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Nasty Gal is one of the most popular fast fashion brands in the world, so just how ethical is it? Our research shows the brand is not doing nearly enough. This article is based on the Nasty Gal rating published in September 2020.
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?
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.
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’!
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.
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!