Is J Crew Fast Fashion? Ethics, Rating, and Alternatives

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J Crew is an American fashion retailer founded in 1947 and is today operated by the J Crew group, which owns sister companies Madewell and J Crew Factory.

The brand is a household name across America, with 450 retail stores throughout the United States in 2016. J. Crew is known for its men’s and women’s collections and children’s wear.

The brand declared bankruptcy in 2020 due to losses throughout the pandemic. However, the brand remains a prominent player in the US retail market.

We ask the question, Is J. Crew Fast Fashion? Discussing is J Crew ethical, and where is J. Crew’s clothing made?

Is J Crew Fast Fashion?

Although you might not consider J. Crew in the same fast fashion league as brands such as Zaful, Aritzia, and Shein, we would consider J. Crew a fast fashion brand.

J. Crew mass produces hundreds of styles based on changing trends, most of which end up in end-of-season sales.

What Materials Does J Crew Use?

In recent years J. Crew increased the use of sustainable materials in its collections and has set the following targets for 2025 in terms of materials:

  • By 2025, 100 percent of J. Crew’s cotton and key fibers such as Nylon and Polyester will be sustainably sourced.
  • By 2025, 100 percent of plastic and paper packaging will be sustainably sourced.
  • By 2025, over 90 percent of our cashmere and chino collections will be produced in Fair Trade Certified™ facilities.

While it’s great to set targets to improve their materials, how close are J Crew to meeting its targets?

Well in 2021, the brand will use the following key materials:

  • 61% of J. Crew’s cotton was organic, recycled, or BCI sourced.
  • Only 15% of the polyester used in 2021 was from recycled sources.
  • 41% of cellulose-based fibers were sourced from recycled or renewable or low emissions.
Is J Crew fast fashion article sustainable materials used in 2021

So we can see that while introducing more responsibly sourced materials is a step in the right direction, the brand is still using large quantities of unsustainable materials, including 75% of its polyester consisting of virgin polyester, to create its collections.

Is J Crew Carbon Neutral?

No, J. Crew is currently not a carbon-neutral company.

The brand has set the target to achieve carbon neutrality for all its operations by 2030; this only extends, however, to Scope 1 and 2 emissions in its stores, offices, and distribution centers.

However, J. Crew recognizes that the most significant percentage of GHG emissions come from Scope 3 emissions in its supply chain and distribution; the brand, unfortunately, however, only has a target to reduce these emissions by 30%.

Is J Crew Ethical?

Unfortunately, when researching, we found limited information from J. Crew surrounding its supply chain traceability outside its Fair Trade factories. This is reflected in the brand’s Fashion Transparency Index score from 2020, in which J. Crew only achieved a score of 14%.

J. Crew has a code of conduct that doesn’t permit its suppliers to use any forced or child labor and specifies that safe working conditions must be met.

In 2021 the brand stated its conducted 126 audits in its factories, and two factories did not meet its conduct standards and therefore, J Crew ceased production with those factories. In addition, the brand states that non-compliances were noted in the majority of its factories, and the brand put an action plan in place – however, J. Crew does not specify the noncompliances.

We feel that the brand doesn’t do enough to campaign for workers to be paid a living wage in supplier factories and states, “Workers shall be paid at least the minimum wage or a wage consistent with prevailing local industry standards, whichever is higher.”

Where are J Crew’s Clothes Made?

The brand does partner with Fair Trade USA and has the goal that 90% of its chino and cashmere styles will be produced in fair trade factories in Vietnam, China, and Turkey. But, where is the rest of the brand’s clothing made? Unfortunately, that is something the brand fails to mention or disclose.

While J. Crew does use some Fair Trade-certified factories, the brand lacks transparency around where all of its products are made.

An improvement we’d like to see would be for the brand to publish a complete list of factories across its supply chain and disclose the audit results for each factory.

Is J. Crew Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

J. Crew has an animal welfare policy and states that the brand is Fur-free, exotic animal skin free, and prohibits the use of endangered animals in its products. In addition, J. Crew uses wool in its collections but specifies that it is from Responsible Wool Standard sources.

However, we wouldn’t consider the brand cruelty-free as it uses leather from noncertified sources.

Does J. Crew Have A Clothing Recycling Program?

J. Crew does not have a customer clothes recycling program or resale platform.

Ecothes Opinion: Is J. Crew Fast Fashion?

Is J Crew Fast Fashion?
Overall we give J. Crew a sustainability score of 2/5.

What we liked:
✔ The brand is increasing its use of sustainable materials such as organic cotton, BCI cotton, and responsible cellulose fibers.
✔We like the brand partnering with Fair Trade-certified factories to ensure safe working conditions for garment workers.
What we didn’t like: 
❌Most of the brand’s polyester is virgin polyester, which relies on fossil fuels.
❌We didn’t like the brand claiming to become carbon-neutral by 2030 when this claim excludes its complete supply chain.
❌We didn’t like the lack of transparency around the J. Crew supply chain outside its Fair Trade factories.

Ethical Alternatives to J. Crew

We’ve included our favorite clothing brands below, which already use sustainable materials and ethical production in their supply chain.

1. Able

Ethical alternatives to J Crew Able

Sustainability: Responsible fabrics, ethical, transparent production, and a lifetime guarantee on all clothing.

Best for: Dresses, Tops, Casual wear

Ships to: the US & Canada only

Able alternatives to J Crew

2. Sézane

Sezane ethical alternative to J. Crew

Sustainability: Recycled materials, audited factories, ethical supply chain

Best for: Denim, Shirts, Tops, Dresses

Ecothes Score: 4/5

Ships to: Worldwide


3. Reformation

Reformation ethical alternatives to J Crew

Sustainability: Organic, natural, and recycled materials, factory transparency, ethical production

Best for: Dresses, Denim, Shirts, Occasionwear

Ships to: Worldwide

Reformation sustainable alternatives to J Crew

4. Pact

Pact clothing

Sustainability: GOTS organic cotton clothing and Fair Trade certified factories

Best for: Organic cotton basics

Ships to: Worldwide

Pact clothing


Sustainability: Ethical production, sustainable materials

Best for: Casual wear and workwear

Ships to: the US

Karen Kane clothing

Related Posts: Is J. Crew Fast Fashion?

If you enjoyed this article discover brand analysis of other brands including Hollister, Free People, Banana Republic, and Asos.

Let us know if you have any feedback or 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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