Is Free People Sustainable?
Free People is not sustainable, which is shocking given the price tag attached to most of its items. Just browsing through the website, many of its dresses are over $100, most tops are anywhere from $38 to over $100 and most pants are close to or over $100.
Typically a dead giveaway that a brand is not sustainable is when the prices are ridiculously low. With that not being the case here, we have to look a little deeper into the company’s practices.
What are Free People’s Sustainable Ratings?
On the brand rating site, Good On You, Free People was rated ‘not good enough’ for its sustainability. This is because there is no evidence that Free People minimizes textile waste, implements water reduction initiatives or reduces hazardous chemicals. The rating site does mention that Free People uses some renewable energy in its direct operations, which is a plus, but the company does not utilize this in the supply chain.
The Roundup, a website dedicated to informing the public about sustainable living and eco-friendly products, had a lot to say about Free People as well. According to The Roundup, Free People offers a minimal selection of clothes made from eco-friendly materials and has shown no initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, toxic chemicals or water usage.
The last indicator that Free People is not sustainable comes from where its designs come from. In May, Rachel Faller, co-creator of the ethical fashion brand tonlé, spoke out about how Free People copied one of her designs. This is just one instance of the many times Free People has copied small clothing lines’ designs. Copying designs is a practice fast fashion brands use constantly to pump out new clothes quickly and cheaply. Many of these will be purchased and then potentially, quickly discarded because of the poor quality. Thus bringing down their sustainability.
The History of Free People
Free People is a clothing store that was started in the 1970s in West Philadelphia, PA by Dick Hayne. He wanted to bring a sense of freedom to the young people who shopped at the store. The brand provided a bohemian clothing style for them to explore.
Starting from that one store, there are now more than 1400 stores globally. Free People is now a subsidiary of URBN. URBN owns well-known brands like Urban Outfitters and Anthropology.
Is Free People Trying to be More Sustainable?
Although Free People does have many marks against them when it comes to sustainability, the company does have a few initiatives in place to better itself. These initiatives all fall under its Care FP clothing collection. The initiatives include:
- Thoughtful Living: Products designed with eco friendly materials
- Made with Love: Ethical products made by hand
- Circular Designs: Styles and Products made from upcycled materials
- Clean Beauty Products: Tools, sustainable options and pro-vetted certifications for clean living
What are Some Sustainable Alternatives to Free People?
If you love Free People’s clothes the but want to support support sustainability there are some alternatives. Here are a few:
TAMGA Designs was rated ‘Great’ on Good On You for its locally made clothes from surplus fabric and reduction of toxic materials and chemicals. The clothes on its website are boho and vintage styles just like Free People and the prices here seem potentially a bit cheaper, depending on what you are looking for, as well.
This company I mentioned before as one that Free People had copied a design from. That being said, the style this company offers is very similar to what Free People does. On top of that, it was rated ‘Great’ on Good On You. This company minimizes waste, water use and uses eco-friendly materials
If you have any questions, please contact me at LexySilverstein@gmail.com. By the way, if you want more information on the sustainable dress I’m wearing please in the photo above, visit the website of the talented designer Natalia Trevino Amaro.