The sustainable fashion movement has been growing larger in the past decade, with thousands if not millions of eco-conscious shoppers around the world taking this factor into account when buying from certain brands.
This issue is many clothing brands can be considered fast fashion brands, which are usually the most unsustainable brands that you can buy from.
So Does J Crew Fall Into This Category?
Once known as the favorite store of former US First Lady Michelle Obama, J Crew may present a preppy and fun atmosphere, but they’re not above using shady labor and environmental practices in the production of their clothes if it means that they get on the shelves quicker. J Crew then is most definitely a fast-fashion brand.
What Is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is a term used to describe a clothing store that can manufacture and sell fashion styles incredibly quickly.
In the past shops would release new fashions or styles four times a year in line with the seasons, which were known as collections (eg the summer collection).
But now fast fashion companies release new “seasons” every seven days. The designers for the brands will often see what has been popular on the runway, or what a celebrity has recently worn, and will design an almost identical outfit which will then be manufactured and on the shop floor within just a few days.
This constant manufacture of new design styles, along with never-ending sales, has created a “fast-fashion” consumer culture that prioritizes quantity and impulse over quality and intention.
Buyers may think that it’s great that they can wear what the stars have worn as this is what is “trendy”.
But these clothes are usually made out of flimsy and low-quality materials, meaning that they could wear out after just a few wears, so the buyer then has to go out and buy a replacement.
But at some point, we stopped caring about the quality of our clothes, and instead started to only care about the price, so many people are fine with their clothes being poor quality.
Apart from low-quality items being made and sold, there are a lot more issues with fast fashion.
What’s Wrong With Fast Fashion?
Here are the biggest issues with this type of fashion:
- Very poor and exploitative labor conditions – Children’s textile labor, terrible working conditions, and low salaries are examples of exploitive labor practices
- Water use and contamination – So much water is needed in the manufacturing process that it is often taken from the area surrounding the clothes factories, which has been known to cause many droughts. If the water is pumped back out then it is usually filled with chemicals from the factories, making it very dangerous to use and drink
- Textile waste – this is only of the biggest impacts fast fashion has on the environment, as it’s a very wasteful process with almost none of this waste being recycled or reused.
With all that, let’s take a look at how many of these J Crew is guilty of.
Fast Fashion And J Crew
J Crew is very hit and miss on this front. Starting with the good news, J Crew gives unsold merchandise to Good360.org, a non-profit organization that distributes products to community service organizations that help those in need.
This is a great way to lower their textile waste, which helps the environment and lowers their carbon footprint, while also being charitable and helping those in need.
Unfortunately, this is as far as they go when it comes to lowering their environmental impact. The brand’s production process has very few environmental standards in place.
They don’t use eco-friendly materials in their clothing or production line for a start. On top of this J Crew has never said if it has a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, which many companies have in place to try and limit their impacts on the environment.
J Crew also has no policies or initiatives on water usage or wastewater management in their supply chain.
Not having any of these in place can be very damaging to the environment surrounding the factory, as if they’re talking too much from the local area then both people and animals could suffer, especially if doughts are caused.
J Crew is also not taking any major steps in minimizing or stopping the use of hazardous chemicals in their production line.
This impacts the environment as these can leak out of the factory through the water, and can also be very dangerous to the workers in the factory.
Finally, although J Crew does donate their unsold clothes to charity, it has not said how it minimizes textile waste within factories, and it also does not have any good policies in place for the disposal of this and other waste.
All around, J Crew is failing hard on the environmental front, though they may want you to believe that they’re not that bad as they donate a very small amount of their textile waste to charity.
This is another area where J Crew fails. None of thor supply chain is certified by labor standards, which ensures that workers get living wages, have access to health and safety measures, and other labor rights.
It has not published any information about its suppliers or forced labor, gender quality in the workplace, or freedom of association.
While this doesn’t mean that they’re actually doing any of these things, if they had nothing to hide then why not just publish a report on how they treat their workers?
A lot of fast fashion brands use a lack of information to hide their bad practices from the public. But shoppers are beginning to be more aware that usually when a brand does this they have a lot of things to hide, which makes them less trustworthy.
J Crew has received a very low score of 11-20% in the Fashion Transparency Index, which is a tool to push fashion brands to be more transparent about their social and environmental efforts.
J Crew, like so many other brands you can find in your local mall, is a fast fashion brand.
While they have made a few positive changes to change this image, like donating to charity, this does not mean that they are a sustainable brand.
If you want clothes that come from an eco-friendly source then don’t buy from J Crew.