number one fan”. Transparency and more responsible apparel are a top priority for the brand, which is reflected in its “Good” score here.

The brand uses a medium proportion of lower-impact 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 better 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.

Labour conditions

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 rates “It’s a Start” for workers, a lower score than in previous ratings. Some of its supply chain is certified by Social Accountability International – SA8000, and it has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles.

Unfortunately, while Girlfriend Collective partly traces its supply chain, including the final and some of the second production stages, it is unclear whether it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain. While the brand is certainly ahead of the curve on inclusivity on the front lines, the murkiness of wages deeper into the supply chain is a worry. Living wages are crucial for a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry, and should be a top priority for the brand to regain ground in this area.

Animal welfare

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. The brand really needs to be more transparent around its labour conditions, and especially whether or not it ensures payment of a living wage, but overall, Girlfriend Collective is one brand tackling fashion more sustainably and inclusively that deserves your support when you’re in need of something new.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVR Sustainable.

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.

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Good
Two women wearing sports leggings and crop tops in burgundy and green

Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury clothes made with fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses lower-impact materials like recycled polyester as well as lower-impact, non-toxic dyes and is fully OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified.

Inclusively sized Girlfriend Collective offers products from 2XS-6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

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Editor's note

Feature image via Girlfriend Collective, 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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