Boohoo CEO insists retailer does not make ‘throwaway’ clothing

Boohoo CEO insists retailer does not make ‘throwaway’ clothing
The fast fashion brand has pledged to make 20 per cent of its autumn range sustainable

O chief executive of fast fashion company Boohoo has insisted that its brands, which list thousands of items including tops as cheap as £2 apiece, do not make “throwaway” pieces.

In an appearance on Rádio BBC 5 Live’s “Wake Up to Money” podcast na quinta feira, CEO John Lyttle said the retailer’s data does not suggest that their average customer is buying items to only wear once.

“I look across all of our brands and I look at the number of items and the average number of times a year that somebody buys, we don’t see that as a throwaway.

“Sometimes fast fashion is seen as an ‘I buy it, I wear it once and then I throw it away’. Certamente, from the data that we have, we wouldn’t correlate with that," ele disse.

Aside from its namesake brands, Boohoo and BoohooMan, it also owns PrettyLittlething, NastyGal, MissPap, Coast, Karen Millen, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse, Oasis, Wallis, Burton and Debenhams.

Boohoo has faced crítica from worker’s rights groups that raise concerns about poor working conditions and pay, while environmental organisations have warned more widely of the fast-fashion industry’s contribution to the climate crisis.

Lyttle said the retailer has outlined a “clear strategy” to become more sustainable.

“20 per cent of all our ranges will be sustainable this autumn… 40 per cent next spring/summer," ele disse.

“I think we’re adapting because we’re becoming more educated about the impact of some of these items.

“As a business it’s for us to adapt and make sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to make that the best product for the consumer, but equally to think about the life cycle of that product as well," ele adicionou.

Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of unions working to improve labour conditions in the garment industry, has rebuked Lyttle’s pledge, arguing that fast fashion is “inherently unsustainable”.

“Of course people need clothes, but not the enormous amounts that companies such as Boohoo are currently producing; polluting waterways, sending CO2 in the air and keeping workers in perpetual poverty in the process,” Christie Miedema, campaign and outreach coordinator for the organisation, contado O Independente.

“Aligning 20 per cent of that production with a business definition of ‘sustainability’ isn’t going to make a difference. Actual systemic changes are needed.”

Laura Young, an environmental scientist who campaigns against waste, contado Rádio BBC 5 Live that a key issue with Lyttle’s statement is that there is no industry-wide agreement on what is “sustainable”.

“There isn’t a sort of standard that Boohoo needs to meet for that. So when they talk about being 20, 30 ou 40 per cent more sustainable, what does that mean to them, to their workers and what does that mean to the environment," ela disse.

“They haven’t said in detailed steps what they are going to do, so until then it’s just another fancy word they are using to deflect away from the real problem, which is this increasingly rapid scale at which they are producing.”

This need for transparency was also highlighted by Miedema. “As long as Boohoo remains untransparent about its supply chain, it can make every promise in the world without anyone being able to check. Without supply chain transparency, its promises are just empty words," ela disse.

In June 2020, an investigation by The Sunday Times found that a factory in Leicester producing Boohoo confecções had continued to operate during lockdown without social distancing measures in place.

Além disso, an undercover reporter who worked at the factory for two days was told they would be paid just £3.50 an hour. The UK living wage for people aged 25 and over is £8.72.

In its response, Boohoo said the conditions at the factory, Jaswal Fashions, were “totally unacceptable and fall woefully short of any standards acceptable in any workplace”.

“Our investigations have shown that Jaswal Fashions is not a declared supplier, and is no longer trading as a garment manufacturer.

“It therefore appears that a different company is using Jaswal’s former premises and we are currently trying to establish the identity of this company. We are taking immediate action to thoroughly investigate how our garments were in their hands, and we will ensure that our suppliers immediately cease working with this company,”Acrescentou.

O Independente has contacted Boohoo for comment.

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