Is Express Fast Fashion? Brand Analysis + 5 Alternatives

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Are you wondering is Express fast fashion? Then you’re in the right place.

As we need to reduce our consumption and consumer habits, many of us are now changing the way we shop, choosing smaller sustainable brands over large fast fashion brands.

That’s why we ask the question Is Express fast fashion? We discuss brand ethics, materials, and where its clothes are made.

Express Inc. is a large American retailer founded in 1980 in Chicago. The brand creates men’s and women’s clothing, and over the past 40 years, the brand has expanded rapidly, operating online and in over 500 stores across North and South America.

Ecothes Opinion: Express Sustainability Rating

is express fast fashion?
We give a terrible rating of 1/5 for Express, and we would consider them a brand we wouldn’t support.

We’ll discuss more below!

What We Liked:

❌ Unfortunately, there was nothing we found which we liked about Express.

What We Didn’t Like:

❌ A big red flag from the brand is the lack of transparency about where its clothes are made or the audit scores of the factories it works with.

❌ The brand also isn’t doing enough to ensure workers are paid a living wage and instead is compliant in allowing workers to be paid low wages.

❌ Another point we didn’t like was the greenwashing behind the brand’s ‘conscious edit’; the brand is deceptively coming across as environmentally friendly when the brand overall is not.

Is Express Fast Fashion?

Yes, Express is considered a fast-fashion brand. As a result, we see the retail giant creating thousands of styles that change based on rapidly changing trends.

We see the Express website adding 100s of new styles regularly, which leaves the brand selling off old stock for a discounted price (As shown in a snippet below taken from the Express website).

Is Express Fast Fashion example of sale on website

The fast-fashion model is detrimental to the environment; it encourages customers to consume more clothing, ultimately ending up in landfills or incinerated. Plus, because the brand creates thousands of styles that they may not sell, this also means more textile waste.

What Materials Does Express Use?

Worryingly, Express uses a low amount of sustainable materials. Instead, the brand opts for polyester, nylon, and cotton materials. Unfortunately, these materials are environmentally damaging as polyester and nylon rely on crude oil and are not biodegradable. In addition, while cotton is biodegradable, cotton uses vast amounts of water to produce and is often grown and harvested in countries where low wages and forced labor are common.

The brand has released a ‘Conscious Edit’ consisting mainly of products created from ‘blended fabrics’ which feature a percentage of recycled polyester or recycled nylon… It smells a lot like greenwashing to us.

Greenwashing Red Flag

Taken from the Express website, a note about the brands ‘Conscious Edit’, when the brand isn’t taking serious steps to prioritize the use of sustainable materials across its collections.

As part of the brand’s sustainability goals, Express hopes to source 20% of fabrics sustainably and produce 75% of its denim range sustainably – not good enough if you ask us.

Is Express Carbon Neutral?

Nope, Express is not Carbon neutral, nor does the brand give any information on its greenhouse gas emissions or whether the company is even bothering to reduce them.

Is Express Ethical?

Again, the lack of transparency around the factories Express works with is worrying.

The brand has a short and general ‘Code of Conduct’ available to read (which took us a longggg time to find), which all partner factories must adhere to.

Express states that factories are audited annually, and more regular audits may occur in countries with a known high risk by the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons Report.

The brand is not championing a living wage for its garment workers. The Express code of conduct specified ‘Suppliers shall ensure that workers are paid wages equal to the minimum wage prescribed by local law or the prevailing local industry wage, whichever is higher. Therefore Express is allowing workers in less economically developed countries to be paid a low salary.

Where are Express Clothes Made?

Express says they source clothing from all over the world… they don’t give any details of which countries or factories it works with – a big red flag regarding ethics and transparency.

The brand simply says that items are ‘imported,’ but we want to know where from.

Is Express Cruelty-Free?

The brand states it doesn’t use alpaca wool. However, Express does use other wool and states that their wool is from non-mulesed or recycled sources. When researching, though, we couldn’t find any mention of any responsible wool certifications such as Z.Q., RSW, or GRS.

Does Express Have A Clothing Recycling Program?

Nope, Express doesn’t have or actively promote a clothing recycling program.

One initiative the brand does have is a clothes rental system. Of course, renting clothes is a good way of reducing your consumption; however, there are many great rental programs out there from brands that are way more ethical and sustainable than Express – Rent The Runway, for example.

Sustainable Alternatives to Express

1. Reformation

Reformation dress sustainable alternatives to Express Clothing

Sustainability: Ethical production, climate-neutral brand creating stylish, sustainable clothing from recycled materials

Best for: Dresses, Denim, Shirts

Ships to: Worldwide

Reformation ethical alternatives to Express

2. Amour Vert

Amour Vert sustainable alternatives to Express Fashion

Sustainability: Sustainable fabrics, recyclable packaging, tree planting

Best for: Blouses, Dresses, Casual Wear

Ships to: Worldwide

Amour Vert alternatives to is express fast fashion

3. Whimsy + Row

Whimsy and Row ethical alternatives to Express

Sustainability: Stylish slow fashion brand creating clothing made in Los-Angeles from responsible fabrics

Best for: Dresses, Occasion wear, Shirts

Ships to: the U.S. & International

Whimsy and Row


Sustainability: Ethical brand creating dreamy dresses from regenerative cotton and deadstock fabrics

Best for: Dresses, Jumpsuits

Ships to: Worldwide

Christy Dawn alternatives to Express


Sustainability: Certified B Corp and climate-neutral certified brand creating sustainable clothing for men and women.

Best for: Casual wear

Ships to: The U.S. & International

If you enjoyed this brand spotlight and are curious to see if other brands are fast fashion, check out some of our other guides, including Hollister, Banana Republic, Blushmark, Madewell, Aritzia, and Sézane.

As always, let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!


Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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