Is Aritzia Actually Sustainable, or Are We Being Greenwashed?

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Jun. 15 2021, Published 1:43 p.m. ET

Most city-dwelling women are familiar with Aritzia — the chic, mid-priced clothing company, which is based in Vancouver, B.C. offers a wide variety of minimalist and gorgeous feminine pieces. And although the company gives off an air of sustainability through various marketing tactics, some of us cynics can't help but wonder if Aritzia is actually sustainable, or if we're just being greenwashed into thinking so.

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We're doing a deep dive into the widely beloved fashion boutique to determine if it delivers in the sustainability department, or if we're really just supporting fast fashion.

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Is Aritzia sustainable?

Aritzia has a full sustainability page on its website which details its sustainability initiatives since 2010. It's banned fur (not including down or wool), joined the Sustainable Apparel Collection, conducted a "materiality assessment," joined the Better Cotton Initiative, partnered with the Better Work program, became a member of the Textile Exchange, and achieved carbon neutrality. The site notes it's also taking measures to decrease water usage and adopt more sustainable materials.

With all that in mind, though, it still may not be constituted as sustainable — in fact, Good On You gave the company a "not good enough" rating in the sustainability department, noting although Aritzia uses environmentally-friendly materials like Tencel, it doesn't elaborate on actions to eliminate harmful chemicals, or initiatives to limit fabric waste. And although Aritzia claims to be "carbon neutral," per Good On You, its technique of offsetting emissions is effectively useless. It also makes no efforts to reduce emissions in its supply chains.

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Meanwhile, although the brand reiterates its message to "minimize animal suffering," as per Good On You, it has no formal policy to do so. And despite the fact it uses no fur, it still uses wool, leather, animal hair, and down. And because it doesn't elaborate on animal products used during the first stage of production, animal welfare is not really addressed during the manufacturing process at all.

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Is Aritzia ethical?

Aritzia's site also has a Social Responsibility tab, which discusses how it works with "best-in-class factories and mills" which are assessed with the UN's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. Supposedly, employees rate the environment with score cards, and each factory is assessed before it's brought on-board. Once the factory is onboarded, it's also held to a Code of Conduct. The company is also part of the ILO-IFC Better Work Program, which shows its dedication to safe working conditions.

Although these points sound relatively promising, critics like Sarah Fallavollita of the blog Times New Woven aren't amused. Fallavollita notes the page's information wasn't up-to-date, and that its claims were baseless. Aritzia made no point to elaborate on its quality assurance program that supposedly conducts factory audits, and doesn't mention all of the cities it actually manufactures in. It also sources from many countries that use child labor and pay its employees unlivable wages.

While Aritzia may be better than some fast fashion companies, it doesn't seem as though the company is totally transparent with sustainability and ethical practices — that said, it's crucial to stay informed on whom you're buying from.

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