How Ethical Is PrettyLittleThing? - Good On You
02 Jun

How Ethical Is PrettyLittleThing?

On the surface, Boohoo-owned PrettyLittleThing appears—well, pretty! Its Instagram account, boasting almost 15 million followers, is full of diverse, happy-looking women sporting colourful and trendy clothes. The brand, founded in the UK in 2012 as a small accessories-only company, has since grown to one of the largest fast fashion retailers. It is a go-to option for size inclusivity, featuring extensive plus, tall, and petite ranges. But we know by now that rapid production at low prices is a classically unsustainable business model, so let’s dig a little deeper and see if the “pretty” continues below the surface for workers, animals, and the environment. How ethical is PrettyLittleThing?

Environmental Impact

Off the bat, PrettyLittleThing’s environment rating is ‘Not Good Enough’. It doesn’t use eco-friendly materials, instead opting for planet-damaging polyester in most of its lineup. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, nor does it implement any water reduction initiatives. While it does measure and report on greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operations, it skips over the supply chain! PrettyLittleThing also follows the take-make-waste model of fast fashion brands, selling hundreds of styles that end up in landfill after just a few wears. There is a long way to go before this brand could be considered good for the planet!

Labour Conditions

For a brand promoting such pretty and happy people, scoring the lowest possible labour rating of ‘Very Poor’ is an even bigger disappointment. Some of PLT’s supply chain is certified by Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit – SMETA Best Practice Guidance in the final stage of production, but the rest is all bad news. It received a score of 0-10% in the Fashion Transparency Index, much like fellow low-rated fast fashion retailers Fashion Nova, Boohoo, and Revolve. It publishes zero or minimal information about its supplier policies and audits, and it doesn’t disclose any information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. While PLT ambassadors seem happy, the same can’t be said for workers in the supply chain. There is also no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage or any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers from the impacts of COVID-19!

Animal Welfare

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, PrettyLittleThing is rated ‘Not Good Enough’ for our animal friends. While it doesn’t use fur, down, angora, or exotic animal skin or hair, it does use leather and wool without stating sources. There is no evidence it has a policy to minimise the suffering of animals, nor that it traces any animal products to the first stage of production, so there is no way to guarantee the welfare of any animals along the supply chain.

Overall rating: We Avoid

So, how ethical is PrettyLittleThing? Based on our own research, we gave PrettyLittleThing our lowest overall rating of ‘We Avoid’. In fact, it sits up there in our top ten fast fashion brands we avoid at all costs! The brand has to turn its act around for people, the planet, and animals before any part of its behind-the-scenes can be considered “pretty”. By being more transparent about its practices and making crucial improvements to everything from worker wages to materials, PLT could see its score increase.

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.

We know that size inclusivity is one of the most significant barriers for people trying to shop more ethically, and there is no shame in shopping for brands that are making a start if they best suit your needs. Fortunately, there are tons of size-inclusive ethical alternatives to PrettyLittleThing out there to help you slow your consumption down and invest in quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Here are a few of our faves.

Good Swaps

Sustainable alternatives to PrettyLittleThing:

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Great
Two women wearing sports leggings and crop tops in burgundy and green

Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury clothes made with certified fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses eco-friendly materials like recycled polyester as well as low-impact non-toxic dyes and is fully Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. Inclusively sized Girlfriend Collective offers products from 2XS-6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

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.

Afends

Rated: Good

Afends is an Australia-based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact. You can find the full range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

nu-in

Rated: Good
close up of woman wearing white eco-friendly blouse from nu-in brand

nu-in is a European brand that features activewear, loungewear, and underwear collections, as well as trend-led men's and women's ranges. It prioritises the planet by using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, and reuses offcuts to minimise textile waste. The brand is inclusively sized, and features an extended sizing range up to 6XL!

See the rating.

Shop nu-in.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and clothes, and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. This Australian brand was founded as an avenue for the training and employment of women who have experienced sex trafficking. Find most of the brand's range in US sizes 22-34.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

Sotela

Rated: Good

Sotela is a body inclusive, sustainable clothing company offering adaptable pieces with the flexibility of 1-2 sizes in each.

See the rating.

Shop Sotela.

ARTICLE22

Rated: Good

Every piece of ARTICLE22 jewellery is locally handcrafted in Laos using recycled materials from Vietnam War bombs, plane parts, military hardware, and other aluminium scraps. The brand embodies the innovation that the fashion industry needs more of—using recycled materials to produce beautiful globally-marketable products, while equipping locals artisans with new skill sets and providing them with a sustainable source of income. ARTICLE22 gives back to clear more unexploded bombs in Laos, supports traditional artisans, and donates a proportion of profit to community development for workers. The range is available in sizes S-XL.

See the rating.

Shop ARTICLE22.

Editor's note

Feature image via Pretty Little Thing, 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 our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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.