Is Edinburgh Woollen Mill A Fast Fashion Brand?

Screenshot of Edinburgh Woollen Mill site

Yes, Edinburgh Woollen Mill is a fast fashion brand.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) is a British fashion retailer, with additional interests in homeware and destination shopping. It was founded in 1946 by white Scottish businessman David Stevenson (worth £50 million). Today it is owned by Purepay Retail Limited, who also owns Bonmarché and Peacocks. The group is part-owned by EWM’s CEO, white British businessman Philip Day (worth £1.1 billion). The business makes £88 million in revenue each year across over 200 locations and 24,000 employees.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill 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: N/A
Good On You Sustainability Rating: N/A
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: 0/150

Additional Reasons Why Edinburgh Woollen Mill Is A Fast Fashion Brand

  • When I looked at the EWM site in November 2022, I found them selling 1,583 womenswear styles, 847 menswear styles, 140 children’s wear styles, and 883 items in the sale. These huge product ranges demonstrate the brand’s fast fashion business model and focus to profit from the overproduction of clothes.
  • I also found clothes being sold by EWM for as little as £3. 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.
  • Troublingly, there is no information about the business’ supply chains, sustainability, or people on EWM’s site.
  • Edinburgh Woollen Mill scored zeroes across the board in Remake’s Fashion Accountability Report 2022. This means shoppers at EWM cannot know who made their clothes, or if they are being treated or paid fairly.
  • According to Remake, in 2022, a court in Bangladesh barred EWM or any of its agents or buying houses from conducting business with the country due to the company’s unfounded evasion of payment to its suppliers during the pandemic.
  • In 2020, EWM stopped paying their garment factories using covid-19 as an excuse. To this day, it has never agreed to pay the money that was owed.
  • In 2013, Peacocks’ sister brand Bonmarché was one of the fashion retailers associated with the Rana Plaza factory collapse. The brand later signed 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.

Sustainable Alternatives To Edinburgh Woollen Mill

If you’re looking to stop shopping at Edinburgh Woollen Mill, I recommend checking out my guide to ethical knitwear or my guide to shopping for knitwear second-hand. You could also check out my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands to find more brands, or consider searching for second-hand EWM 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: November 2022.


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