It’s great to read a blog that focuses on the ethical nature of retail brands as I feel it’s not talked about enough.
I don’t have much confidence that New Look are that ethical considering the price of their items and their profit margin must not be that big, so can they financially afford to be ethical? I’m really into sustainable fashion at the moment, where I refrain from shopping on the high street and shop second hand and vintage instead. The cotton industry by some brands is terrible to the environment so I’m doing my bit to help reduce my consumption of it.
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At the request of my readers, I’m back today to look into New Look as part of my ethical fashion brand series, to see whether they’re an ethical company. If you haven’t already, make sure to read my previous posts on Primark and H&M (I’ve heard they’re good reads 😉).
New Look haven’t had the best year, 2018 has seen store closures across the country after going into a form of bankruptcy (we’ve had 2 local stores shut down, one of which was only open for a year!), Channel 4’s Dispatches exposed one of their British factories for paying their workers £3 an hour (which is less than half of the minimum wage) and the media has been all over them for slashing the prices of all of their clothes to less than £20 in a bid to bring back some business – some say coming at a cost to those creating their products and others, hitting the margins of New Look themselves.
So let’s get to it! Are New Look an ethical company? Let’s find out…
How they treat the environment when sourcing their raw materials e.g. cotton, silk. And how the factories that make the materials treat the environment around them
We’re piloting an environmental scorecard. The scorecard allows us to understand the main environmental impacts of our supply chain and gives participating factories the data they need to become more efficient.
The scorecard is a series of questions about how suppliers manage their environmental impacts. It asks questions about how much fuel, materials, water and chemicals are consumed at each factory. We’ve scored twenty factories already, and we’re continuing to roll the scorecard out across Asia.
It sounds like New Look are making some progress in their mission to improving the environment of where their garments are made, I especially liked their scorecard system, although I think they could be doing more (like most brands). I’ll give them a thumbs up for this point as they’re doing something, rather than nothing at all.
How the factories that produce the garments treat their workers;
Keeping workers safe and improving the quality of their jobs is one of our main ethical objectives. In 2012 we worked with more than 200 factories employing 143,000 workers to make this a reality.
There wasn’t too much available on their Wages & Working conditions page other than a list of old accomplishments dating back to 2005 which was something of nothing. However after some more digging on their Transparency page, they open up a bit more about how they’re visiting factories to ensure they’re meeting New Look’s ethical standards;
Carrying out regular inspections by our own staff or by an independent third party is one of the main ways we can do this. By talking to factory managers and workers we can understand what challenges our factories face in delivering quality jobs and meeting New Look’s Ethical Aims (based on the ETI Base Code). We can then help them improve.
In addition to regular inspections carried out by independent parties, our own team has visited over 500 factories since 2011. From these visits we have found that the most common issues in many of the countries and factories that we source from are to do with health and safety, working hours and wages.
Based on this and some of the press they’ve received of late, I’m going to give this a half thumbs up.
How animals are treated in the production of their clothing;
We don’t believe it’s ever acceptable to harm animals in the manufacturing or testing of products and we think having excellent standards of animal welfare should go hand in hand with creating amazing fashion.
We’ve developed an animal welfare policy to cover all the products we sell so that our customers can get the look of fur, leather, exotics, suede, wool or silk without any harm to animals.
This was by far the most comprehensive list I could find on the New Look website, their Animal Welfare policy covered all of the bases, no fur, no testing on animals for cosmetic products, certain types of leather – you’ve got everything here. I’d give New Look a big thumbs up for their animal welfare policy!
How they dispose of their waste
We want our customers to understand and embrace more eco-friendly ways to care for their clothes. To do so, we’ve introduced the Clevercare symbol on New Look clothes as a way for our customers to find out more about how they can implement a set of simple actions to improve their impact on the environment when caring for their clothes, such as lowering the washing machine temperature. Small collective actions like this can lead to significant water and energy savings.
Something a bit different to the other companies I’ve looked into, New Look are encouraging their customers to look after their clothes in a more environmentally friendly way to reduce their carbon footprint, but aren’t too specific about what they are doing in house or store to be more environmentally friendly. They’re no where near H&M who seem to be leading the way for the environment, so I’m going to give them a half thumbs up.
Are New Look Environmentally Friendly?
New Look get a 3/4 which isn’t a terrible score, although I’d like to see them making more steps to ensure their factory workers (especially in their homeland of the U.K.) being paid a fair wage.
Were you surprised by the outcome of this post? Let me know in the comments below and if you’ve got any other companies you’d like me to investigate. Also make sure to share this post if you enjoyed it!
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