Is Nasty Gal Ethical and Sustainable?

It all started when Sophia Amoruso sold vintage clothing as Nasty Gal - but how ethical is it in 2021?

Last Updated on September 18, 2021

Back in 2006, Sophia Amoruso founded Nasty Gal and the brand specialised in vintage clothing – but how sustainable is Nasty Gal now and does it use ethical practises?

Amoruso launched the brand from her bedroom in San Francisco 15 years ago, unwittingly launching a fashion empire which was eventually made into a Netflix show.

Nasty Gal was named Fastest Growing Retailer in 2012 by INC Magazine, but unfortunately the brand filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and was bought by fast fashion group Boohoo the following year.

Here, we take a look at the brand’s practises today.

Is Nasty Gal ethical?

Nasty Gal is owned by Boohoo Group PLC, which was accused of modern slavery in July 2020. An investigation by The Sunday Times discovered that the company were paying their garment workers an hourly wage of £3.50 at a factory in Leicester – much lower than the minimum wage of £8.72 for those over 25.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading all over the world at the time, workers’ rights group Labour Behind the Label found that staff were also being ‘forced to come into work while sick’ with the virus. Unsurprisingly, this was later linked to an increase in cases in the city.

According to Good On You, some of Nasty Gal’s supply chain is certified by Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit – SMETA Best Practice Guidance in the final stage of production.

Unfortunately it scored an appalling 0-10% in the Fashion Transparency Index. We couldn’t find any information about the brand’s supplier policies and audits on its website, and it doesn’t disclose any information about the practises it puts in place to ensure gender equality and regarding forced labour and freedom of association. There’s also absolutely no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

The fast-fashion brand also fail to disclose any policies it has in place to protect suppliers and garment workers in its supply chain from COVID-19 and the financial impact it may have.

READ MORE: How ethical is ASOS?

Is Nasty Gal sustainable?

Nasty Gal doesn’t use eco-friendly materials, nor has it made much effort to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals or water in its supply chain.

While it does report greenhouse gas emissions from their direct operation, it doesn’t bother when it comes to its supply chain.

Nasty Gal does offer a sustainable shop containing 40 items, but it’s unclear how this is sustainable. As the site’s new in section contains over 500 items, it’s clear where the brand’s priorities lie.

The brand also released a sustainable collection in partnership with stylist and model Jen Ceballos of Endlessly Love Club in June 2021. The limited-edition collection consisted of clothing made with recycled fabrics, organic cotton, and reworked vintage pieces.

While there is no news on similar collections, the brand’s commercial director Kelly Byrne shared in the Glossy Podcast that Nasty Gal is looking to close the financial year with 20% of its inventory consisting of sustainable products. Byrne also said that the brand hopes to increase that to 40% by next year.

Nasty Gal Animal Welfare Policy

Nasty Gal doesn’t have a sustainability, labour rights of animal welfare policy on its website.

However Good On You report that while the brand claims to use no animal products, it doesn’t call themselves vegan either so it’s unclear.

READ MORE: Is Zara ethical?

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Is Nasty Gal fast fashion?

In short, yes.

Nasty Gal relies on a quick turnaround of designs, from the moment a garment is seen on a catwalk or celebrity, to when a garment is released for sale on its website. At the time of writing, it had over 500 new garments listed on its website.

Fast fashion can never be sustainable as it encourages consumers to buy an item to wear just a few times and then dispose of it. This may be donating to charity or literally throwing it in the bin, but the majority of the time it ends up in landfill.

Read more about fast fashion here, or if you’re thinking of shopping more sustainably, read more about sustainable fashion here.

For a list of fast fashion brands, see more here and we also recommend reading our list of anti-fast fashion brands too.

Wear Next Opinion

Wear Next believes it’s important to highlight the negative and unjust practises taking place in the fashion industry. We believe ethics and sustainability are an important talking point to bring about change and we encourage you to contact fashion brands to demand this.

However we understand that sustainable fashion isn’t accessible for every body due to various factors, such as budget and the ability to find confidence-boosting clothes that fit. We will continue to offer you fashion inspiration and guidance to suit every body and budget, while also highlighting the unjust systems at play in the fashion industry.

Would you still shop at Nasty Gal? Let us know in the comments below.

Slow Fashion Brands

In the past sustainable fashion was synonymous with bamboo, beige and basic garments, but recently slow fashion has started to change.

There are plenty of exciting small fashion brands that don’t compromise on style. If you’re looking for an alternative to Nasty Gal, we recommend checking out these made to order fashion brands and this selection of anti-fast fashion brands, which are creative, unique, colourful and stylish.

We also recommend shopping vintage as an alternative to fast fashion. We search the virtual vintage racks every week to bring you exciting retro pieces you can buy instead of fast fashion, while we’ve put together a list of online vintage shops to check out now here.