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A man wearing sunglasses, a printed shirt, and a bucket hat in an image faded behind the word Romwe with a highlighted sad face.
20 Mar
A man wearing sunglasses, a printed shirt, and a bucket hat in an image faded behind the word Romwe with a highlighted sad face.

How Ethical Is Romwe?

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Romwe is a SHEIN-owned, ultra fast-fashion retailer that thrives on overconsumption, a lack of transparency and social media influence for its global success. But how successful is it in protecting people, the planet, and animals involved in its manufacturing? How ethical is Romwe?

This article is based on the Romwe rating published in February 2024 and may not reflect claims the brand has made since then. Our ratings analysts are constantly rerating the thousands of brands you can check on our directory.

We need to talk about Romwe

Launched in 2010, Romwe describes itself as the “one-stop shop for all things cool” and “your social-inspired style obsession”. The brand relies on overconsumption by its customers, dubbing its range of clothes, accessories, and gadgets “endless” and encouraging shoppers to “discover new things [they] didn’t know [they] needed”.

Romwe is a prime example of ultra fast fashion—a new business model for fashion retailers that allows them to churn out clothes even more speedily than the already unsustainable fast fashion business, and in who-knows-what working conditions for those making the garments. This purveyor of cheap clothing was acquired by fast fashion giant SHEIN (rated “We Avoid”) in 2014.

In recent years, Romwe has been called out for producing poorly made garments, using deceptive advertising, taking weeks to ship clothes, manipulating reviews, failing to safeguard its customers’ data (and then lying about it), and even shipping clothes with fleas. Yikes.

As you can likely tell, this is a brand to be wary of. But how is Romwe really impacting the planet, people, and animals? How sustainable is Romwe?

The truth is, there isn’t much to say about the brand because it discloses so little about its practices, and that’s a major red flag. It claims to be committed to making positive actions in the fashion industry, but how can we know—or hold Romwe accountable—if it won’t detail what those actions are? More on this abysmal transparency later.

Read on to find out what our analysts did discover when they rated Romwe.

Environmental impact

Romwe rates “Very Poor” for the planet. Our ratings analysts couldn’t find any evidence that Romwe is taking meaningful action to address textile waste or protect biodiversity in its supply chain, or to reduce its climate impacts. What’s more, the brand uses very few lower-impact materials.

Romwe prides itself on “only [producing] 50-100 pieces per new product to ensure that no raw materials are wasted”, but it still launches new collections at lightning speed and implements high-scale production as soon as it confirms that a product is in demand. Perpetuating this fast-fashion system of quickly changing trends—even if the brand claims to only be manufacturing small batches—is severely damaging the industry and the planet.

Labour conditions

Once again, we found very little publicly available information about Romwe’s practices for the people in its supply chain, so we’ve rated it “Very Poor” in this area, too.

There’s no evidence that its supply chain is certified by important labour standards that help secure workers’ rights, including their health and safety, and living wages. Speaking of which—there’s also no evidence it ensures workers are paid living wages, or that it supports diversity and inclusion throughout its supply chain.

Animal welfare

Romwe rates “Not Good Enough” for our animal pillar, because while it does have a formal policy aligned with the Five Freedoms of animal welfare, there is no evidence of any clear implementation mechanisms in place.

There’s also nothing to show that Romwe traces animal-derived materials to the first production stage—an issue highlighted when, in 2020, Romwe was found to be selling real fur as faux fur in the UK, suggesting it either doesn’t know what’s really going on throughout its supply chain, or it simply doesn’t care.

Overall rating

Overall, Romwe is rated “We Avoid”—our lowest possible score.

It is your right to know how Romwe’s production practices impact the planet, people, and animals, and at the moment, the brand just isn’t disclosing enough. In fact, Fashion Revolution’s 2023 Transparency Index gave it a measly score of 0-10% for its lack of publicly available information, which isn’t good enough for a retailer as big and influential as Romwe.

Transparency is crucial to ethical and sustainable fashion and is the first step towards reducing a business’ impact.

“As much as we are dedicated to providing a large selection of unique products at affordable prices, we are just as committed to making a positive impact on our customers, employees and the environment,” says Romwe. If that’s truly the case, then we need to see a lot more evidence from the brand. It needs to start disclosing more information about how, where, and by whom its items are produced, as well as the materials used.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that given all this, and the scandals it has been caught up in, the retailer is firmly in our list of the top ten fast fashion brands we avoid at all costs.

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.

Here, the Good On You team shares a few ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ brands to choose from if you want to avoid Romwe and its parent company, SHEIN.

Good swaps

More sustainable alternatives to Romwe

OMNES

Rated: Good
People in chic styles by responsible womenswear brand OMNES.

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female presenting model wearing omnes dresses

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OMNES is a more responsible and more affordable UK-based brand creating high quality womenswear. "We created OMNES to help change the way you shop, wear and think about clothing. And to encourage the rest of the industry to do it, too," says the brand.

Find most items in sizes 6-20.

See the rating.

Shop OMNES.

Kotn

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.

Afends

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.

CHNGE

Rated: Good

CHNGE is a US-based more 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.

Krochet Kids

Rated: Good
boy wearing knitted fox beanie by ethical brand Krochet Kids

Krochet Kids produces ethically made clothing that creates jobs and changes lives. It uses some eco-friendly materials and is on a mission to improve social conditions for workers.

See the rating.

Shop Krochet Kids.

Yes Friends

Rated: Great

Yes Friends is a UK-based fashion brand that creates more affordable clothing for everyone. Yes Friends' first product, classic cut t-shirts, cost less than £4 to make and the brand only charges £7.99. Using large scale production and direct to consumer margins means Yes Friends can charge you an affordable price for its more responsible clothing.

Find the range inclusively sized in 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Yes Friends.

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
yellow sustainable skate shoes by Cariuma brand

CARIUMA is a more sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

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.

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