13 Apr

How Ethical Is Superdry?

UK-based Superdry’s rating was recently updated from “Not Good Enough” to “It’s a Start”. For the latest updates, check the brand’s rating. In this companion piece, we explore some of the brand’s prior claims to “become the most sustainable listed global fashion brand by 2030”. While they are making some commendable strides on the environmental front, we find no evidence it’s paying workers a living wage. This article is based on the Superdry rating published in April 2022.

Superdry is making a start on sustainability

With more than 740 Superdry stores in 61 different countries, UK-based Superdry is a clothing brand with a significant presence around the world. We decided it was high time we took a closer look at the brand’s sustainable practices.

Founded in 2003, Superdry mixes Americana and Japanese inspirations and describes itself as “energy, creativity, an incubator for a new visual identity, inspired by community, culture, and collaboration.”

The brand also aims to “become the most sustainable listed global fashion brand by 2030”, but how realistic is it? How is Superdry impacting people, the planet, and animals? How ethical is Superdry?

Environmental impact

Superdry’s environment rating is “It’s a Start”. The brand uses some eco-friendly materials, including Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton, in 30% of its cotton ranges. Superdry also reuses some of its offcuts to minimise textile waste.

It has set a deadline to eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2030 but there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target just yet. When it comes to water, Superdry says it “will baseline [its] water footprint in 2022, with the aim to reduce the water [it uses] in manufacturing [its] garments by 20% by 2025 and 40% by 2030”, and it’s good to see these water reduction initiatives in action across its supply chain.

Labour conditions

Superdry’s labour rating is also “Not Good Enough”. The brand proudly states it has “completed Phase 1 of [its] Respect and Dignity programme in India, empowering over 37% of [its] third-party factory workforce”. But this is not enough.

Some of its supply chain is certified by Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit – SMETA Best Practice Guidance and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). It received a score of 31-40% in the 2021 Fashion Transparency Index.

Worryingly, there is no evidence Superdry implements practices to support diversity and inclusion in most of its supply chain. We also found no evidence the brand ensures payment of a living wage. “Leading positive change” sounds good, but making sure workers are paid and treated fairly is better.

Animal welfare

Superdry goes back up to “It’s a Start” for animal welfare. The brand has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with the Five Freedoms and traces most animal products to the first production stage. But despite not using fur, exotic animal skin, or angora, it still uses leather, exotic animal hair, wool (though certified by the Responsible Wool Standard) and down (certified by the Responsible Down Standard).

Overall rating: It’s a Start

With an overall rating of “It’s a Start”, Superdry still has work to do to achieve its goal of becoming one of the most sustainable fashion brands in the world. The brand should start incorporating more sustainable and non-animal-derived materials and ensure it is on track with its elimination of hazardous chemicals. But more importantly, it needs to ensure workers across the entire supply chain are paid a living wage. There’s no sustainability without decent pay.

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 April 2022 rating.

If you’re into “statement designs, unexpected prints, assured styles”, you’re in luck. We found ethical and sustainable alternatives to Superdry that are just as cool.

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to Superdry

Plant Faced Clothing

Rated: Good

Streetwear without sweatshops, that's the motto of this British 100% plant-based, ethical, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand. Buy Plant Faced Clothing in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Plant Faced Clothing.

Patagonia

Rated: Good

Patagonia is a brand that truly lives and breathes the great outdoors. It makes clothing for trail running, climbing, mountain biking, surfing, skiing, and snowboarding. Patagonia has strong labour rights and uses recycled, rather than virgin, polyester. It has also committed to reducing its energy use and emissions, and stocks sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Patagonia @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Patagonia Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Patagonia Kids Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Patagonia.

Dedicated

Rated: Great

If you love a great graphic print, Swedish label Dedicated has you covered. Dedicated is an ethical streetwear brand for men, women, and children. All cotton used in its pieces are 100% organic and most are Fairtrade-certified, which means that you don’t have to sacrifice your ethics to dress in style. Find the clothes in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Dedicated.

Shop Dedicated @ Earthkind.

Colorful Standard

Rated: Good

Colorful Standard is a Danish clothing brand that makes organic fashion essentials for men and women. The brand doesn't care much for seasons or trends, instead, it creates timeless and long-lasting products to avoid the downward spiral that is over-consumption. Find most items in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Colorful Standard.

Superstainable

Rated: Good

Superstainable is an outdoor brand based in the outdoor capital of Denmark, Silkeborg, and made with the utmost respect for people and planet. Its outdoor essentials rely on quality, consciousness and transparency. All styles are made in organic or recycled materials.

See the rating.

Shop Superstainable.

MELAWEAR

Rated: Good

MELAWEAR is a German clothing brand that utilises GOTS certified organic cotton for all its pieces. Mela means "acting together" in Hindi. MELAWEAR's products are ecologically produced in harmony with nature. At the same time the brand maintains social and transparent partnerships and ensures the fair payment of everyone involved.

See the rating.

Shop MELAWEAR.

Adidas (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

While, like Superdry, Adidas is rated “It’s a Start”, buying pre-owned is always a good way to reduce your environmental footprint.

Adidas is one of the largest sportswear makers in the world. The company has set some good environmental and labour standards, including an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations.

See the rating.

Shop Adidas Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

 

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. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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