17 Aug

How Ethical Is J.Crew?

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 Good360.org, 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!

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.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Rated: Not Good Enough

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.

Editor's note: Feature image via J.Crew. Images via brands mentioned.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.