Ethical Fashion: 20 Brands to Avoid

Ethical Fashion: 20 Brands to Avoid

Last week I shared with you a list of brands that are doing a good job in the world of ethical fashion.

But I know that not everyone is at a point where they are ready to fully embrace shopping from ethical brands. I get it. Really I do!

It took me a long time to get to a point where I was ready… and then all of a sudden it just clicked and I knew I wanted to dive in headfirst and think later (sometimes the best decisions are made that way yes?).

So I don’t judge you if you’re not there. NOW, that’s not to say that I don’t want encourage you to take steps towards shopping more ethically.

That’s where today’s post comes in. I thought I would share with you some brands that really aren’t doing all that well.

I figure if you aren’t totally ready to shop from ethical brands, then at least you can have a bit more information on what brands to avoid.

Start with this list, and then maybe just see where it takes you!

So without further ado (brands are listed alphabetically and not by ranking).

  1. Abercrombie and Fitch
  2. Anthropologie
  3. ASOS
  4. Bebe
  5. Forever 21
  6. H&M
  7. Lucky
  8. Missguided
  9. Newlook
  10. Primark
  11. Ripcurl
  12. Romwe
  13. Roxy
  14. SHEIN
  15. Topshop
  16. Uniqlo
  17. Urban Outfitters
  18. Victorias Secret
  19. Zaful
  20. Zara

So why did I pick these brands? Well, let me introduce you to a website that has been super helpful as I dive into ethical fashion: The Good Guide.

They have a list of 182 brands and they rank them based on their environmental and societal impact. All of the brands listed above had a score of less than 5 (on a 1-10 scale).

Check them out because they’ve basically done all of the investigative work for you which makes it super simple.

There are many others that could be added to this list unfortunately, so I chose 20 that I’ve either shopped at or I see when I walk through the mall.

What do you think? Any other brands we should be aware of?

I have a more updated, comprehensive list of ethical brands I DO suggest shopping from. You can find it here.

Until next time,



Hi there! My name is Karin and I am a lifestyle blogger with a focus on mindful style, clean beauty, and joy filled motherhood. I hope you find some inspiration here!

Find me on: Web



  1. March 4, 2016 / 7:14 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve really enjoyed you sharing this information on ethical clothing brands! I’m not ready to take the plunge just yet, but more than half of my wardrobe wasn’t on this list, so I feel hopeful about getting to that point a little quicker.

    Erin |

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:42 pm

      You’re welcome Erin! I’m glad you’ve found them useful! I think you’ll be surprised to find that it’s really not that difficult. It just takes a little bit of a mindset shift!

  2. March 4, 2016 / 10:14 am

    Gah! Anthro and Madewell made the list! I guess I will be naked from here on out 🙂

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:43 pm

      I know Linda!! They’re my favorites too. 🙁 The nice thing is that you can consign those brands pretty easy!

  3. CM
    March 4, 2016 / 10:18 am

    I am surprised Gap and Old Navy are not on your list as they are pretty notorious for their Unethical habits.

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:46 pm

      I only included brands that had a score of 5 or below! Although, they might not be perfect they’re simply not as bad as these brands… and actually since they got such a bad rap a few years ago, they have been attempting to get better. I’m still not comfortable shopping with them, but they have made improvements.

  4. March 4, 2016 / 10:20 am

    So disheartening to see many of these brands on this list (and I expected a lot more from Free People!). I’ll have to keep this in mind next time I go shopping; thankfully, it’s not often that I do, but I hope these bigger retailers see that it’s time to make some changes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:46 pm

      I felt the same way Charlotte! Hopefully the more of us decide to avoid brands with unethical practices, the more they will move in a better direction. 🙂

  5. March 4, 2016 / 11:15 am

    I’m so sad that some of my favorites are on this list! Guess they’re not my favorites anymore!

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:47 pm

      I know Taylor! Madewell is my go to. But you can find a lot of their stuff second hand on eBay, so I guess I’ll survive. 🙂

  6. March 4, 2016 / 11:29 am

    Oh I love this post! I blog about ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly products too and I didnt know some of these brands were part of the good boys and girls gang, thanks for sharing. Have you tried Econscious and Synergy Clothing? Both amazing products and companies with high ethical standards!

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:48 pm

      I’ll have to check your blog out Jihane! We’re on the same page. 🙂 I haven’t tried them, but I’ll look into them!

  7. March 4, 2016 / 11:29 am

    Oh I love this post! I blog about ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly products too and I didn’t know some of these brands were part of the bad boys and girls gang, thanks for sharing. Have you tried Econscious and Synergy Clothing? Both amazing products and companies with high ethical standards!

  8. March 4, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    It’s something I knew and now seeing it in writing makes it real. I have to admit, I will be in mourning for some of these.

    • Karin
      March 7, 2016 / 3:49 pm

      I know Chris. I felt the same way! In fact, I had a bad dream a couple of nights ago that I was in a Madewell and I was so tempted to buy something haha!

  9. March 6, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    It’s so good to know! But I feel so sad because I absolutely adore Urban Outfitters & TopShop 🙁
    I’m definitely into this as well as cruelty free makeup! Such an informative post! xx

    • Karin
      March 14, 2016 / 10:44 pm

      Me too Ana! I loved Urban Outfitters as well!

  10. Kryptos
    March 26, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    I just checked out the full list. Was surprised that Old Navy/Banana Republic and H&M made the cut. I guess I don’t have to cut them out of my life. What a relief.

    • Karin
      April 4, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Well they aren’t the worst, but they definitely aren’t the best either! I would still proceed with caution with those stores. 🙂

    • Liz
      December 2, 2019 / 8:19 pm

      What is the article called? I can’t find it. By the way H&M is one of the stores that the movie True Cost is about. Check it out

  11. Simran
    August 25, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    Thank you for putting this out there

  12. Sadaya
    February 20, 2019 / 7:43 pm

    Thankyou for putting this info out there. One way I have been able to be more ethical is to shop thrift and consignment. Now sometimes there is a unethical brand second hand which I don’t mind as much because it has already been purchased however when I buy new I only buy from the ‘good list’.
    There is a movie called ‘True Cost’ about fashion and its upsetting but truthful about what happens when clothing is not made with good practices in mind.
    The other option is etsy…some good things there and getting something nice in the mail is fun and saves a lot of effort.

    • Karin
      February 21, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      Great tips! Thank you!

  13. Cynthia
    March 6, 2019 / 11:35 am

    Thank you for this list! I have to take the dive; children are being forced to make clothes. I do have some questions, however. Where do I draw the line? Most of my clothes come from a ministry by our church where people pass on their clothes to those who need them. So I don’t shop often. Would I be contributing to the problem by purchasing from second-hand dealers? Like, someone bought something and then sold it on Poshmark. Am I taking part in supporting child labor if I buy from that Poshmark vendor? I’m not sure if this made sense, but thank you anyway!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.