Yes, United Colors of Benetton is a fast fashion brand.
Founded by the white Italian Benetton family (worth over $3 billion), United Colors of Benetton is a leading fashion retailer. The brand has 5,000 stores worldwide and makes millions in revenue each year.
In terms of people, Benetton has approximately 1,500 employees and uses 25,000 workers through subcontractors. They publicly share their Code of Conduct online. Within this, they ask each of their partners to “not employ persons younger than 15 years or 14 years where national legislation so permits“. This means where countries permit it, children aged 14+ make their clothes.
Benetton is also one of the retailers associated with the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. They initially refused to take responsibility when 1,134 people died in the collapse, arguing they stopped production at the site before it happened (although that was just 20 days before). To this day still seem quite bitter about it, displaying three separate graphics on their site showing how Benetton’s product only made up 1.8% of all production that came out of Rana Plaza.
Incidentally, they do not document the fact that they only donated to the fund to help the families of the dead after protests shut down their Oxford Street store. To date, they have donated just over $1 million to the fund.
For sustainability, Benetton focus on materials (saying of all the materials they use, 91% are of natural origin, which could mean anything).
In late 2022, Benetton was found to be sourcing polyester from a manufacturer using Russian oil, and continues to operate its stores in the country despite customers’ protests against the illegal war on Ukraine.
Transparency Rating: 55/100
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.