Fashion

No, Kourtney Kardashian, Your Collection With Boohoo Isn’t “Sustainable”, It’s A Disgrace To Ethical Fashion

Greenwashing is the new black.

By Ava Gilchrist
Surely we're getting Krissed?
Earlier this month, fast fashion conglomerate Boohoo announced that Kourtney Kardashian Barker, member of the polluter elite and notorious water waster, had joined the fashion aggregator as the brand's first-ever sustainability ambassador.
Immediate backlash to the appointment was swift and ruthless, with Boohoo historically being one of the most environmentally harmful fashion companies on the planet, and Kardashian not exactly known for her sustainable fashion cred.
"A private-jetting Kardashian worth $65 million is now 'sustainability ambassador' for fossil fuel fashion brand boohoo, where she'll chat 'with sustainability experts to better understand challenges and opportunities in the fashion industry.' We absolutely KANNOT," wrote fair fashion advocate Venetia La Manna.
La Manna was one of thousands of voices outraged by the collaboration, and you can see why.
The partnership—which involves a Kardashian-led content series talking to 'industry experts', as well as the introduction of two 'sustainable collections'—appears to be little more than greenwashing for a company that has found itself on the wrong side of moving societal values.
Boohoo is claiming that the partnerships will "inspire positive change towards a more sustainable future of fashion"—by the not-so-green practice of releasing yet more clothes that could very well find themselves in landfill in the coming months.
The first collection was a 45-part line comprised partly from recycled polyester—a fabric renowned in the industry for being the poster child of greenwashing due to its non-biodegradable "fibrous microplastics" byproduct.
"When Boohoo first approached me to collaborate on a line, I was concerned about the effects of the fast-fashion industry on our planet," Kardashian said when the partnership was announced.
"Boohoo responded with excitement and a desire to incorporate sustainable practices into our line. It's been an enlightening experience speaking directly with industry experts.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to use my platform to drive conversations that lead to ongoing change and use my voice to share actionable tips with consumers on how we can play our own part.
"There's still lots of work to be done and improvements to be made, but I truly believe that any progress we can make when it comes to sustainability is a step in the right direction and will open up the conversation for future advancements."
The appointment of Kardashian is perplexing at first.
Why would this reality star and businesswoman with no track record of supporting the circular fashion moment be of any relevance to Boohoo?
But that's exactly the point. She's lending her clout to a calculated effort by Boohoo to clean up its image. And the cracks are showing.

Kourtney Kardashian’s History Of Partnering With Problematic Brands

First of all, her history.
The eldest in the infamously environmentally unfriendly Kardashian-Jenner family was revealed to have reportedly exceeded her monthly water allowance by over 101,000 gallons while her home-state of California experienced its worst ever recorded drought in history. Eco warrior, she is not.

If Kardashian has such a "passion to improve the sustainability of the fashion sector", as Boohoo groups co founder and executive director, Carol Kane, describes, then why has it taken a lucrative brand deal for the 43-year-old to speak out?
And what qualifications does she hold to be the flag bearer for Boohoo's sustainable future?
For a reality star who has collaborated with fast fashion brands previously, including Pretty Little Thing (which is owned by the Boohoo group) and would be well aware of the amount of textile waste these companies contribute annually, why would she feel a need to partner with a brand altogether to raise awareness for the benefits of sustainable fashion, if it wasn't for financial gain?
Surely, if Kourtney was truly a slow fashion advocate, would we not have heard about this previously during her 15-year-long tenure on television?
After all, wouldn't a picture of Kourtney single handedly removing clothing from her fashion collections from landfill make for great entertainment?
Kourtney's lifestyle and wellness platform Poosh also does little to highlight her passion about the environment.
You'd think that someone with an editorial platform at her disposal and a supposed interest in saving the planet and educating on the detrimental impact the fashion industry could have would you know… at least have written a story about it.
So, for someone who is so allegedly passionate about using her platform to raise awareness about sustainability and the impact of textile waste on the environment, why did the private-plane flying Kardashian partner with Boohoo in the first place?
As history has proven, she's no stranger to partnering with controversial brands.
Kourtney's wedding to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker might as well have been an ad for Dolce & Gabbana, a brand mired in controversy following its founder's homophobic and racist remarks. (They have since apologised.)
Perhaps what Kourtney is showing us again and again is that there is no amount of public scrutiny or problematic behaviours that can stop her from earning a profit.
Sure, it's easy to label Kardashian as green. But it's not the green of the planet she cares about, rather that green from the Benjamins her contentious brand deals have generated.

