In this article, Cheyanne Greig-Andrews explores the recent outcry over allegations against Boohoo and the public’s growing distaste of fast fashion.
More and more frequently the public has been shining a spotlight on the garment industry’s questionable manufacturing practices. From wasteful surplus stock and poor environmental policies to unjust labour conditions and low wages, the message is clear that consumers want ethical clothing.
The clothing company Boohoo Group plc has been the recent target of scrutiny online and in the media. Boohoo is a UK-based online fashion retailer and also owns PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, and MissPap. The public outcry against Boohoo is based on allegations of illegal manufacturing practices.
The allegations began in 2018 when Sarah O’Conner investigated the garment industry in Leicester, UK. she discovered a hidden garment industry where employees were being paid far below the legal minimum wage. However, only recently has the #boycottboohoo taken off on social media. The outcry seems to be gaining traction by the day.
The allegations against Boohoo claims that their supplier factory in Leicester had employees earning as little as £3.50 per hour. This is far below the UK required minimum wage which is currently £8.21 per hour. Boohoo’s target demographic is 16- to 30-year-olds. With hundreds of posts on Instagram by people within that demographic demanding a Boohoo boycott, it is evidently a concern for the company’s longevity.
According to Jane Denton for Thisismoney, Boohoo denies the allegations and claims that the supplier in question was no longer trading as a garment maker for Boohoo. However, in the underground garment industry in Leicester discovered by Sarah O’Conner, it is clear that these factories are likely not registered legally as it is.
Many companies have made adjustments to improve manufacturing practices. This is largely due to the pressure placed on them after being publicly exposed. Public scrutiny usually revolves around unethical working conditions, typically in overseas factories. Nike, Primark, and Apple are just a few corporations that have been criticized in recent years and managed to appease concerns to some degree.
Big business is driven by profit. Reducing their bottom line is naturally the number one priority. Fast fashion perpetuates this system and companies trying to keep up with demand will cut costs anywhere possible. New trends are coming out faster than we can keep track and demand for quick, cheap, and frankly, disposable clothing is never-ending.
Consumerism is still the norm in society. Many are not willing to sacrifice their quick, cheap jeans for slow, ethical fashion. However, this norm is certainly shifting rapidly. The call to boycott Boohoo aims to send a message that unjust labour practices and the unsustainability of fast fashion need to change. Regardless of the criminality of Boohoo’s practices, the message is clear, fast fashion is slowly dying out and sustainability is becoming more stylish than ever.