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CMA Investigating UK Fashion Brands Over Green Claims

CMA Investigating UK Fashion Brands Over Green Claims

Sustainability and eco-friendly are buzzwords that capture the fashion world at this moment in time. No matter whether you work in fashion, manufacturing or forms of fashion photography such as ghost mannequin photography, we need to be aware of how this impacts our businesses.

However, it appears there is concern by governments across the world that some fashion brands are utilising the tactic of ‘greenwashing’ The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have recently targeted three big brands including Boohoo, Asda and ASOS.

So what has the CMA said so far?

The authority announced recently that these investigations are aiming to scrutinise the claims of sustainability and eco-friendly products by fashion brands, whether that is clothing, footwear or accessories.

The CMA has set their stall out early, with Sarah Cardell, the interim chief executive of the CMA stating that if any companies are found to have misled people around their eco claims then enforcement action will be taken.

Having contacted each of the firms, the CMA has outlined their concerns and detailed how they will be gathering evidence to help complete its investigation. It is important to note here that we don’t really have any definitive evidence of claims around sustainability being exaggerated but this hasn’t stopped the CMA from getting involved.

What has the response been?

Almost immediately after the investigation was announced, ASOS responded stating its commitment to co-operating and working to make fashion a more sustainable industry. This includes providing clear and accurate information about their products.

Given the ongoing investigation, ASOS stated they won’t comment further and this is likely to be the party line for all brands until we know more.

What about the wider goals of the CMA?

This current investigation is a part of the wider plan for the CMA to target those attempting to greenwash. Given the fashion sector has sales of £54 billion a year, there is a temptation for competitors to promote how eco-friendly their products are and without significant oversight, these claims can often go unchallenged.

When we say greenwashing, we mean companies trying to build up their brand image or promote products that are kinder to the environment. Some have been found to make rather broad claims around how and when recycled materials are used, yet don’t specifically state what products they are used in.

If we take these three brands as an example, we can see that the CMA are wanting to understand if claims like ‘Responsible edit’, ‘Ready for the Future’ and ‘George for Good’ actually represent increased sustainability or mislead the public.

What does this mean for the consumer?

Right now it is hard to see whether the announced investigations will have a significant impact on consumer spending at these retail giants. With growing challenges around inflation and the cost of living, we may see some sacrifice their commitment to sustainability for more affordable options.

Once the CMA announce more detail about their investigation and initial findings, we will discover just what the future holds for these brands and others like them.

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