21 Jul

How Ethical Is Nasty Gal?

If you’ve watched Netflix’s Girlboss, then you might already be familiar with Nasty Gal’s story. But in case you haven’t, here’s a little recap:

Nasty Gal was founded by Sophia Amoruso in 2006 in San Francisco, initially as an eBay store called Nasty Gal Vintage. Only two years later, in 2008, Sophia officially launched the brand we know today and sold out on day 1. Over the years, the brand grew dramatically to reach $120 million in profitability. But in 2015, it all started to go south—Nasty Gal was sued by an employee for allegedly firing her and two others just before they were to go on maternity leave; in 2016, the brand filed for bankruptcy, and soon after, Sophia Amuroso stepped down. Phew, that’s what we call a wild ride!

Five years later, Nasty Gal is owned by Boohoo, who bought it for $20 million, a fraction of Nasty Gal’s former valuation. It has moved to LA and now carries new clothing, shoes, and accessories under its own label. The brand prides itself on creating fashion “all for gals who know how to own it, and have the confidence to just be themselves”—which we love—but what about Nasty Gal’s impact on the planet, people, and animals?

Today we’re taking a look at one of the fastest-growing brands out there to answer the now-famous question: how ethical is Nasty Gal?

Environmental Impact

Unfortunately, Nasty Gal rates ‘Not Good Enough’ for its environmental impact. Even though the brand launched a sustainable collection with stylist Jen Ceballos, the 40 pieces made from recycled fabrics and organic cotton are insufficient to counterbalance the rest of the brand’s collection. In general, Nasty Gal doesn’t use eco-friendly materials. We also found no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals or implement water reduction initiatives.

Labour Conditions

Nasty Gal’s labour rating is ‘Very Poor’, our lowest possible score. Some of its supply chain is certified by Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit in the final production stage, but the good news ends there.

The brand is about as opaque as it can get, receiving a score of 0-10% in last year’s Fashion Transparency Index. It publishes zero or minimal information about its supplier policies and audits, and it does not disclose any information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association.

Even more problematic, we found no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain or any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. Talk about ‘nasty’!

Animal Welfare

On a positive note, Nasty Gal’s animal rating is ‘Good’. The brand does not use any animal products, but it does not state that it’s vegan.

Overall Rating: We Avoid

So, how ethical is Nasty Gal? Overall, we rate Nasty Gal ‘We Avoid’. Despite using no animal-derived materials and taking small ‘sustainable’ initiatives, like its eco-friendly capsule with Jen Ceballos or its vintage collection, the brand still has a lot of work to do. To get a better rating, the brand should be confident and ‘own it’ by being more transparent. It should explore using more sustainable materials, disclose more information about its supply chain, and ensure workers are treated fairly and paid a living wage.

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.

See the rating.

If you’re a gal or pal who knows how to own it and has the confidence to just be yourself, minus the negative environmental and social impacts, you’re in luck—we’ve found some ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ alternatives to Nasty Gal!

Good Swaps

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and sustainable practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern, sustainable woman. Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, and by limiting each garment to short runs, the brand also reduces packaging waste and takes care of precious water resources. Find most products in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Shop Whimsy + Row @ Earthkind.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great

Christy Dawn is a minimalist showroom for vintage-inspired women's clothing and footwear, locally made with surplus fabric. The US brand rates 'Great', making it a fabulous boho option for your wardrobe. Find the clothes in standard sizes XS-XL, or shop the Extended and Petite collections.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.

Yes And

Rated: Good
two women wearing yes and sustainable clothing

YES AND aims to banish the stigma that sustainable fashion has to sacrifice style, quality, fit, color, comfort or price. With this US-based brand you can actually have it all, and more: it is certified organic, low-impact dyed, and ethically made! You can find most items in sizes XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop Yes And.

CHNGE

Rated: Great

CHNGE is a US-based sustainable fashion brand using 100% organic material, built to last a lifetime while making a statement. Find CHNGE's inclusive clothes in sizes 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop CHNGE.

LOCAL EUROPEAN

Rated: Good
sustainable swimwear by Local European

Minimal and monochromatic LOCAL EUROPEAN values sustainability, quality, and luxury. Its sophisticated edge is bolstered by its commitment to using eco-friendly materials. Find sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop LOCAL EUROPEAN.

POLITE WORLDWIDE

Rated: Good
man and woman wearing stylish sustainable sunglasses by POLITE WORLDWIDE

POLITE WORLDWIDE is an eyewear brand that believes in being polite to our planet and ourselves with positive vibes only.

See the rating.

Shop POLITE WORLDWIDE.

Vestiaire Collective

women wearing stylish sustainable dress, jacket, and jumpsuit from Reformation

A peer-to-peer platform that allows you to buy and sell luxury items. Vestiaire’s items are independently authenticated and evaluated to ensure the described condition matches the actual item you receive. PANGAIAReformationAdidas, and Stella McCartney are among our favourite brands to buy on Vestiaire Collective.

Shop pre-owned fashion @ Vestiaire Collective.

Editor's note

Feature image via Nasty Gal, 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. We love to recommend some of the best sustainable brands, rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’. We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use Good On You to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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