Temu and Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS Land at the Bottom of This Year’s Fashion Accountability Report

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Mar 18 2024 |
Temu screenshot taken at 12:28 p.m. central time on March 18, 2024.

Both companies earned 0 out of 150 points in Remake’s annual report, which scored 52 leading fashion brands on the progress they’ve made in key areas. But even brands that scored the highest have a long way to go.

Advocacy group Remake is out with its annual Fashion Accountability Report, which grades some of the world’s biggest fashion retailers on their business practices in critical areas. Everybody failed!

Now in its fourth year, Remake’s report highlights the continued human rights violations and negative environmental practices that penetrate the fashion industry, which conducts nearly all of its manufacturing outside of the United States. This time around, the nonprofit organization examined 52 top fashion brands in areas like traceability; sustainability; wages and wellbeing; governance; raw materials; environmental justice; and commercial practices.

Scores were given on the progress the companies have made, not promises or pledges they’ve announced.

Everlane scored the highest, earning 40 points. Interestingly, fast fashion giant H&M came in second with 37 points, as Remake noted that the while the brand “falls short on core issues at the heart of its impact: mass (over)production of cheap clothing and making good on its living wage commitments to its garment workers,” it did earn points “across all categories, but especially in the areas pertaining to emissions, water, and chemicals.” Placing fourth was Reformation, one of the few (if not only) brands on the list to maintain some kind of American manufacturing presence, although many of its products are imported.

While nobody scored particularly well, a handful of companies failed to put up a single point — including one brand that’s earned a lot of criticism from us.

Temu — the Chinese direct-to-consumer online retailer that has exploited the de minimis loophole to send hundreds of thousands of packages to the U.S. daily without paying tariffs or going through U.S. Customs inspections — earned zero points in the report. It’s the first time Temu has been featured in the report, which noted that the company failed to set any emissions targets or even report its emissions. Temu also failed to disclose its suppliers, perhaps not surprisingly, considering that the company stands accused of utilizing forced labor.

Temu wasn’t alone in earning zero points, however. SKIMS, the uber popular underwear brand headed by Kim Kardashian, also scored a goose egg, as did fast fashion brands Missguided and Fashion Nova.

Plenty of companies didn’t fare much better, and both luxury and discount brands scored poorly. Department store Kohls earned just two points; iconic company Chanel put up five points. Amazon scored five points, as did Savage x Fenty, the popular underwear line founded by the singer Rhianna.

Temu’s chief rival, SHEIN, managed to put up six points. Unlike Temu, SHEIN did engage with Remake for the report, and reported some of its carbon emissions. But the fast fashion behemoth — which like Temu, exploits the de minimis loophole and stands accused of forced labor and other bad practices — has a long way to go to improve its practices.

Above all, the report really shows just how damaging the global fashion industry has become, particularly for workers’ rights and the environment. Nearly the entire fashion industry continues to deploy awful practices like forced labor and sweatshops in order to make far more clothing than the world needs, pricing it all so cheaply that it becomes easily disposable, creating 92 million tons of textile waste every year.

So, what do we do about it?

First, there’s the policy. For decades, official U.S. policy encouraged offshoring production in order to import apparel as cheaply as possible. That nearly destroyed the American textile industry, which lost 900,000 jobs from 1994 to 2005. We need to do more to encourage the reshoring of American textile production, including strengthening and better enforcing Buy America preferences to support domestic manufacturers.

But we also need to stop giving bad actors like SHEIN and Temu unearned advantages over our own producers and companies that play by the rules. That starts with closing the de minimis loophole, which has allowed these brands to send their products to the U.S. duty-free.

You can help: Tell your Members of Congress to support the Import Security and Fairness Act.

Second, there’s consumer habits. This is a major challenge, since the entire retail landscape has been built to support the consumption of cheap imported clothing. That doesn’t mean, however, that small changes aren’t worthwhile. If more people opted out of purchasing from the worst players and opted to buy their goods from brands that are serious about improving their practices, that could go a long way.

And of course, we are the Alliance for American Manufacturing: We think a good place to start is by shopping from reputable Made in America companies. One that comes to mind is American Roots, the Maine-based clothing manufacturer that employs a union workforce to make its stylish line of hoodies, T-shirts, and accessories.

As American Roots notes on its website, most of its clothing is made to order to prevent overproduction and reduce waste — the exact sort of business practices more clothing manufacturers should employ. That said, right now American Roots is holding its retail spring cleaning sale to offer some of its products to online consumers, a great alternative for shoppers looking to support well-paid jobs and a company dedicated to more ethical business practices.