Sustainable or Greenwashed? Eco-Activists on Kourtney Kardashian’s Collaboration with Boohoo
Kourtney Kardashian for Boohoo
The heat is rising for Kourtney Kardashian, as criticism of her current and upcoming collaborations with Boohoo and her appointment as the brand’s ‘sustainability ambassador’ refuses to slow down – and key environmental players including Livia Firth aren’t pulling any punches.
Firth, a long-time critic of fast fashion and greenwashing through her organization Eco-Age and Vogue Arabia’s sustainability editor, didn’t hold back in an Instagram post, highlighting the problems with raising awareness of the damage fast fashion does, while still promoting and producing it.
“Any ambassador, whether a Kardashian or other, should only promote these brands if they commit to change the business model, slow down production, pay their workers more, and use sustainable materials,” Firth exclusively told Vogue Arabia. “It’s that simple. Anything else is just a lazy attitude that creates more harm than not. Kourtney has a huge platform and if she promotes greenwashing, instead of educating young people on what sustainability really is, she is just giving them permission to shop more and more and more.”
UK-based online retailer Boohoo has repeatedly come under fire for its working practices, including accusations of unfair and unsafe working conditions and making misleading claims of sustainability.
“Fast fashion is a business model that would never be sustainable, it is predicated on the simple formula of producing millions of clothes and selling them at very cheap prices, so people use them short term, dispose quickly and start again,” explains Firth. “And this formula is only made possible by using slave labor. So fast fashion equals environmental destruction and social exploitation. No matter how many ‘sustainable’ capsule collections they produce, the above formula stays intact.”
On the day her first collection launched at New York Fashion Week earlier this week, Kardashian hit back at critics of her new role in an Instagram post, saying: “I knew it would get backlash,” stating that fast fashion retailer Boohoo and sustainability “just don’t go hand in hand.”
“I went back and forth about doing this collection with Boohoo because the first thing I think about when I hear the words ‘fast fashion’ is that it’s bad for our planet,” explained the Poosh lifestyle website founder and entrepreneur. “I thought about the attention this collaboration would bring to people who may otherwise have no idea about the impacts of fast fashion on our planet. I thought about how pushing Boohoo to make some initial changes and then holding them accountable to larger change would be impactful.”
But her statements have been met with cynicism, as social media users and sustainability champions alike accuse Boohoo and Kardashian of ‘greenwashing’ – paying lip service to reducing environmental impact and using it to promote their products without intending to make any real changes to their business model. Environmental group A Plastic Planet said that the Boohoo/Kardashian partnership had “taken greenwashing to the next level”, while garment workers’ rights organization Labour Behind The Label had just one word for the collaboration’s announcement: “Urg.”
Outside of her partnership with Boohoo, Kardashian has also faced recent criticism for her family’s jet-setting lifestyle as well as her property’s excessive consumption of water during California’s recent droughts. Only time will tell whether her new sustainability role will help her to understand the impact of fashion as well as other lifestyle factors on our planet.
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