How Ethical Is J.Crew?

By August 17, 2018Big Brands, Fashion

J.Crew is known as a favourite store of former US First Lady Michelle Obama. Founded in 1983, the American brand offers preppy and colourful staples for women, men and children. J.Crew believes “great style begins with great design”, but how does its designs impact planet, people and animals? How ethical is J.Crew?

Environment: Not Good Enough

J.Crew donates its unsold items to, a nonprofit organization that distributes items to community service groups that are improving the lives of people in need. However the brand has few environmental practices set in place in its production line.  It doesn’t use eco-friendly materials, provides no evidence that it has a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, or that it is taking adequate steps to minimise or eliminate hazardous chemicals. It has no policies or initiatives on water usage and wastewater management in supply chain and doesn’t specifically states how it minimises non-textile waste. What’s more it doesn’t have adequate policies and initiatives for resources management and disposal.  A pretty dirty result from a brand with such a clean image!

woman wearing printed j crew shirt

Labour: Not Good Enough

On the labour front, J.Crew sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse. Although it has agreed to the Uzbek Cotton Pledge and is a member of Business for Social Responsibility and Fair Factories Clearinghouse, it doesn’t share a complete lists of suppliers and there is no evidence it provides a living wage.

Animal welfare: Not Good Enough

Although it doesn’t use exotic animal hair, skin or karakul, the brand does use wool, leather, angora and down feathers without stating their origins, which is why we think it is “Not Good Enough” for animal welfare.  Leather in particular has huge impacts for animals, the environment and workers so it’s essential the supply chain is transparent.

j crew jeans

Overall rating: Not Good Enough GoY-Ratings_2

Overall we rated J.Crew ‘Not Good Enough’ as the brand has very few robust and tangible environmental and labour policies. Even though J.Crew’’s website has extensive descriptions about steps to improve its impact on the environment, they mostly concern energy efficiency and don’t communicate sufficient information about the brand’s policies, which is why some people could consider that J.Crew is greenwashing.



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Ethical Alternatives

People Tree 

Bianca Green Floral Dress | | Ships internationally

British brand People Tree has creates sustainably sourced, beautiful certified organic and Fairtrade pieces that will make you look stylish and on-trend, like this green floral dress.

Marks & Spencer 

Trench Coat with Stormwear | | Ships internationally

Marks & Spencer, the UK retailer aims at being a zero-waste business by 2025. The brand uses a proportion of recycled materials and organic cotton in its long-lasting and quality clothes. It is also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Greenpeace Detox Catwalk.

MUD Jeans 

Boyfriend Basin | | Ships internationally

This sustainable vegan Dutch jeans brand ticks all the right boxes by designing gorgeous jeans made from 100% organic and recycled cotton, with some of them GOTS certified. . With the “circular economy” in mind, they also offer their own ‘lease-a-jeans’ program as well as a repair service so you can wear your favourite jeans for longer.


Women’s Long Sleeve Rib Skivvy | | Ships internationally

Melbourne-based independent fashion label A.BCH is designs wardrobe staples, offering a simple solution to the complex issues of the fashion industry. Also working to a circular economy standard, the brand uses eco-friendly vegan materials and has adopted the Fair Wear Foundation Code of Conduct.


Organic Bamboo MM Top | | Ships internationally

Indecisive presents vegan ladies wear ethically designed and manufactured in Australia. The brand uses eco-friendly materials including recycled materials. It manufacture sits long-lasting products locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

Jan’N June 

Fancy Sleeve Dress Bellis | | Ships internationally

Hamburg-based JAN ‘N JUNE offers sustainable, fair and transparent pieces. Its uses GOTS certified cotton as well as recycled materials, like in this dress made of recycled neoprene. It manufactures its products locally in the European Union and ensures a large proportion of its suppliers pay a living wage.

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Featured image by J.Crew. All images via brands mentioned.

Solene Rauturier

Author Solene Rauturier

Originally from France, Solene is currently Content and Community intern at Good on You.

More posts by Solene Rauturier

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