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Is New Look Ethical and Sustainable?

It's been a go-to for many for decades — but is it an ethical brand?

New Look has been a go-to fashion brand for many since it was founded in 1969.

Whether it’s a party or coffee run, you’re bound to find something to pick up and wear when you visit one of their 519 branches or their online store. 

Lucy Mecklenburgh for new look
New Look

But since we’re faced with the reality of climate change and unjust working conditions all over the world, we can’t help but ask: is this brand ethical and sustainable? 

Here, we investigate.

READ MORE: Is Primark ethical and sustainable?

Is New Look sustainable?

On the New Look website, the brand is proud to share that they have ‘800 new products uploaded online every week’. It’s also not afraid to claim that they’ve ‘grown to become a leading fast-fashion brand in the UK and Ireland’. 

This alone can tell you that the answer is no. Its products also use very few eco-friendly materials

In New Look’s sustainability report for 2022, they admit that in 2018, only 2% of their garments had sustainable attributes. In 2022, this has increased to 52%.

They have a goal to use 100% sustainable cotton by the end of this year, 100% sustainable viscose by 2023 and 50% recycled synthetics by 2024.

When it comes to their packaging, they’re aiming to use 100% sustainably sourced or recycled content by FY23.

New Look’s huge goal is to be climate-positive by 2040.

They also have a policy that prevents deforestation in its supply chain approved by CanopyStyle, but there’s no proof that this effort reduces their carbon footprint. 

Read New Look’s sustainability policy here.

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Is New Look ethical?

In 2019, New Look received a score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index and this has increased to 61-70% in 2022 – a significant improvement.

The brand has been issuing an annual statement about modern slavery since 2017. In it, the brand shares its commitment to ‘respecting and improving the lives of its employees and the people who work in its supply chain.’

The 2021 statement also shows its supply chain model and policies — which include a mention of their Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Policy enacted in 2016 and Whistleblowing Policy. 

The brand is also open and transparent with information about its suppliers, like imploring them to ban Uzbek and Turkmen cotton and commit to ‘child labour procedures.’

While these are good-intentioned, there is no way for the public to know and check whether the brand really provides its employees with livable wages and good working conditions.

Read New Look’s ethical trading policy here.

READ MORE: Is SHEIN ethical and sustainable?

New Look’s Animal Welfare Policy

The brand has an animal welfare policy based on the recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health and is vocal about testing against animals.

It also partnered with The Vegan Society in launching its range of vegan shoes, bags, and accessories. It also claims that 70% of the shoes it offers are vegan.

However, it continues to use leather, exotic animal hair, down and wool from non-mulesed sheep in its other products.

It seems like New Look is having a hard time keeping up with today’s consumption standards, but it’s trying.

Read New Look’s animal welfare policy here.

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.

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