Yes, Matalan is a fast fashion brand.
Matalan is a British fashion brand and high street store, founded by white British businessman John Hargreaves (worth £600 million) in 1985. Today it is owned by the Hargreaves family and operates 230 in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. It makes £1.1 billion annually.
On Matalan’s website, it only displays what is legally required in relation to their supply chain and corporate structure. There is no mention of sustainability, code of conduct, compliance, etc.
It appears this lack of humanity is nothing new. In 2013, Matalan was implicated alongside 28 fashion retailers with the Rana Plaza factory collapse. They initially refused to sign an agreement to provide compensation to the families of the 1,134 garment workers who lost their lives, and the 2,500 people who were injured. After receiving pressure from charities and activists, Matalan agreed to provide compensation of an undisclosed amount. It made its donation just one day before the deadline. It was later uncovered that Matalan paid just £60,000 (just under £53 per person who died). In comparison, Primark paid $9 million.
In 2020, it appeared that a number of garment factories supplying clothes to Matalan had their payments stopped, with this stock instead going towards Lost Stock boxes. I myself found an item of Matalan’s in my box.
I think Matalan is worse than fast fashion – it is an inhumane business. It appears it will only take a better approach for its people and planet after issues arise. Demonstrated here, they strive for the most basic working conditions legally possible, and the most basic materials, focusing on profit over everything else.
Transparency Rating: 18/100
Sustainability Rating: 2/5
This snippet 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, and Wikipedia. The Transparency Rating is from Fashion Transparency Index 2020. The Sustainability Rating is from Good On You.