01 Dec

How Ethical Is ZAFUL?

Popular online retailer ZAFUL is known for thousands of trendy items at low prices, but is ZAFUL ethical or sustainable?

Landing on ZAFUL’s homepage is like a virtual slap in the face. With bold text boasting “75% off… flash sale… down to AU$2.99… hot deals… buy 1 get 1 free” and everything in between, it’s a shopaholic’s dream come true. But underneath all those flashing numbers trying to entice you into buying a bunch of clothes you probably don’t need, something sinister is going on. Let’s take a closer look and ask: how ethical is ZAFUL?

A sea of red flags

Okay, it’s no secret people are iffy about ZAFUL. Some of the top searches when Googling the brand are enough to turn anybody off—” Are SHEIN and ZAFUL the same?”, “Is ZAFUL legit?”, “Is ZAFUL a scam?”. There are complaints about poor quality, dodgy shipping, and even people wondering if it’s safe to share your credit card information with the brand.

Manufactured in China but now with an office in the US, youth-oriented trend-driven ZAFUL ships worldwide so everyone can, ah, benefit? And with 5 million followers on Instagram, it’s clearly popular despite the widespread misgivings. So, back up—how does it rate on our Directory for people, the planet, and animals?

How sustainable is ZAFUL?

It’s pretty simple: ZAFUL doesn’t provide enough information about its products for us to be able to award it any points whatsoever. This lack of transparency is the biggest red flag of all because there is no way for us or you to know what is going on behind the scenes of this ultra-fast fashion brand.

However, it is safe to assume that the garment workers pumping out thousands of products with prices as low as $1 for a necklace and $4 for a tank top aren’t likely paid a living wage. Although the brand’s manufacturing page says it is “serious about making sure every single person in the supply chain is safe at work, respected, and earns a living wage,” we would need to see published proof since people’s welfare isn’t a benefit-of-the-doubt kind of situation.

Under a short paragraph titled “Green Planet”, ZAFUL claims it is aiming to reduce the environmental footprint of the clothing industry. But the only specific it actually mentions is “using water-based screen printing inks”. And since chances are most purchases end up in landfill after the shortest love-hate relationship there ever was, ZAFUL has a long way to go before it can be called sustainable.

It should come as no surprise, then, that ZAFUL receives our lowest score of “We Avoid”, placing it right down there with the fast fashion brands we avoid at all costs. Keeping poor company with names like Missguided, Fashion Nova, and Boohoo is bad news for ZAFUL.

At the end of the day, you have a right to know how the products you buy affect the issues you care about, so our advice here is pretty simple—steer clear. You can do better.

Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s 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

Here are some ethical and sustainable alternatives to ZAFUL that prioritise workers, the environment, and animals in their production. Trust us; the ridiculously low price tag is the only thing you’ll be missing, and you’ll get far more value out of the pieces in the long run anyway.

nat’v basics

Rated: Good

Offers

A set of organic aqua underwear ethically made by nat'v basics.

nat’v basics – Sets

Save money by pairing up bottoms designed to beautifully and comfortably embrace your figure. Limited Time Sale: 40% off selected knickers sets. (Ends: 3 JUN)

Shop now
three women wearing neutral tone sustainable lingerie by nat'v basics

nat’v basics – Bras and Bralettes

Created to be timeless pieces in your drawer, you’ll be seduced by comfort and fall in love with the design. Limited Time Sale: 40% off selected bras and bralettes. (Ends: 3 JUN)

Shop now
woman wearing white sustainable knickers by Nat'v Basics

nat’v basics – Knickers

Your ultimate comfort knickers, perfect for lazy days or when you feel a little more cheeky. Limited Time Sale: 40% off selected knickers. (Ends: 3 JUN)

Shop now

nat'v basics is an Australian eco-friendly underwear label designed for the everyday woman. Made from recycled and sustainable materials, nat'v basics pieces are designed to be the most comfortable basics you’ll ever wear. No frills or trims or awkward bits—so you can put them on and forget you’re wearing them! Find most items in sizes 8 to 16.

See the rating.

Shop nat'v basics.

Unrecorded

Rated: Good

Unrecorded is an independent clothing brand from the Netherlands that represents a new wave of unisex brands that are rebelling against the nature of fast fashion. Unrecorded is passionate about style, and produces apparel using eco-friendly materials. Its range includes items that are all year round essentials suitable for any wardrobe, available in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Unrecorded.

Elle Evans

Rated: Great

Founded in 2013, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, sustainable, swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain. The range is stocked in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.

Vitamin A

Rated: Good
woman smiling on sand wearing sustainable swimwear by Vitamin A

Made locally in California, Vitamin A’s collections of swimwear and loungewear use a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, including recycled nylon. The brand also uses a waterless process to print its designs with, reducing its chemical and water usage. Find the pieces in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Vitamin A.

Shop Vitamin A @ Curate.

Underprotection

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

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.

The Nude Label

Rated: Good
woman wearing sustainable underwear by The Nude Label ethical brand

The Nude Label curates comfy vegan underwear, swimwear, and sandals that feel as good as they look. All the pieces are made in a family-run factory in Valencia, Spain. The closeness to the studio allows The Nude Label to have greater control over the process and ensure good working practices. Most products are available in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop The Nude Label.

Afends

Rated: Good

Afends is an Australia-based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact. You can find the full range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Editor's note

Feature image via ZAFUL, 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 more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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