One of the posts on my site with the highest page views is a review I did about 8 years ago from the brand Pretty Little Thing,(prettylittlething.com) it ranks quite high on google and gets a steady flow of clicks each month. It also really clashes with my blog style and ethics now and I've been ignoring it for a while. I did think about just deleting it. But instead I thought it would be better to put a disclaimer at the top and bottom of this post stating that pretty little thing is not ethical and sustainable and giving people a place to read more about the brand, so that perhaps I can encourage people to learn more about the company before considering buying.

If I can get a few people of the 50 a week that click on it to maybe think about looking into sustainable and ethical fashion, or even just questioning who is making their clothes and whats in them, that's a win. So this page is a resource as to why you probably shouldn't buy from PLT if you care about the environment or people.


Now I've targeted PLT because I have a post about them, but a lot of what I say here could be applied to pretty much any fast fashion brand out there, I'm talking fashion nova, Missguided, Shein, wish, they could all be doing more for both people and the environment.
Lack of Transparency
So I had a look on Pretty Little Thing's website and could see nothing on there that was obvious about their supply chains, nothing about where their clothes were made, whether their workers were treated well or paid well. Even Misguided has pages about their corporate responsibility and how they're trying to change their supply chain (whether I believe them is another matter, but it's a start).

But I'm not gunna just skim, so I checked all their FAQs and random pages in the hope of finding something about their supply chain, even just one measly line about how they're "committed to ending modern day slavery" or something else that looks good but doesn't mean anything and I could not find anything!

This is a real bad sign, without transparency we have no idea what goes on in PLT's supply chains. The people working in these supply chains could be working in modern day slavery, they could be exploited, underpaid, there could be children working in these factories. We just don't know, because there's absolutely nothing about it on their site.

On the Fashion Revolution Transparency index they scored a whole 9%, which I think speaks for itself. They also get the worst scores in almost every category from Ethical Consumer. In 2015 it was found they were paying workers in the UK less than minimum wage, so I dread to think what they're doing abroad. Do better Pretty Little Thing. Who Makes your clothes?

Verdict: Even from you I expected better.

See also: Why do we need a Fashion Revolution?

"Sustainability" 
I was surprised to see PLT has two sustainable initiatives in place, so let's discuss just how sustainable they are.

RaGAINApp
I love the premise of this app, to encourage more people to donate clothes rather than them going straight into landfill! Amazing! However I'm skeptical as usual, first of all the reward for donating clothes is money off brand new clothes from their site which gives the impression of "get rid of clothes just to buy more" which is not a very sustainable mindset.

Secondly I don't see much on ReGAIN's website about where these clothes actually go, they say they're recycled and donated to charity shops but where? Who is recycling them? Into what? Where do they go when they don't get sold? Are they just ending up in landfill somewhere like Ghana after being dumped in a second hand market there? They say they're "closing the loop" on fashion but I really need more information to fully believed that.

Verdict: Good in principle, needs more information.

Recycled Collection
Like many other big brands PLT have bought out their own "sustainable" collection recently with their recycled clothing. Again do I think this is a good thing in principle? Heck yeah. But the key is again in the details.

First of all, almost all of these clothes have polyester in them, even the ones that are cotton. Now there's a debate about whether polyester belongs in clothes even when recycled but basically it ends up in the sea as microfibres when washed, and humans are now eating/drinking a credit card's worth of plastic a week. I'd have less of an issue with them having some recycled polyester if even their cotton pieces weren't 50% plastic but hey ho.

Secondly, these pieces are still about £12 for a dress . You're  seriously trying to tell me these are made sustainably and ethically for £12?! Not possible. And while they may be made of recycled materials are they still going to 8 different countries whilst being manufactured like many other clothes are? Is the whole manufacturing process more sustainable for these pieces? Where is the material recycled from? So many questions.

Third, this is a tiny percentage of their clothing. This one small collection, even if it was completely sustainably and ethically made, wouldn't make up for the rest of the clothes they produce each day. I looked on their "New In Today" tab when first writing this and there were 52 items on there, after a week they had 622 items in that week. That's an average of 96 pieces per day, during a pandemic. This level of consumption is just not sustainable, and is especially awful in the middle of a global pandemic.

Pretty Little Thing you say people can do their "little bit" by shopping your recycled range, well you sure are doing very little. This is honestly below the bare minimum of what they should be doing sustainability wise, and it really looks like these initiatives are there to score green brownie points.

 Verdict: A whole lot of greenwashing here.
Response to COVID-19
Back in late March there were calls to Pretty Little thing to close their Tinsley warehouse after workers were saying they felt unsafe at work. This is not a unique case, workers from ASOS and Amazon have made headlines saying they feel unsafe in warehouses working at the moment.

PLT do have a section on their website about how those at risk are furloughed or working from home will still be being paid and don't have to work and that their warehouse workers are staying 2m apart. But they should all be at home, if my workplace that sells food shut down to protect its workers then a fashion warehouse definitely should. And with workers still in the factory saying they felt unsafe, it's a bad sign.

Fashion is not an essential at the moment and so putting workers at risk for the sake of selling more clothes and making more money is not a responsible approach to the current pandemic.

Instead of furloughing workers and looking after supply chains  they have a "Stay Home" section to sell loungewear to people who are stuck at home... making money off the pandemic! Yay! They're still uploading almost 100 items a day to their site. PLT is owned by a family of billionaires, they could more than afford to close down for a bit to protect staff and also take a long hard look at the way they run things but no... profit is more important right?

Verdict: Profit over saving lives, lovely stuff.
Blackfishing
Much more recently Pretty Little Thing came under fire on twitter for hiring a Swedish model for their site who has a history of blackfishing. I won't name the model because I don't want to give her attention.

If you're not sure what blackfishing is it's basically when white women try to look generally trying to mixed race or like a light skinned black woman by approprating the features, hair, and skin colour or black women without actually experiencing the racism, discrimination and general lived experience of black women White women do this to get clout, and often (like in this case with this PLT model) take jobs and opportunities that should be going to black women. A double slap in the face for black women. This video explains it well.

The story about this particular model's blackfishing isn't small, it comes up when you search for her.  PLT either didn't do their research or knew about it and chose to ignore it while hiring her, she's also modelled for sites like Fashion Nova (another notorious fast fashion site). PLT do better, and hire actual black women for jobs like this rather than white women appropriating black features.

A lot of people were responding to the image on twitter like "This girl is white?" which I think shows the issue.

Verdict: Don't hire models appropriating features of other races.

And that, it pretty much that. I hope you learned something today and began to question where PLT are making their clothes. If you want to help change the future of fashion then feel free to email, tweet, write to PLT and ask them who is making their clothes, how their clothes are made, why they're still currently operating business as usual and why they're hiring white women parading as black women instead of actual black women. Just a thought if you wanted something to do.

I may do this on other brands, I enjoyed making this post and video so if you have any brands you'd like to learn more about then let me know!