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If you were born in the noughties, chances are you have Hollister in your wardrobe right now! Considered one of the top 5 clothing brands for teens, this Abercrombie & Fitch subsidiary was launched in the year 2000 in the US and has been pumping out trend-led styles ever since. For those of us born before the turn of the century, wading through Hollister’s website presents a confusing array of band tees, flared jeans, and pleated skirts we could’ve sworn went out of fashion a decade or two ago. Y2K resurgence, we see you!
In any case, with 5m followers, a loyal fanbase, and no signs of slowing, we thought it was about time to dig a bit deeper into this youth-led brand that claims to be “For you, for the community, and for the planet” right on its homepage. Is Hollister really about “leaving the world a little better”, or is there a bit of greenwashing going on? How ethical is Hollister? This article is based on the Hollister rating published in August 2020.
Off the bat, Hollister’s environment rating is ‘Not Good Enough’, despite its claims of planetary care. It currently uses few eco-friendly materials, and there is no evidence that it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals or implement water reduction initiatives—you know, some of the most crucial steps towards caring for the Earth.
It does reuse some of its offcuts to minimise textile waste, which we commend. It has also set out some goals on its website about reducing its fashion footprint, including partnering with BCI cotton and aiming to reduce water use in denim production by 30% by 2022 and incorporating less harmful dyes and fabrics. While these initiatives are certainly better than nothing, they cover a fraction of the brand’s overall footprint, and there’s a long way to go before it can call itself ‘eco-friendly’!
Hollister is also ‘Not Good Enough’ for its workers. None of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety or other labour rights. It received a score of 21-30% in the Fashion Transparency Index, and while it likely publishes information about its supplier policies, audits, and remediation processes, there’s no sign of a comprehensive list of suppliers or information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. There is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain, and it didn’t disclose any adequate policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19!
Speaking of trends—Hollister seems to be trending towards a low overall score at this rate. And—yep. Also ‘Not Good Enough’ for animals! With no animal welfare policy in sight, no evidence it traces any animal products even to the first stage of production, and leather and wool products with no clear origins, there’s a lot to be desired here. It doesn’t use fur, angora, or exotic animal skin, and its down is accredited by the Responsible Down Standard, which is good—but more needs to be done to ensure the brand is treating the non-human animals in its supply chain better.
Overall Rating: Not Good Enough
So, how ethical is Hollister? Overall, we rated Hollister ‘Not Good Enough’ based on our own research. From a lack of robust policies for the planet to no sign of a living wage for people to little effort for animals, it’s clear this brand has a long way to go to achieve a higher rating. As more and more young people are tapping into the trend the world really needs right now—the sustainability trend—we hope to see the brand making more effort across the board to stay relevant and true to its word of leaving the world a little better off.
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.
Tackling ethical fashion as a teen is tough! But before you get too disheartened, check out these sustainable alternatives to Hollister below. You might just find something that ticks all your boxes.