Yes, Marks & Spencer is a fast fashion brand.
Marks & Spencer (a.k.a M&S or if you’re fancy, Marks & Sparks) is a British retailer that sells own-brand fashion (Autograph, Goodmove, Per Una, Rosie for M&S) as well as third-party fashion, homeware, and food. It was founded by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in 1884 and today is owned by shareholders. It operates 1463 stores with 78,000 employees and made £10,181 million in revenue in 2020.
Marks & Spencer is a fast fashion brand due to the speed of production and scale of the clothing that it sells.
Fashion Revolution Transparency Rating: 48/100
Ethical Consumer Score: 3/15
Good On You Sustainability Rating: 3/5
Additional Reasons Why Marks & Spencer Is A Fast Fashion Brand
- In late 2022, Marks & Spencer was found to be sourcing polyester from a manufacturer using Russian oil, despite having suspended sales to the country in protest of the illegal war on Ukraine.
- In 2022, Marks & Spencer was found to have multiple links to JBS, a Brazilian firm responsible for much of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest through cattle rearing and leather production.
- Despite its award-winning CSR initiative, Plan A, and its current iteration of that, Plan A 2025, M&S still operates using a linear, fast fashion model for its own-brand clothing labels.
- When writing this guide, I found M&S selling 696 styles of clothing across its own brands. That’s too much.
- In 2021, the Changing Markets Foundation found that 88% of M&S’ green claims were greenwashed.
- In a bid to increase profitability, M&S has performed “store culls” every year in the past six years, culminating in the job losses of 7,000 employees in 2020, close to 10% of its entire staff, during a global pandemic.
- Marks & Spencer has a gender pay gap of 4.1%, meaning women earn 96p for every £1 that men earn when comparing median hourly pay.
- According to Ethical Consumer, the company also uses tax avoidance schemes, through three holding companies, and 19 companies in tax havens.
- In addition to M&S’ pattern of staff culls, Good On You highlights that the business “is not taking adequate steps to ensure payment of a living wage for its workers in its supply chain.“
Sustainable Alternatives To Marks & Spencer
If you’re looking to stop shopping at Marks & Spencer, I recommend checking out the mid-range brands listed in my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands, as well as 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. The Transparency Rating is from Fashion Transparency Index 2021. All information is assumed correct at date of publication.