30 Mar

How Ethical Is Skims?

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 Skims rating 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.

See the rating.

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.

Good swaps

Sustainable alternatives to Skims

KENT

Rated: Good

KENT is a US-based brand that creates timeless organic underwear for women, ensuring a quality fit and feel no matter what. It produces the first verified compostable underwear, made from organic cotton and designed to return to nature in 90 days when composted or planted, feeding the soil and growing new plants (or future pants). Find most pants in sizes XS to 2XL.

See the rating.

Shop KENT.

MATE the Label

Rated: Great

MATE the Label creates clean essentials made with GOTS certified organic fabrics and low-impact dyes. Its goal is to offer women everywhere a clean product that is just as beautiful as it is sustainable. It is proudly female-founded and is predominately operated by women. This US brand also manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint. Find the range in inclusive sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop MATE the Label.

Underprotection

Rated: Good
woman wearing sustainably made sleepwear by ethical brand Underprotection

Offers

Underprotection – Site-wide

Combining ethics with aesthetics, this Danish brand makes glamorous lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear you'll love. Get 1 pair of free tights with orders of €100+. (Ends: 30 SEP)

Shop now

Underprotection is a Danish brand combining ethics and aesthetics, creating underwear, loungewear, and swimwear from sustainable materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton. All of its packaging, paper, and polybags are either recycled or biodegradable, and it only works with certified factories as it believes “fair working conditions and fair wages are human rights”. Underprotection exists to celebrate women of all kinds, and its goal is to make them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible. You can find the full range in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Underprotection.

Shop Underprotection @ Curate.

Shop Underprotection @ LVR Sustainable.

Organic Basics

Rated: Great
people wearing organic basics basics

Organic Basics offers high-quality sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. It also recently launched its first sustainable denim collection! The Denmark-based brand puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything—it only chooses fabrics that care for our environment, and only ever partners with factories that care about their impact. Organic Basics clothes are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Organic Basics @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Organic Basics.

Proclaim

Rated: Good

Los Angeles-based Proclaim makes beautiful bras, underwear, and basics from eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic bottles and TENCEL. Its designs come in three shades of "nude", building inclusivity into the brand. It also ensures the people in its California factory earn a living wage, and visits suppliers regularly. Find the range in sizes S-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Proclaim.

Knickey

Rated: Great
knickey sustainable underwear set

Made in a Fair Trade Certified factory, Knickey’s organic cotton underwear sets are some of the best in the sustainable market. Taking it a step further, the brand has also partnered with an NYC non-profit to recycle old undergarments, turning the fibres into insulation and rug pads. Sending in your old undies will not only help cut down on the amount of fibres that wind up in the landfill, but it’ll give you the freedom to buy new, eco-conscious sets. Find most items in sizes 2XS to 3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Knickey.

Editor's note

Feature image via Skims, 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. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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