Yes, Boohoo is a fast fashion brand.
Boohoo is a British online fashion retailer. It is the flagship brand of the Boohoo Group, which owns 13 fast fashion brands, including BoohooMAN, Burton, Coast, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Karen Millen, Misspap, Nasty Gal, Oasis, Pretty Little Thing, Warehouse, and Wallis. Boohoo Group was co-founded in 2006 by Asian-British businessmen Mahmud Kamani (worth £1 billion), his brother Jalal Kamani, and white British businesswoman Carol Kane (worth £100 million). The business made £1.2 billion in revenue in 2020 and employs over 2,000 direct employees, as well as 5,000 UK-based garment workers and third-party employees.
Boohoo is a fast fashion brand due to the speed it produces it clothes, the scale at which it sells clothes, and sheer number scale of the clothes that it makes.
Fashion Revolution Transparency Rating: 28/100
Good On You Sustainability Rating: 2/5
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: 13/150
Additional Reasons Why Boohoo Is A Fast Fashion Brand
Over the past few years, Boohoo and the Boohoo Group has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not care for its staff, garment workers, or impact on the planet:
- When looking at the Boohoo.com site in October 2022, I found them selling tens of thousands of styles, including 9,520 dresses, 11,236 tops, 2,767 coats and jackets, and even 1,125 styles of jeans. These huge product ranges demonstrate their fast fashion business model and focus to profit from the overproduction of clothes.
- I also found clothes being sold on Boohoo for as little as £1. It is not possible to make clothing for this price without some form of exploitation of people and planet – at the very least, it’s made at a quality so low it will not last.
- Boohoo has a “sustainable collection” called Ready For Future, where it slaps a label on any clothing that uses “20% or more ‘better materials'”. This definition is not clear and could be constituted as greenwashing…
- …Boohoo is currently being investigated by the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority for greenwashing.
- Boohoo has released a list of its Tier 1 suppliers, showing it works with over 1,300 suppliers around the world.
- In late 2022, Boohoo was found to be sourcing polyester from a manufacturer using Russian oil, despite having suspended its sales to the country in protest of the illegal war on Ukraine.
- In 2022, Good On You noted that “little of [Boohoo’s] supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages or other labour rights.” That means we don’t know how the people in these 1,300 factories are being treated.
- Good On You also found that Boohoo “uses few eco-friendly materials” and provides no evidence it has “taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals” or “minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products.”
- In 2021, Boohoo Group launched its Sustainability Plan called UP.FRONT. Within this, it outlines incredibly vague aims that apply to ALL 13 BRANDS, such as:
- “[By] 2030, all the materials we use in our garments will be more sustainably sourced”, except there is no legal definition for what ‘sustainably sourced’ means, and by saying ‘more sustainably sourced’, they can achieve this by changing one button…
- Boohoo makes no promise to reduce its use of oil-based textiles, despite polyester being one of the top two textiles its clothes are made from.
- Boohoo aims to make “all garment packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable” by 2023, which means it’ll continue using plastic, as plastic is reusable.
- Within this entire plan, Boohoo has set just one measurable, science-based target, aiming to reduce its carbon emissions by 52% by 2030. It’s a good start, but 2030 is also the year when global carbon emissions need to reach net zero.
- The company aims to “announce more goals in 2023”, but I’m not holding my breath on seeing any efforts to stop using oil-based textiles, curb overproduction, or embrace true circularity.
- In the same year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched an investigation into Boohoo for the”slave-like conditions” in some of its apparel factories.
- On its corporate website, Boohoo says “our Group of today is a stronger, more sustainable and ethical business.” If this comparison is made to its previous years, where it allegedly paid UK garment workers less than minimum wage, congratulations. Personally, I would describe that as a more “legal” business, not sustainable or ethical.
- At the time of the illegal wage allegations, CEO Carol Kane spoke to British media to boost her image, rather than apologise. My open letter was also, sadly, ignored.
- Boohoo set up ‘The Leicester Garment and Textile Workers Trust’ in the face of the alleged illegal wage allegations, donating £1 million to the trust. This was in the same year that they made £850 million in revenue…
- In 2021, Boohoo’s website was found to have the highest digital footprint per visitor: “Boohoo was found to emit the highest number of CO2 emissions per visit at 7.21g.” It now offers a low-impact version of their website, but you do have to choose this option rather than have it implemented as standard.
- In 2020, Boohoo reportedly paid subcontracted staff illegally low wages, as little as £3.50 per hour in UK factories.
Sustainable Alternatives To Boohoo
If you’re looking to stop shopping at Boohoo, I recommend checking out the list of affordable brands in my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands, or consider searching for similar styles second-hand on my favourite second-hand fashion sites.
This post is part of a larger guide to UK fast fashion brands, which goes into more detail about the issues with fast fashion, why it will never be sustainable, and how to make your wardrobe more sustainable.
Data for this review is taken from the brand’s website, corporate website, Wikipedia, and sites linked throughout. All information is assumed correct at date of publication. Last updated: October 2022.