The sun never sets down in the fashion and lifestyle arena. Maintaining standards, coming up with more exquisite designs each year, and taking care of supplies make the apparel industry a busy contributor to the international economy. It enjoys a steady rise in demand each passing second in the present world and has been doing well to meet those standards and needs. However, one must also ask, “at what cost?” Leading apparel brands such as H&M, Adidas, Nike, Zara, and GAP have dominated the fashion industry over the past half-century and are seen as mammoths of the fashion ecosystem. However, what happens to the ecosystem while catering to steep demands and steadily changing fashion trends? In this article, let’s see how one such brand, MissGuided Clothes, has gained notoriety as a peak offender within the fashion industry.
It is not the first time a brand has been held accountable for handling operations irresponsibly. MissGuided has been accused of polluting natural and social ecosystems by promoting overconsumption. When brands promote overconsumption, it leads to acute wastage of products, resources, human labor, and wealth. Often brands reject such claims in the mad race to gain supremacy over their close adversaries. Speaking of MissGuided, environmentalists and humanists have always asked where MissGuided source its clothes from? What labor policies are in place at MissGuided? Does its business model have adverse effects on the environment? At what cost is MissGuided making us look good at events?
MissGuided is known to rely on sweatshops to manage the enormous production volume. Perhaps this is the apparel industry's dark side – it thrives on child labor and labor exploitation. Even today, provinces in China are full of places where laborers are forced to work with minimal rights, for minimal wages, and are often held back working hours to meet the production targets. MissGuided, a UK-based brand, also again relies on similar production units. The brand was sued by Kim Kardashian for producing replicas of her outfits, and since then, it has been regularly in the limelight of controversy. Recently, they were also in the news for the PR disaster following a project that glorified past and heritage fashion in their projects and collections. Being an international brand, one might think it might have high ethical standards, but it is a pity that MissGuided has constantly been in the news for exploiting its artisans.
The brand, famous for streetwear, pumps out almost 1000 new products per week. The products are consumed at the same speed that they are produced. This is how MissGuided is promoting overconsumption. In addition, it has no proper distribution channels, which leads to an unfathomable amount of waste. The brand is far behind other UK fashion mammoths in terms of sustainable practices and is facing massive backlash for not dealing with this issue.
A majority of products produced by Missguided cater to women. Ironically, a majority of labor exploited seems to be the female population. It is not known to support any labor empowerment initiatives and has also been accused of stealing the wages of the laborers. What is worse is that even during the pandemic where laborers worldwide were protected, MissGuided introduced no policies to keep its workforce safe. Although they have always boasted of a very huge percentage of women working with them, there has never been a transparent report available. Thus, it is very difficult to believe their claims. Relying on sweatshops in an age where more and more industries embrace state-of-the-art technology is a crime against humanity. To make things worse, the inhumane behavior and lack of policies are making the entire apparel industry boycott MissGuided.
Animal fur and skin have always been a controversial but inseparable part of the fashion industry. However, in recent years and with the advent of a vegan lifestyle, fashion elites have started opting for synthetic alternatives. Leading brands can be seen actively boycotting leather and marketing faux leather. MissGuided also portrayed itself as a frontrunner of this cause, but was embroiled in a very accusation of selling actual animal fur as faux fur pom-pom trims. This has led to negative publicity, and since then, it has tried to stay away from the limelight.
MissGuided has tried its best to show that they too support the environmental cause, but their unethical practices seem to overshadow all their efforts to improve their presence. After being criticized by the likes of Kim Kardashian, there is little to no chance of the brand making a comeback into the fashion industry. It may have some leverage in Europe but not in the West anymore. If they improve their efforts to reach a consensus on labor conditions, transparency, and recruiting women at senior positions, the brand may regain some of its lost fame. However, at this point, no one wishes to associate themselves with the brand and its name. Besides, environmentalists unanimously agree on the degree of ecosystem damage MissGuided’s supply causes and want the supply policies too amended drastically.
To address the primary concern, they should grow out of their sweatshop supply chains because of the miserable working conditions, workers being exposed to severe health hazards, lack of infrastructure, etc. The brand needs to reinvent itself with solid ethics and believe in humanity first. They may have to let go of their obsession with mass production and concentrate on producing according to the demand. Moreover, the company will need to revise policies and operations completely. More and more brands are moving away from practices that lead to labor exploitation. Many established brands are already tackling such issues, and it is advisable that MissGuided, too, follows the trend. The initiative is to move towards a sustainable tomorrow and thrives on honestly and brotherhood.