Yes, Bershka is a fast fashion brand.
Bershka is a Spanish fashion retailer. It is owned by Inditex Group, whose brands include Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, and Zara. It was founded by Inditex in 1998 as a fast fashion concept, aimed at a young target market.
Inditex was co-founded by white Spanish businesspeople Amancio Ortega (worth $70.6 billion) and Rosalía Mera (worth $6.1 billion). As part of the group, Bershka is owned by shareholders and brought in over € 2.1 billion in revenue in 2021 across its website and 1,000+ worldwide stores.
Bershka is a fast fashion brand due to the speed it produces its clothes, the huge scale of clothing styles that it offers, and the sheer number of clothes that it sells.
Fashion Revolution Transparency Rating: 43/100
Good On You Sustainability Rating: 2/5
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: 24/150
Additional Reasons Why Bershka Is A Fast Fashion Brand
- Inditex is the largest fast fashion company in the world based on revenue, and it employing more than three million people across its supply chains. Bershka makes up 10% of their overall sales.
- Inditex boasts that it can design and prototype new styles in just five days, and the entire design process takes as little as 15 days in total. Inditex often chooses to use local labour (in Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Morocco) to increase the speed of production further. This is the epitome of fast fashion.
- Bershka has a ‘sustainable’ collection called Join Life, touting over 380 pieces that are considered more sustainable than their main collection. When I looked at a number of Join Life items sold at Bershka, I found they had weak credentials, such as a coat made with “at least 25% recycled polyester” and socks made with “at least 75% ecologically grown cotton”. It’s important to note that ecologically grown cotton isn’t organic cotton, it’s “grown using natural fertilisers and pesticides” which Inditex swears “reduces the CO2 emissions” and that “no genetically modified seeds are used during its cultivation” despite only 13% of all cotton grown worldwide being genetically modified. Why not just use organic cotton?!
- Good On You notes that “little of [Bershka’s] supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages or other labour rights” meaning we don’t know how the people who make Bershka’s clothes are being treated.
- Inditex has a number of sustainability aims that revolve around the word ‘more’, meaning they can be achieved by making very little advancements, e.g.:
- To use 100% more sustainable cotton by 2023
- To use 100% sustainable man-made cellulosic fibres from more sustainable sources by 2023
- To use 100% more sustainable linen and recycled polyester by 2025
- Inditex aims to reach Net Zero Emissions by 2040, which is 10 years after the UN warned that the world needs to achieve Net Zero.
- In late 2022, Bershka, as part of Inditex Group, 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 2021, Bershka was linked with sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang region in China which was (and still is) likely to be the product of Uyghur forced labour.
- In 2020, Inditex stopped paying its garment factories using covid-19 as an excuse. After external pressure, the group promised to pay their garment factories due to covid-19, but it should have done that anyway if its “sustainable business model” really was just that. Which it isn’t.
Sustainable Alternatives To Bershka
If you’re looking to stop shopping at Bershka, I recommend checking out the affordable brands listed in my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands, or consider searching for second-hand Bershka garments 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.