Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand, Skims, is one of the hottest brands on the market. But when it comes to ethics and sustainability, the brand provides insufficient relevant information. It’s time we answer one crucial question: how ethical is Skims? This article is based on the published in April 2021.
The influencer brand skimming scandals
For better or worse, Kim Kardashian is one of the most influential and controversial people on the planet.
When the media mogul launched her shapewear brand in 2019, she aimed for Skims to be a solutions-oriented brand, creating the next generation of underwear, loungewear, and shapewear. And despite a rocky start (Kim had to change the brand’s original name after being criticised for cultural appropriation), the brand has grown rapidly to boast 3.8 million Instagram followers today.
Kim’s recent advice for women in business to “Get your f*cking ass up and work” has sparked a lot of rightful criticism, so we wanted to take a closer look at her shapewear brand, Skims. How is Skims impacting people, the planet, and animals? How ethical is Skims? Let’s take a look.
How ethical is Skims?
Sadly, there’s not much to say about Skims. Usually, in these types of articles, we have a closer look at the brand’s rating and break it down so that you know more about how a brand is performing across the three key areas of environmental impact, labour conditions, and animal welfare.
But for Skims, we found very little information. The brand’s FAQ gives a very vague statement, saying the brand is “committed to the highest ethical standards and legal compliance in all aspects of [its] business and product supply chain. [It] only [works] with suppliers and vendors who [it believes] in and share [its] commitment to sustainability, accountability, and transparency”.
The brand also says all of its warehouse and factory workers are “ensured fair wages, safe environments, and healthy working conditions”, without giving details about what “fair wages” mean or any proof to back up these claims. And with seven former staff members already accusing Kim of withholding wages, refusing to pay overtime, and not giving them meal breaks, we can’t help but worry about the treatment of Skims workers abroad.
The brand’s FAQ also highlights Skims has “removed all plastic and non-recyclable materials from [its] packaging and replaced them with FSC recycled paper boxes and compostable, eco-friendly bags”. However, the brand was called out for misleading claims here, as the “film packaging” its items are shipped out in are still technically made of plastic despite bold letters claiming “I AM NOT PLASTIC” on the front. This is a perfect example of greenwashing and hints at the brand’s lack of commitment to sustainability throughout its supply chain.
Skims provides insufficient relevant information about how it reduces its impact on people, the planet, and animals. As a result, Kim Kardashian’s brand is rated “We Avoid”, our lowest possible score. As a shopper, you have the right to know how Skims’ production practices impact the world and its inhabitants.
It’s time Skims “gets its ass up” and starts disclosing more information about how, where, and by whom its items are produced, as well as the materials used. Transparency is crucial to ethical and sustainable fashion and is the first step towards reducing a business’ impact. The brand needs to put essential social and environmental practices in place, and with an estimated annual salary between $50 million and $80 million per year, Kim can certainly afford it.
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.
Luckily, the Good On You team found a few “Good” and “Great” brands to choose from if you want to support your bod and the planet.
Sustainable alternatives to Skims