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07th Sep 2022

Here’s why people aren’t buying Kourtney Kardashian’s collaboration with Boohoo

Sarah McKenna Barry

Can fast fashion ever be sustainable?

Earlier this week, Boohoo announced Kourtney Kardashian as their new ambassador and collaborator.

The reality star will soon release a 45-piece capture collection that she hopes will help consumers make informed choices about fashion, particularly when it comes to sustainability. As well as the line, Kourtney will be creating a social content series in which she’ll get a better understanding of worker welfare, human rights, textile waste, upcycling, resale and vintage fashion.

Kourtney said yesterday that she initially had concerns about the collaboration given fast fashion’s track record, but said that when Boohoo told her they’d “incorporate more sustainable practices” into the line, she changed her mind.

Yesterday, she said: “There’s still lots of work to be done and improvements to be made, but I truly believe that any progress we can make when it comes to sustainability is a step in the right direction and will open up the conversation for future advancements.”

Shortly after news of the collaboration broke, many took issue with the deal. The brand, in particular, was hit with accusations of “greenwashing”, which is the term used to describe the ways in which a company emphasises sustainability in their marketing campaigns, despite less environmental practices in their lines of production. Fashion companies often face greenwashing accusations, due to their reputation for overconsumption, waste of materials and unethical labour practices.

In Boohoo’s case, they were listed as one of the “least sustainable fashion brands” in 2019 by a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee. Additionally, in 2017, Channel 4’s Dispatches found that some of the Leicester factories that were supplying Boohoo were paying garment workers below the minimum wage. Boohoo Group said that this work had been subcontracted without their knowledge.

Climate change advocates have long criticised fast fashion companies for claiming to be sustainable without acknowledging the damage that the industry has already done. A common refrain is that no fast fashion company can ever really become sustainable without a radical overhaul of the entire industry. The very nature of fast fashion is that it’s unsustainable, regardless of the direction of a marketing campaign.

The optics of the campaign has also not been sitting well with fans. In 2020, Boohoo Group had a revenue of $1.235 billion, while Kourtney Kardashian is a multi-millionaire. Climate change, meanwhile, is inextricably linked to poverty. The people in the world who are most affected by climate change are the people who contribute to it the least. With this in mind, it’s a little incredulous to believe the message of sustainability spread by fast fashion retailers and Kourtney Kardashian.