3 Reformation Red Flags

Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option.

A few things about Reformation have always felt slightly off to me. One of them being their tagline. "Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option, we're #2." While I don't expect every catchy slogan to be factual this one is intentionally misleading. In the sustainable fashion sphere the leaders are usually always talking about wearing what you own, sharing, and buying second hand. Additionally, it preys on young women's desire to want to be sustainable and telling them that as long as they buy from Reformation it is okay and you are doing good for the planet. 🤔

The most sustainable garment is the one already in your closet. -Orsola De Castro


You can't buy your way into sustainable. -Aja Barber


How can I distinguish if a brand is actually as sustainable

as they say they are?

1. What are the company's sustainability claims?

  • Look to see what the company is saying about themselves and if there is anyone supporting these claims.

  • Some examples of outside certification are Textile Exchange, Oeko-Tex

  • With Reformation they actually made it easy and have been audited by Eco-Age

If we had just looked under the surface we would not have been surprised by this recent post.

If you haven't read you can see the full post which is still up on their instagram @Reformation.

In 2019, they publicly posted their scorecard (from the Eco-age Audit) on their website. Looking at it we clearly see they are not the most sustainable besides being naked. In terms of their "I've failed" post, CEO Yael Aflalo states "Reformation does not support or tolerate racism or discrimination." Reformation opened in 2009 yet their first reports from 2016, 2017 and 2018 do not mention culture or diversity scores and in 2019 their score is 1. For a decade the company did not consider and chose to ignore culture and diversity issues. They did nothing to address it until it was public and they were forced to.

I now feel personal shame for once considering them a sustainable company I could indulge in based of their marketing. Looking back I realize my mistake was accepting what I wanted to hear and not digging deeper.

2. How does the company define sustainability?

While I understand that every business needs to be profitable to survive, including it in your sustainability plan seems counterproductive. If profits are driving your sustainability plan that means you will sacrifice people and planet for profit. Given the fact Reformation was able to raise $37 million in funding and was projected to bring in $150 million in sales in 2017 it seems they lost their core "sustainable" values for profit.

they lost their core "sustainable" values for profit.

3. Do their products match their mission?

  • Reformation has an entire page about their fibers and almost every garment says it comes from a certified renewable forest, but their goals are to have this sourcing in place by the end of 2020.

"75% of fabric spend meet A/Bs for Ref’s Fiber Standards by 2020 90% of fabric spend meet A/B/Cs for Ref’s Fiber Standards by 2023 By 2023, 100% of our fabrics for clothing will be from preferred plant-based or recycled fibers. 20% of all viscose using Next Generation feedstock content by the end of 2021 Secure 2-3 major sourcing “wins” a year. all viscose sourcing to Canopy green shirt viscose by the end of 2020"

- Reformation sustainable goals


Where do we go from here?

Reformation seems more sustainable than other fashion companies, but their culture and branding still leads to creating mass consumption. Also my one piece of Reformation clothing the first time I washed it shrunk to fit a fifth grader.

  1. We need to start critically looking at the website information from companies that are promoting themselves as a sustainable option.

  2. Look beyond the first search on Google here are some articles that come up about Reformation when you dig deeper on the search pipeline

  3. Reformation wants to be the new Zara

  4. Racist culture at Reformation

  5. Reformation identifies as a sustainable Fast-Fashion brand

  6. Employee Reviews on Workplace and Culture

As a part time employee, we were treated so terribly and management did not care. Every email, complaint, and meeting was disregarded. Corporate is just as bad, they listen to nothing. They pay everyone as little as possible and drastically cut your hours without warning, to the point my coworkers thought they would get evicted. We are chronically understaffed because of how cheap they are on payroll. Everyone is miserable all the time. The corporate employees are similar to high school mean girls- they come visit occasionally, talk to us like we're idiots, and talk so poorly about other employees behind their backs. It was so petty and just proved they didn't care about us either. AND THESE ARE OUR LEADERS. So many employees had to make reports to OSHA and the New York labor organizations about our treatment, management knew about it, and didn't care at all. Nothing ever changed. -Employee in NY August 2019

  1. We need to have our own definition of what sustainable purchasing means to you and make sure a company aligns with that ideal

  2. Overall mass reduction in purchasing and focusing on quality timeless styles not quick trends.


Upcoming reviews:

1) Levi's

2) Anthropologie

3) Dr. Brommers

4) Whole Foods, 365

What brands are you curious about?