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Fast fashion brands called before Parliament

A number of online only fashion retailers have been asked to give evidence as part of the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry.

The chair of the committee has written letters to ASOS, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing, Amazon and Missguided, published today (9 November), to the online only retailers to give information on areas including staff wages, the life-cycle of the garments sold, and steps being taken to reduce the environmental and social impact of their businesses.

The companies have until 15 November to provide their responses and have been invited to give evidence in Parliament.

The committee launched its inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry in June and so far the likes of Marks and Spencer, Primark, Next Retail, Arcadia Group, Asda, Tk Maxx and Debenhams have been asked to give evidence.

On 30 October, the committee said it heard “shocking evidence” that the buying practice of online fashion retailers could be putting British clothing manufacturers in a position where they could only afford to pay garment workers illegally low wages.

Concerns were also raised about the low-quality of some ‘fast fashion’ garments and the excessive waste generated from this business model.

Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP, said: “Our recent evidence hearing raised alarm bells about the fast growing online-only retail sector. Low quality £5 dresses aimed at young people are said to be made by workers on illegally low wages and are discarded almost instantly, causing mountains of non-recycled waste to pile up.

“We will be calling some of these online retailers in front of the committee to answer questions, but in the meantime, my letters encourage them to face up to the social and environmental consequences of their business models. We want to know that they are fully compliant with employment law, that garments have a decent life-span, and that profit is not put before environmental damage. I look forward to the responses.”

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