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This article is based on the NA-KD rating published in August 2021.
Thanks to its cleverly planned influencer marketing strategy, Swedish brand NA-KD is one of the most mentioned brands on social media. Racking up over 3M followers on Instagram and “releasing new styles every day”, this is one brand that prides itself on being trendsetting and ambassador-driven. But how does NA-KD’s wild popularity with young women shoppers impact People, the Planet, and Animals? How ethical and sustainable is NA-KD?
NA-KD is ‘Not Good Enough’ for the environment. This score should come as no surprise for a brand that relies heavily on an eCommerce-based fast fashion approach and has been compared to those ultra-fast fashion brands we avoid like Boohoo and Missguided.
The brand offers “free climate compensated shipping and returns”, includes some less impactful materials in its packaging and says it uses “smart” electricity and power control on-site. However, the brand’s so-called “consideration of every step” and desire to “minimise greenhouse gas emissions” is not strongly reflected in its actions across the supply chain. Hello, greenwashing.
NA-KD uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials, though there is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals. And while it has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target! There is also no evidence it implements water reduction initiatives in most of its supply chain.
The brand does have its own pre-loved fashion section called Circle, in a bid to “prolong the life of garments”. And while second hand clothing is almost always a more sustainable option than buying new, convincing consumers to buy more clothes than they need is not. Especially when they end up listed for resale after only a few wears! This cycle perpetuates the overconsumption that is having such a detrimental impact on the environment in the first place.
When it comes to people, NA-KD is also rated ‘Not Good Enough’. While it audits some of its supply chain, the effort and transparency ends there. We found zero evidence the brand has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint, nor any sign of payment of a living wage. It sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse and doesn’t disclose any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.
It also currently misses out on crucial inclusivity, diversity, and representation across its social media platforms—something that is sorely needed in the fashion industry!
NA-KD is also ‘Not Good Enough’ for the animals we share the planet with. The pros: It states that it sources wool from non-mulesed sheep, and it doesn’t use angora, fur, down, or exotic animal skin. The cons: It has a general statement about minimising animal suffering but not a formal animal welfare policy. It also uses leather and exotic animal hair, and there is no evidence it traces any animal products to the first stage of production. The welfare of our animal friends can’t be guaranteed with such a lack of transparency by the brand!
Overall Rating: Not Good Enough
So, how ethical and sustainable is NA-KD? Overall, we rate NA-KD ‘Not Good Enough’ based on our own research. While the brand states it wants “future fashion to be grounded in equality, diversity, and a deep respect for nature” and has a set of lofty goals for 2025, at this very moment, it isn’t doing enough to be considered ethical or sustainable. We would love to see the brand reach its goals of carbon neutrality, diversity, and more, at which point it might be doing enough to achieve a higher score. However, unless it reassesses its fast fashion business model and realises there’s only so much offsetting can do, it will likely remain ‘Not Good Enough’!
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.
Love the NA-KD trendsetting vibes but hate the lack of transparency and sustainable practices? We’ve rounded up a few ethical alternatives to NA-KD below that might do it for you.