04 Nov

How Ethical Is Reformation?

Launched in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation is best known for its 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 it does. But is that really the case?

Environmental Impact

Reformation is in many ways an environmental leader, which is why its environmental rating is ‘Great’. It uses eco-friendly materials, like Tencel and recycled materials, and some of its products are Bluesign and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. The brand also reuses offcuts created during the manufacturing process, reduces its carbon footprint by manufacturing much of its range close to where it is sold, and uses a reputable carbon offset program.

It provides a RefScale for each of its garments, breaking down the item’s impact on the environment for you, and even uses recycled paper hangers and minimises 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

But it isn’t perfect. Reformation doesn’t publish enough information about how or where its products are dyed, and we’re concerned about the impact of the chemicals used in its viscose process. For example, on one of the products it says: “Viscose–aka rayon–is man-made cellulosic fiber made from wood pulp.”

Reformation states it’s doing its best to source wood from sustainably managed forests with the help of Canopy. However, 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.

Labour Conditions

Most of the design and manufacturing of Reformation’s limited-edition collections is completed in the factory headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. It has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles, and is 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. The brand also traces most of its supply chain including all of the final and second stages of production, and visits its suppliers regularly. For all these reasons, we rated Reformation’s labour conditions ‘Good’.

Animal Welfare

Reformation’s animal impact is rated ‘Not Good Enough’. This is because, while Reformation doesn’t use fur, down, angora, or other exotic animal skin, and uses recycled wool, it does occasionally use leather and exotic animal hair. With so many fantastic leather alternatives out there, there is no need to continue exploiting our animal friends for profit.

Overall Rating: Good

Rated: Good

Reformation has been rated ‘Good’ based on information from our own research. For the most part, the brand is 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 its way to earning our top rating – and we’d love to see it happen!

See the rating.

Shop Reformation @ Farfetch.

Shop Reformation.

Editor's note: Cover image via Reformation. This article was updated in November 2019. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.

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