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13 August 2021

Boohoo Responds in Fast Fashion Debate

With the climate change debate intensifying in recent weeks amid a backdrop of wildfires and climate warnings, UK fashion label Boohoo has moved to distance itself from the “fast fashion” business model.

This week, the Manchester-based label released its Economic Impact report for 2021. The online retailer, which has plans to create 5,000 new jobs off the back of an investment programme worth over £500m across the UK over the next five years. The firm has been on an upward trajectory since launching in 2006 as a single brand, now boasting 13 international labels.

Despite the company’s rosy economic picture, the firm has faced criticism as being part of a fast fashion revolution. In 2020, Boohoo was named as one of the least sustainable fashion brands in the UK in a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

The report formed part of the government’s inquiry into the fast fashion business model – the rapid production and sale of popular and affordable clothing which consumers will often wear just a handful of times before discarding.

A host of the UK’s most popular labels, including Boohoo, Missguided, Amazon and Sports Direct, were among those which hadn’t signed up to targets set of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) to reduce their carbon, water and waste footprints. For context, more than 20,000 litres of water can be needed to make one pair of jeans and one t-shirt.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up to Money podcast, Boohoo CEO John Lyttle said that the firm has a “clear strategy” for becoming more sustainable, insisting that its clothing brands are “not throwaway.”

Boohoo currently has its own target of making 20% of its autumn 2021 ranges sustainable, rising to 40% for its spring/summer 2022 ranges, but the firm has admitted that further goals may take longer to meet, in line with the goals of other industries.

“[The industry’s sustainability issues are] not going to be fixed in six and 12 months,” he said. “It's the same 2030 timeframe as combustible engines.” “We're here because people want to wear clothes, they have to be supplied. We're trying make the journey as sustainable as possible.”

At COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in 2018, fashion industry leaders launched the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. Under the plan, the fashion industry aims to become net-zero in Greenhouse Gas emissions no later than and outlines a target of 30% GHG emission reductions by 2030.

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Boohoo Responds in Fast Fashion Debate
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