12 Aug

How Ethical Is Reformation?

Launched in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation is best known for their knockout party dresses and cute mix’n’match separates. Based in downtown Los Angeles, this fashion brand states that sustainability is at the core of everything they do. But is this really the case?

Environmental Impact: Great (mostly)

Reformation is in many ways an environmental leader. It uses eco-friendly materials and reuses offcuts created during the manufacturing process, it reduces its carbon footprint by manufacturing much of its range close to where it is sold and uses a reputable carbon offset program.

They also provide a RefScale for each of their garments –  breaking down the item’s impact on the environment for you. They use recycled paper hangers and minimise the use of packaging with 100% consumer waste materials. Broadly speaking Reformation is proving that you can look cute and protect the earth at the same time. So why did we say that they’re doing mostly great when it comes to the environment?

Reformation doesn’t publish enough information about how or where their products are dyed, and we’re concerned about the impact of the chemicals used in their viscose process. For example, on one of their products they say: “This is made of viscose. It’s a natural fibre and therefore biodegradable. This viscose is woven in a mill free of harmful substances such as heavy metals, dyes and formaldehydes.”

Unfortunately, this doesn’t explain whether the natural fibre (typically wood from eucalyptus) was sustainably-sourced. Moreover, while the viscose was woven in a chemical-free mill, further up the chain toxic chemicals (caustic soda) were almost certainly used to create the viscose yarn out of wood pulp. It’s heartening to see, however, that they’ve told Project Just that they’re working on a Restricted Substances List, and keeping responsible chemistry a key priority.

Labour Conditions: Good

Most of the design and manufacturing of their limited-edition collections is completed in the factory headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and they are working toward paying 100% living wages across the board. Over three-quarters of Reformation’s management team are women (you go girls) or people from underrepresented populations.

Animal Welfare: It’s a Start

While Reformation does occasionally use leather, wool and alpaca in their products, they don’t use fur, down, angora or other exotic animal skin or hair.

Overall Rating: Good

Rated: Good

Reformation has been rated ‘Good’ based on information from our own research. For the most part, they are leading the way for ethical fashion with transparent sustainability practices. Where to improve? More straight talking on chemicals please!

We remain concerned that Reformation is not telling the full story on this important environmental issue. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Reformation is engaging in a spot of greenwashing here. With greater efforts and transparency on chemicals and animal-welfare, Reformation could be on their way to earning our top rating.

Editor's note: Images via Reformation.

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