For consumers For business
Someone wearing a grey tracksuit and black tee, running outdoors.
20 Jul
Someone wearing a grey tracksuit and black tee, running outdoors.

How Ethical Is PacSun?

Our editors curate highly rated brands that are first assessed by our rigorous ratings system. Buying through our links may earn us a commission—supporting the work we do. Learn more.


How ethical is PacSun? This teen-oriented American brand may be popular, but its lack of action for people and the planet is worrying. Read the article to learn more about PacSun’s “We Avoid” rating. This article is based on the PacSun rating published in March 2022.

PacSun may be making empty promises

American retail clothing label PacSun has kept up over the years as a popular choice with teens, marketing apparel that maintains the brand’s roots in youth-oriented culture. With over 325 stores across the US and Puerto Rico and almost 3m followers on Instagram, it’s clear the brand’s fans aren’t going anywhere. Yet the brand lacks evidence of providing a living wage to employees and falls short with its environmental policies, so we can’t help but wonder: how ethical is PacSun? Read on to dive deeper into the brand’s rating.

Environmental impact

PacSun’s environment rating is “Very Poor”, the lowest score. It uses few eco-friendly materials; there is no evidence it has set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target; it hasn’t taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, and it doesn’t appear to implement water reduction initiatives.

While the brand does have a “Sustainability Shop” section of its website where it sells a range of clothes apparently made with “more mindful fabrics and processes”, upon closer investigation, the item descriptions provide vague information like “made from 100% sustainably sourced cotton”, and clothes tagged with the “Recycled” label are still made with 40% virgin polyester. This is a prime example of greenwashing by a fast fashion brand cutting corners to appear more sustainable than it actually is. While we appreciate PacSun’s recognition that it’s “the small changes you make today that will result in a better tomorrow”, it has a long way to go before it can be considered “Good” or “Great” for the planet.

Labour conditions

Unfortunately, the brand is also rated “Very Poor” for workers. While PacSun traces and audits some of its supply chain, it does not disclose where its final stage of production occurs, nor any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. Most worrying, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

For a brand that claims it understands the importance of using its voice and platform to “inspire and bring about positive development in our local and global communities”, it has work to do to ensure the people behind the clothes are valued and treated ethically.

Animal welfare

One area where PacSun is making at least some effort is animal welfare, for which it receives our middling score of “It’s A Start”. On the plus side, the brand does not use leather, down, exotic animal hair, angora, fur, or exotic animal skin. However, it uses wool, and it doesn’t appear to have a policy to minimise the suffering of animals, nor does it appear to trace any animal products even to the first production stage.

Overall rating: We Avoid

So, how ethical is PacSun? Overall, the brand receives our lowest possible score of “We Avoid” to reflect its lack of action for people and the planet in its production. PacSun would need to improve its transparency, incorporate more certified eco-friendly materials into its range, pay its workers a living wage, and shift away from the overproduced fast fashion business model to improve its score.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds 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.

Good swaps

Our favourite “Good” and “Great” alternatives to PacSun


Rated: Good
Someone on roof wearing clothes by Afends.

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a more responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, it purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow its own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.


Rated: Good
People dressed in more sustainable clothes by FRANC.

FRANC is a Canadian brand that makes basics so you can enjoy a complete wardrobe built on timeless essentials. The brand ranks "Good" on all fronts: it uses lower-impact materials, traces and visits its supply chain, and uses no animal products.

Find most products in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.



Rated: Good
two people holding each other, one in a black long sleeved turtleneck and the other in white, both wearing light blue jeans by Kotn

Certified B Corp Kotn is based in Canada and works with local NGOs on the ground at the Nile Delta to provide every child in their farming communities with quality education, and to help close the gap of low literacy rates amongst communities. With every purchase, not only will you get a beautifully made garment, but you'll also help fund school infrastructure, materials, and salaries for teachers.

Find Kotn in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Kotn.

Organic Basics

Rated: Great
people wearing organic basics basics

Organic Basics offers high-quality more sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. The Denmark-based brand puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything—it only chooses fabrics that care for our environment, and only ever partners with factories that care about their impact.

Organic Basics' clothes are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Organic Basics.


Rated: Good
Woman in dark wash ethical fringe trousers

Boyish offers denim with quality fits and authentic washes, all inspired by vintage styles and its native California.

Find sizes 2XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Boyish @ Wearwell.

Shop Boyish @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Boyish.

Elle Evans

Rated: Good

Founded in 2013 in Australia, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, lower-impact swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain.

The range is stocked in sizes 2XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.


Rated: Good
sustainable navy jumpsuit by Naz

Näz is a Portuguese fashion brand that aims to make fashion look good, not only on you, but on the planet too. It uses a high proportion of lower-impact materials including GOTS certified organic cotton, and traces most of its supply chain.

Most garments available in sizes S-L.

See the rating.

Shop Näz.

Check out our guide to navigating sustainable fashion as a teen

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, 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 thousands of rated brands.

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.