19 Aug

How Ethical Is Miss Selfridge?

Since 1966, Miss Selfridge has grown from humble beginnings as the youth section of Selfridge’s department store to being one of the UK’s best known high street labels boasting over 250 standalone stores worldwide.

Miss Selfridge is owned by Arcadia Group, who also own Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins. In its 2017 Arcadia Group Fashion Footprint report, the group states that it is “committed to sustainability” and aims to “produce fashionable products in a responsible and ethical way”. But is this really the case? We take a look at how Miss Selfridge rates when it comes to their treatment of people, the planet and animals and ask How ethical is Miss Selfridge?

Environmental Rating

Miss Selfridge is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, which promotes more sustainable means of producing cotton that requires less water and pesticides. In the 2017 Arcadia Group Fashion Footprint report, the group also set a greenhouse gas emissions target, however, it doesn’t specify whether it relates to its direct operations or its supply chain.

What’s more, the report mentions a number of sustainability initiatives that have been implemented, including improving the efficiency of its transport, recycling and energy consumption in its head offices, distribution centres and stores.

So why do we say it’s Not Good Enough? Well, the brand doesn’t address clothing manufacturing, which is the biggest contributor to the group’s carbon footprint. Not one of the sustainability targets mentioned in the report relate to the use of eco-friendly materials or reducing carbon emissions down its supply chain.

Unfortunately, there is also no evidence that it has taken any meaningful action to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals or reduce water usage.

So despite undertaking a few sustainability initiatives, at the end of the day, Miss Selfridge’s fast fashion business model is inherently unsustainable. As a brand that creates large quantities of low-quality, cheap, resource-intensive and on-trend clothes, Miss Selfridge cannot improve its score in this area until it starts to use more eco-friendly materials and reduces its use of dangerous chemicals in the manufacturing stage.

Labour Rating

Arcadia Group, who own Miss Selfridge, received an overall score of ‘C+’ in the 2018 Australian Ethical Fashion Report, the same score it received in the previous years’ report. This suggests that in the space of a year, the Arcadia Group has done little to improve its ethical standards when it comes to labour rights. What’s more, while the Arcadia Group signed the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord, it only did so after months of pressure from advocacy groups.

Although the group received the top score of ‘A+’ for it’s labour policies and code of conduct in the report, they are not applied across it’s whole supply chain. In addition, while Arcadia Group can trace and monitor all of its suppliers at the final manufacturing stage, it can only trace between 1-25% of suppliers at the raw materials and inputs stages. However, the group has implemented measures to trace its suppliers and countries of origin at all levels of the supply chain, which is a promising move. The Arcadia Group publicly lists some of its suppliers at the final production stage, and only audits some of its supply chain at the final manufacturing stage.
The group also has few worker empowerment initiatives in place and does not pay its workers a living wage at any stages of manufacturing.

Miss Selfridge should improve its transparency surrounding its labour practices. The brand could start by releasing information about how it monitors the factories its products are sourced from, tracing its suppliers at all stages, making a public list of those suppliers and the countries of origin of its products, and most importantly, paying all its workers a living wage.

Animal Welfare

Miss Selfridge does not use fur, angora, or exotic animal fur or skin, which is great, however it does use leather, wool and down without specifying sources. This is problematic as the welfare of workers or animals cannot be guaranteed if the source is unknown.

Miss Selfridge could improve its score by being more transparent about where it sources its materials, or even better, by not using any animal products at all.

Overall Rating

Overall we rate Miss Selfridge ‘Not Good Enough’ based on information from the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research.

Despite undertaking a few vague initiatives such as setting a non-specific greenhouse gas emissions target, starting a project to improve wages in part of its supply chain (though not specifying how this will be implemented), Miss Selfridge still has a lot of room for improvement in all areas. The brand could start improving its score by setting a specific greenhouse gas emissions target across its operations and supply chain, eliminating toxic dyes, solvents and pesticides during the manufacturing process, incorporating more eco-friendly and cruelty-free materials into its products, improving transparency about its suppliers and implementing a living wage across its supply chain.

See the rating.

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Editor's note

Feature image via Miss Selfridge. 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 more than 2,500 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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