Yes, Coast is a fast fashion brand.
Coast is a British womenswear retailer. It was founded in 1996, and at its height had over 20 stores in the UK, two in Ireland, and four in the Middle East. It was bought out by Boohoo Group in 2019, closing all of its stores, making over 300 people redundant, and today is an online-only fast fashion retailer.
Due to it being owned by Boohoo, Coast is now the sister brand to Boohoo, BoohooMAN, Burton, 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.
Coast can now be considered a fast fashion brand due to adopting the business model of Boohoo Group, indicated by 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: 27/100
Good On You Sustainability Rating: N/A
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: 13/150
Additional Reasons Why Coast 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:
- Despite limiting their clothing styles counter to ‘500+’ when shopping on the Coast website, when I looked at the Coast site in October 2022, I found them selling 5,356 styles of clothing, and 2,533 items in the sale. 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 Coast for as little as £5. 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.
- Coast has a “sustainable collection” called Ready For Future (the same name that Boohoo uses), although it’s unclear if these also follow Boohoo’s Ready For The Future guidelines, 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.
- At the same time, Boohoo Group is currently being investigated by the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority for greenwashing.
- As Coast is now part of Boohoo, it’s worth noting Good On You’s findings on Boohoo, such as: “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 their 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 Coast, 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 2020, one year after purchasing Coast, Boohoo Group reportedly paid subcontracted staff illegally low wages, as little as £3.50 per hour in UK factories.
- On its corporate website, Boohoo Group 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.
Sustainable Alternatives To Coast
If you’re looking to stop shopping at Coast, I recommend checking out brands with similar styles and better ethical and sustainable credentials such as Before July*, Kotn*, People Tree*, Ninety Percent*, Rakha, and Veronika Guardi.
You could also check out my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands to find more, or consider searching for second-hand Coast 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.