Fast fashion giant Boohoo has announced that Kourtney Kardashian Barker has been appointed as its new sustainability ambassador.
Kardashian Barker will launch her own collection through the brand. It will have a total of 41 pieces, all made from recycled cotton and recycled polyester.
“When Boohoo first approached me to collaborate on a line, I was concerned about the effects of the fast-fashion industry on our planet,” she said in a statement.
“It’s been an enlightening experience speaking directly with industry experts and I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my platform to drive conversations that lead to ongoing change and use my voice to share actionable tips with consumers on how we can play our own part.”
Kourtney Kardashian Barker speaks out on sustainability
Kardashian regularly speaks about environmental protection on her lifestyle website Poosh. She also shares her eco-leanings via Instagram, where she reposted a Future Earth CO2 tracker earlier this year.
Most recently, she has become the face of vegan chicken brand Daring alongside her plant-based husband Travis Barker. The two took part in a provocative Ellen von Unwerth photoshoot to promote the alt-meat brand.
Though the Kardashian sister states that she isn’t fully vegan, she considers herself “mostly plant-based” and driven by sustainable food choices.
Despite Kardashian Barker’s online popularity, news of her working with Boohoo has garnered mixed reviews. These are due to the fashion retailer’s human rights transgressions and environmental footprint, as well as perceived inconsistencies in the sustainability messaging being personally shared by the influencer.
The problem with fast fashion
Fast fashion refers to cheap clothing that reflects trends seen on catwalks. Seasons are continuous, with thousands of new styles sold every year. Due to cheap production methods, there are usually zero provisions for sustainable processes.
This endless cycle — usually involving non-recyclable and non-recycled fibers — requires vast amounts of energy and water, only for garments to be in vogue for a short period of time. Add in waterways contamination from dyeing procedures and leather tanning, and the environmental impact of the sector is impossible to ignore.
It is thought that the fashion industry contributes at least 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and 20 percent of all wastewater. While brands like Stella McCartney and Ganni have sought to reduce their impact, both fall in higher cost brackets. This leaves consumers with smaller budgets often looking to fast fashion.
Animal welfare is also a major concern in connection to fast fashion. It supports demand for leather and wool garments that need to be made quickly and with no regard for animal wellbeing. As a result, many species are caught and killed in the seasonal crossfire. Wool, in particular, was once thought of as a sustainable, cruelty-free material. It has since been exposed as a harmful sector that many people see as on par with fur production. It also contributes to significant biodiversity loss.
Boohoo is one of the most notorious fast fashion brands in the world. Currently valued at around £3.2 billion, the company drops in the region of 500 new garments each week. It also frequently works with popular celebrities to increase consumer demand.
Following consistent call-outs for its lack of planetary stewardship, Boohoo set sustainability targets in 2021. It also pledged to ditch wool back in 2019, but went back on its promise in the same year.
By the end of 2023, Boohoo has stated that all of its packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. It has also stated that any plastic used will contain a minimum of 50 percent recycled materials.
In the same year, resale and recycling of items will be facilitated. By 2025, no textile waste will be sent to landfill sites within the UK.
The Kardashian Barker launch is intended to shine a light on the newly initiated environmental policies of Boohoo.
Calling out the Kardashians
Following the Boohoo collaboration announcement on social media, users were quick to criticize the deal. They called out the company’s track record of bad worker welfare and enormous textile waste, as well as Kardashian Barker herself.
Fashion activist Aja Barber commented: “Yes let’s keep it real. Have you tried making less stuff? Instead of paying rich people to virtue signal why not just pay super fair wages instead??? That’s something you can do and you don’t even have to give a rich person more money to do it.”
Others drew attention to the apparent irony of a Kardashian promoting sustainable clothing.
Last month, it was reported that Kardashian Barker was guilty of flouting drought rules. She is said to have used more than 101,000 gallons more water than was permitted during extreme weather conditions.
Cost-effective alternatives to fast fashion
Resale and thrifted clothing offer consumers a viable way to reduce their impact while remaining fashionable. Thanks to advances in technology, it has never been easier to source and buy second-hand clothing.
The fashion resale market is growing exponentially, thanks to traditionally expensive brands getting on board. Gucci is one such legacy fashion house, with many more, including Prada, expected to follow suit.
Apps such as Vinted and Depop also offer access to cost-effective pre-worn clothing. Scouring the rails of charity shops and vintage kilo sales also remains a good way to find sustainable pieces.