Boohoo’s History Of Unethical And Unsustainable Practices

In 2020, sustainable and ethical fashion watchdog Good On You rated Boohoo's environmental and sustainable efforts in the lowest possible percentile.
"It does not use eco-friendly materials. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals. There is no evidence it implements water reduction initiatives," Good On You claimed.
"It publishes zero or very limited information about its supplier policies and audits. It does not disclose any information about forced labour, gender equality or freedom of association. There is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain."
It's reasonable to give Boohoo some benefit of the doubt here. Since that report, they have implemented an 'agenda for change program' which has achieved 28 of 34 recommended deliverables from an independent review into making its supply chain more sustainable.
In a report published earlier this year, Boohoo claims their sustainable goals are threefold: clothes made smarter, the business taking action and suppliers on better terms.
Another report cites that "more sustainably sourced materials is a top priority", with their allegedly ambitious goals including "all the materials used for garments more sustainable by 2030".
But there can not be sustainability without transparency, and thus far Boohoo have done nothing to illuminate the exact practices they will be implementing to make their garments "more sustainable" nor how they are measuring this innately intangible and non quantifiable goal.
Unfortunately, their claims that "all our polyester and cotton will be recycled or more sustainable by 2025" and "all customer garment packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2023" is the minimum requirements for a brand that doesn't even disclose how many garments they produce annually. (For the record, it's about 116 pieces per day, according to a 2020 report in VICE UK.)
To truly be sustainable, complete transparency needs to exist into the making of the garment in every step of production.

Boohoo has come far since its allegations of poor working conditions and underpaying staff, however until every single component of their production is documented, recorded, published and readily accessible, the brand's reputation will be unable to be rehabilitated.
The collaboration is trying to pull the wool over our eyes, using excessively obscure environmental jargon to intentionally misguide consumers. If the collaboration is sustainable, then why haven't Boohoo explicitly published how their clothes are made, where the materials come from, how much their workers are paid and whether their practices are ethical to both the people and the planet?
Kardashian admitted that she knew Boohoo's reputation when she decided to join the brand as an ambassador. Too often has Kardashian subscribed herself to become the face of a brand who needs their reputation cleaned up in the public eye.
"Boohoo approached me to be a sustainability ambassador and though I knew it would get backlash because the two just don't go hand in hand, I thought about the fact that fast fashion, or the fashion industry in general, isn't going anywhere,", she wrote on social media.
Which is exactly the problem with the collaboration. We have the power to shape the face of the fast fashion industry. We saw that with Misguided's collapse earlier this year.
In this capitalistic society, consumers have more power than ever to hold brands accountable for their actions.
With increased education and awareness about the harm of textile waste and the benefits of a circular fashion economy, it is possible for fast fashion to slow down. But does Kourtney Kardashian have to release a collection of unethical clothes to do so?
Boohoo espouses this greenwashing jargon at the same time they charge £1 ($1.71 AUD) for next day delivery, or £10 ($17 AUD) for leggings made entirely from virgin plastic.
If hypocrisy and false pretences is the future of the fast fashion industry, then perhaps it's in safe hands with Boohoo and Kardashian.
What Boohoo and Kardashian is doing isn't just greenwashing, it's a disgrace to everything that the ethical and slow fashion movements stand for.
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  • undefined: Ava Gilchrist