How Sustainable Is "Eco-Conscious" Fashion Brand Nobody's Child?

M&S has brought a new label to its online store.

A model wearing a black, blue green and mustard floral dress
Nobody's Child x M&S

M&S has partnering up with "sustainable" fast fashion brand Nobody’s Child in the hopes of widening their audience and boosting sales. Although they may still be the biggest clothing retailer in the UK, the high street giant’s clothing sales fell by 75% during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. But the brand is hoping that fresh, young appeal of Nobody’s Child on M&S' online store might just help turn things around.

Created in 2015, Nobody’s Child describes itself as “an independent, eco-conscious fashion brand with a spirited customer base that shares our passion for sustainability and self-expression”. With affordable and stylish clothes for as little as £12, this collaboration seems like a no-brainer. But is Nobody’s Child as eco-conscious as they claim to be?

When it comes to terms like “sustainability”, “eco-conscious” and “ethical”, there is no one definition or benchmark. Writing in Eco Watch, Jeanette Cwienk says, "sustainability is not a protected or specific term, which leaves the door wide open for so-called greenwashing." She argues fast fashion cannot be sustainable regardless of fabrics or supply chain. The issue being quantity. “The real problem is that far too many clothes are being produced,” she argues.

Sustainability directory Good On You rated Nobody's Child “not good enough” when it comes to its impact on the planet or its treatment of people in its supply chain, but scored the brand “good” for its treatment of animals. The directory says: “It uses few eco-friendly materials. It has fast fashion traits such as on trend styles and regular new arrivals. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals. There is no evidence it implements water reduction initiatives." Good On You also says there was no evidence Nobody's Child audits any of its supply chains or ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain.

Nobody's Child admits there are still improvements to be made. “We are not perfect; we are on a journey to making better decisions for the planet.” So far it uses certified products where possible, like GOTS organic cotton, GRS certified recycled polyester, LENZING™ ECOVERO™. Currently, only 75% of the range is from 100% sustainable fabrics. They want this to be 100% by 2022.

It says they have factories in seven countries, and although detailed information isn’t available on their website, they do say that “All our factories are required to undergo yearly third-party audits to ensure fair, safe and healthy working conditions”. Currently, only 15% of their factories have eco accreditations, by 2022 they want to increase this to 70%.

I contacted Nobody's Child for further comment and will update this piece as soon as new information becomes available.

Surprisingly, Good On You rated M&S higher than Nobody’s Child, whose sell is eco-conscious fashion. M&S scored “good” for their use of eco-friendly materials, audited facilities and a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gases.

Nobody's Child’s is not perfect but it’s definitely moving in the right direction with a clear plan of action. But if you’re looking for eco-friendly high street fashion you can just shop in M&S too. And perhaps through the collaboration, Nobody’s Child will take a leaf out of M&S book.