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06 Jul

How Ethical Is REVOLVE?

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Fashion e-commerce leader REVOLVE is claiming it’s creating “meaningful change in the way [it does] things today to ensure a better tomorrow”. But how ethical is REVOLVE, really? Sadly, the brand is doing very little for people, the planet, and animals. REVOLVE’s lack of transparency and tangible initiatives is worrying. Read the article to learn more about REVOLVE’s “We Avoid” rating. This article is based on the REVOLVE rating published in October 2021.

REVOLVE, e-commerce and sustainability leader?

Founded in 2003, REVOLVE has grown rapidly to become a fashion e-commerce leader, going public in 2019 and now boasting 5.4 million followers on Instagram.

But growth isn’t a smooth process and the brand has known its ups and downs. In 2018, REVOLVE had to remove a fat-phobic sweatshirt from its platform. More recently, REVOLVE received backlash on social media after the failure of its Coachella-like, influencer-only festival which “not only failed to meet attendees’ expectations, but jeopardised their physical safety in a disaster of mismanagement” according to The Harvard Crimson.

When it comes to sustainability, the brand says it understands “the importance of using [its] platform to create meaningful change in the way [it does] things today to ensure a better tomorrow” and that it is “committed to do its part to help protect the resources that we all share and depend on for our future” and “to stand up and make a substantial and long-lasting impact to fight inequality”. But is that really the case? How is REVOLVE really impacting people, the planet, and animals? In short: how ethical is REVOLVE?

Environmental impact

We rate REVOLVE “Very Poor” for its impact on the environment. It uses few eco-friendly materials, and we found no evidence that the brand reduces its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain, that it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, or that it implements water reduction initiatives.

The fashion industry is a massive consumer and polluter of fresh water. According to Common Objective, the industry is said to use around 93 billion cubic metres of water per year, enough to meet the needs of 5 million people. Water is a scarce resource, and it’s become crucial for REVOLVE to manage its water use and treatment of wastewater.

Removing invoices and offering paperless returns is nice, but it’s not enough.

Labour conditions

REVOLVE also rates “Very Poor” for people. The brand sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse and we found no evidence it has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint. It also doesn’t appear to have any policies or safeguards to protect suppliers or workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.

More importantly, we found no evidence REVOLVE ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain. A living wage is the bare minimum wage required for workers to live a decent life. It’s different from the legal minimum wage, which is usually far below the living wage. Garment workers need to be protected and treated fairly.

Animal welfare

Finally, REVOLVE’s animal rating is “Not Good Enough”. Despite not using fur, down, angora, or exotic animal skin, the brand still uses leather and wool. We found also no evidence the brand has a policy to minimise the suffering of animals or that it traces any animal product to the first stage of production.

Overall rating: We Avoid

REVOLVE isn’t creating positive change through its operations like it claims, and the brand’s sustainability statement smells of greenwashing. REVOLVE is clearly not doing enough to reduce its impact on the planet and its inhabitants. It needs to do far more: starting with being more transparent about its practices, using more eco-friendly materials, ditching the harmful animal-based ones, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and making sure its workers are paid a living wage and treated fairly.

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 REVOLVE

TAMGA Designs

Rated: Good
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TAMGA Designs is out to prove how colourful and exciting responsible fashion can be. TAMGA offers a range of tops, skirts, dresses, and accessories made from lower-impact fabrics like TENCEL and ECOVERO.

You can find the full range of this Canadian brand in sizes XS-2XL.

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Rated: Good
Someone on roof wearing clothes by Afends.

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a 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, they purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow their own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

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Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

Whimsy + Row is a US-based lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and responsible practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern woman. Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, and by limiting each garment to short runs, the brand also reduces packaging waste and takes care of precious water resources.

Find most products in XS-XL, with an extended sizing range up to 3XL.

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Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Good
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Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury clothes made with fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses lower-impact materials like recycled polyester as well as lower-impact, non-toxic dyes and is fully OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified.

Inclusively sized Girlfriend Collective offers products from 2XS-6XL.

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Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVRSustainable.

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Left Edit

Rated: Great
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Left Edit is based on an identified need for more fashion-forward garments that are equally as sustainable as they are stylish & affordable.

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Editor's note

Feature image via REVOLVE, 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.

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