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17 Jun

Missguided in Every Sense of the Word: a Cautionary Tale of Fast Fashion Exploitation

In recent news, the downfall of Missguided has demonstrated the exploitation at the heart of the ultra fast fashion business model. Here’s what you need to know. 

Millions of pounds are owed to workers

In recent news, UK-based Frasers Group has reportedly acquired digital fashion retailer Missguided for $25.1 million USD, according to The Guardian. The deal includes certain intellectual property of both the Missguided and Mennace brands.

Missguided fell into administration on May 30, 2022, after being issued a winding-up petition by clothing suppliers. The fast fashion company first fell into financial difficulties in fall 2021 but was saved when private equity firm Alteri stepped in to buy a controlling stake.

Recently, on 10 June, 2022, Labour Behind the Label organised a protest in London—calling on the brand to pay workers first. Millions of pounds are still owed to suppliers around the world, the organisation says.

Lack of accountability isn’t new to ultra fast fashion

Sadly, this lack of accountability didn’t start last week. In fact, according to BBC News, consumers have been chasing their orders and refunds for a few months. Even worse, it took quite a while for the Missguided website to halt advertising and taking orders, despite reports that its warehouse had already shut down.

Along with failed consumer responsibility, the label has continuously shirked its financial and employer responsibilities as well.

Like many other brands, the company enjoyed rapid growth during the pandemic with the help of micro-trends and TikTok’s bursting popularity. A year later, however, the company quickly struggled as physical stores reopened and spending power was hit hard by the cost of living and inflation.

Unsurprisingly, management failed to safeguard those most at risk of exploitation. But why would they when their business model has exploited workers since the start?

Breaking down Missguided’s rating

As our rating demonstrates, the brand was making problematic claims from the start.

In fact, they used to leverage how well they “treated women” in their head office as pioneers and “breaking the glass ceiling.” Yet, there was absolutely no evidence that Missguided was inclusive or protected worker’s rights in their supply chain. Whilst they had a social auditing program, details were incredibly light on how that auditing program was implemented, the way violations were remediated, and what issues were even checked when auditing.

From an environmental perspective, Missguided received our lowest rating, providing no information on how they managed textile waste, climate change, chemicals, or water.

But, clearly, Missguided isn’t the only company to rate poorly for labour rights and the environment. This is simply the norm with ultra fast fashion brands, which have an infamous track record of mistreating, exploiting, and underpaying workers. The brand’s recent downfall is a cautionary tale—showing us the industry’s dark side.

Exploitation and the lack of accountability is simply how the model works for brands like Missguided.

What can you do?

Opting out of ultra fast fashion by taking care of what’s already in your closet and shopping second hand is one place to start.

But you can do more to advocate for the rights of garment workers.

Organisations like Labour Behind the Label and Clean Clothes Campaign are a few ways to engage. The #PayYourWorkers petition helps support garment workers, too.

Check out how the most popular TikTok fashion brands rate to understand more about fast fashion’s negative impacts on people and planet.

Editor's note

Feature image by Missguided. 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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