As we reduce our carbon footprints and make the change to shop more sustainably, it’s important to tell which brands are greenwashing and which are actually sustainable.
That’s why we ask the question Is American eagle fast fashion? We discuss whether the brand is ethical, its materials, and where its clothes are made.
- About American Eagle
- Is American Eagle Fast Fashion?
- What Materials Does American Eagle Use?
- Is American Eagle Carbon Neutral?
- Is American Eagle Ethical?
- Where are American Eagle Clothes Made?
- Is American Eagle Cruelty-Free?
- Does American Eagle Have A Clothing Recycling Program?
- Sustainable Alternatives to American Eagle
- Related Posts: Is American Eagle Fast Fashion?
Let’s jump in.
Is American Eagle Fast Fashion?
Overall, we’d still consider American Eagle to be a fast fashion brand.
American Eagle creates clothing at an affordable price but doesn’t retail its clothing for shockingly low prices as we see with other fast fashion brands. However, the clothing brand does follow the fast fashion model of creating hundreds of garments that follow rapidly changing trends.
We checked how many different styles of tops American Eagle currently has on its website, and it has over four hundred different styles – which doesn’t exactly scream ‘sustainable slow fashion’ to us.
About American Eagle
American Eagle is a clothing retailer creating laidback men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.
Founded in Pennsylvania in 1977, the brand has grown to become one of the largest retail brands in America, with its clothing available in its 1,000 stores worldwide and online.
American Eagle is currently owned by the parent company American Eagle Outfitters® (AEO), which also parents sister company Aerie.
What Materials Does American Eagle Use?
American Eagle has introduced the use of some sustainable materials into its collections like organic cotton, recycled cotton, and BCI cotton. In addition, the brand has also started to introduce some recycled polyester.
While the introduction of some sustainable materials is great to see, there are still improvements AEO can make.
AEO aims to source 100% of its cotton from sustainable sources by 2023 (this includes recycled, organic, and BCI cotton). In 2020 the brand only achieved a meager 26% from sustainable sources and hadn’t yet published the data for 2021. We’re interested to see an update from the brand on how close it is to achieving its 2023 targets.
On the other hand, the brand still uses large amounts of polyester in its clothing. Even though the brand has pledged to use 50% more recycled polyester, the plastic synthetic material is not biodegradable and will stick around the planet for hundreds of years.
Is American Eagle Carbon Neutral?
No American Eagle is not carbon neutral.
The brand plans to be carbon-neutral in its offices, stores, and distribution centers by 2030 and reduce GHG emissions by 40% in all manufacturing facilities.
While it’s great to see a brand putting forward these targets to reduce carbon emissions, there is no indication from the company on whether it is set to meet its targets.
It would be an improvement if AEO were more transparent about its current carbon emissions in relation to its carbon-neutrality goal.
Is American Eagle Ethical?
American Eagle does have a Code of Ethical Conduct, which its factories must adhere to. The brand also states that factories are audited and visited annually by the AEO team to ensure standards are met.
However, one caveat with this is that American Eagle doesn’t disclose scores from these audits, so we cannot verify if all of its factories meet its ethical code of conduct or whether there are non-conformances within its supply chain.
In addition, AEO states that it encourages its suppliers to pay a living wage but does not demand this as a standard in its code of conduct.
AEO achieved a poor 16% overall score in the Fashion Transparency Index 2021, a tool designed to hold large fashion brands accountable for human rights, environmental policies, and sustainable production practices.
Overall, the lack of transparency surrounding AEO, which includes audit scores and factory lists, makes it difficult to determine if American Eagle is ethical or is hiding behind CSR jargon used as a tool for its stakeholders.
Where are American Eagle Clothes Made?
AEO manufacturers its clothing in 300 factories in more than 20 countries worldwide.
One issue we have with the brand is that it doesn’t disclose a list of these factories. AEO fails to provide factory-specific information about pay, working environments, or other important attributes for workers’ safety and treatment in each factory.
Is American Eagle Cruelty-Free?
American Eagle doesn’t tolerate animal cruelty within its design, manufacturing, or testing stage.
The brand also excludes the use of fur, endangered skins, Mulesed wool, animal testing, and Angora wool in its products.
The brand still permits leather, alpaca, and down, but these must carry responsible sourcing standards, including the Leather Working Group and Responsible Down standards.
Does American Eagle Have A Clothing Recycling Program?
American Eagle has implemented a recycling system within its stores to recycle old denim. The “Blue Jeans Go Green” initiative is a collection program turning old jeans into home insulation.
American Eagle has also partnered with the Give Back Box initiative, where customers can print a free returns label and donate their pre-loved clothes to charities.
Ecothes Opinion: Overall Sustainability Score
What we liked
✔ We like that the brand is introducing more sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled cotton, and sustainably sourced cotton into its collections.
✔ We also liked that the brand actively participates in recycling initiatives and has a plan to reduce carbon emissions.
What we didn’t like
❌ We didn’t like the lack of transparency around its manufacturing partners.
❌ We also didn’t like that the brand doesn’t disclose a list of its suppliers and doesn’t disclose its supply chain traceability or audit scores, so it is difficult to check whether American Eagle is creating all of its clothing ethically.
❌ Although we liked the targets the brand has set around reducing its carbon emissions, we don’t like the fact the brand is not disclosing its progress on these targets.
Sustainable Alternatives to American Eagle
While American Eagle is talking about improving its use of sustainable materials and ethical sourcing, there are brands out there who are creating genuinely sustainable clothing.
Check out our favorite sustainable alternatives to American Eagle:
Sustainability: Carbon-neutral brand creating sustainable clothing using natural and recycled fabrics and ethical production.
Best for: Denim, tops, dresses
Ships to: Worldwide
Sustainability: Ethical production, supply chain transparency, natural and biodegradable fibers
Best for: Dresses, t-shirts
Ships to: Worldwide
Sustainability: GOTS-certified organic cotton created in Fair Trade-certified factories
Best for: tank tops, dresses, pajamas, underwear
Ships to: Worldwide
Read our breakdown of Pact’s Sustainability initiatives here.
4. Amour Vert
Sustainability: Zero-waste design, sustainable fabrics, and tree planting
Best for: Casual wear and dresses
Ships to: Worldwide