Is Uniqlo Ethical? Brand Breakdown and Sustainable Alternatives

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Famous for its affordable clothing lines and popular brand collaborations, Uniqlo is a modern-day high street and online shopping experience staple. Here we ask the question Is Uniqlo ethical?

Uniqlo is a Japanese clothing brand creating casual wear for men, women, and kids. Founded in 1949, the fashion brand has grown into a global retail giant with over 2000 stores worldwide.

Owned by parent company Fast Retailing Co. since 2005, Uniqlo’s parent company also owns clothing brands Theory, J Brand and G.U.

Is uniqlo ethical?
Uniqlo website

Ecothes Opinion: Uniqlo Sustainability Score

Is Uniqlo ethical?
We have given Uniqlo a ‘Could be better’ 3/5 Sustainability Score.

The brand is taking steps in the right direction regarding the use of responsible and lower impact materials, however, the brand still has a long way to go and must improve to ensure all workers work in safe working environments and are paid a living wage.

Read on to discover why we’ve given this rating.

Is Uniqlo a Fast Fashion brand?

Uniqlo operates a fast fashion business ethos, operating on a global level. The brand creates vast quantities of garments, sold at a cheap price point and heavily discounted in end-of-season sales.

Uniqlo, along with H&M and Zara, is one of the largest fast-fashion retail brands in the world, ranking third in the global ranking of fast fashion retailers. Uniqlo fuels the growth of the fast fashion industry, which is forecast to be worth over 43 billion dollars by 2029.

What Materials Does Uniqlo Use?

Uniqlo jacket


In 2018 Uniqlos’ parent company Fast Retailing (F.R.) joined the Better Cotton Initiative, a global not-for-profit organization, which promotes more sustainable methods to cotton farming by educating cotton farmers about the use of water and agricultural chemicals.

Information on Uniqlo’s website states that the brand is committed to sourcing cotton from BCI-certified farms and that by 2025, all cotton will be sourced from sustainable sources.


Uniqlo is famous for its versatile down jackets. Since 2019 all down and feathers have been responsibly sourced and certified by Responsible Down Standard (RDS).

Through Uniqlos recycling program, the brand’s line Recycled Down Jackets are made entirely from down and feathers that were sourced from down items recycled by customers.

Recycled PET materials

Recycled polyester made from recycled PET bottles is partly used in UNIQLO’s DRY-EX Polo Shirts and Fluffy Yarn Fleeces.

However, we would expect that Uniqlo works harder to increase the use of recycled materials, rather than relying on virgin polyester and other virgin materials for its lines.

Is Uniqlo Carbon Neutral?

No Uniqlo is not a carbon-neutral company, and no plans are published indicating the brand will move to a carbon-neutral model.

However, in 2020 Fast Retailing (Uniqlo’s parent company) signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which calls for a 20% aggregate reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

This pledge is a step in the right direction, but there is no published information about whether the brand is on track to meet this target.

Does Uniqlo Use Sweatshops?

Since joining the Fair Labor Association in 2015, the company has taken steps to audit its partner factories and check factories’ compliance with its Code of Conduct for Production.

Fast Retailers publish the overall findings of the yearly audits, however, unfortunately, 11% of factories audited in 2021 reported “Major violations of human rights, occupational health and safety, or wage and benefits matters”

Brand transparency is a step in the right direction. However, more is needed to be done to improve the working conditions and safety for all garment workers working in its factories.

Overall, Uniqlo was given a Transparency Index score of 42/100 in the Fashion Transparency Index 2021.

Where are Unilqos’ Clothes Made?

Fast Retailing have published a transparent list of Uniqlo’s Core Fabric Mills and all sewing factories; where finished products are manufactured.

The majority of Uniqlo’s clothing production is in factories based in China.

Is Uniqlo Cruelty-Free?

Uniqlo has banned real fur and Alpaca wool in its products. However, the brand still uses down feathers for its coats which are RDS certified.

Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Brand Alternatives to Uniqlo

If you’re looking for ethical fashion brand alternatives to Uniqlo, take a look at some of our top picks below.

Each brand uses sustainable and eco-friendly materials and produces their clothing ethically.

Check out these posts If you’re looking specifically for underwear or activewear alternatives to Uniqlo.

1. Frank and Oak

Frank and Oak Montreal

Sustainability: Certified B Corporation, ethical supply chain using low-impact and recycled materials.

Best for: Alternatives to down jackets and transitional coats

Price: $$

Frank and oak ethical alternative to uniqlo

2. Pact

Sustainability: Women’s, men’s, and children’s ethical clothing brand working with Fair Trade Certified™ factories creating clothing from organic cotton

Best for: Organic cotton basics, casual, and workwear.

Price: $-$$

3. Tentree

Tentree sustainable hoodie

Sustainability: Climate-neutral and B corp certified company creating kids, men’s, and women’s clothing ethically from sustainable materials. Tentree will plant ten trees for every item purchased.

Best for: Casualwear, sweaters, and jackets

Price: $$

Tentree cotton tshirt

4. Mate the label

Mate ethical alternative to Uniqlo

Sustainability: Climate-neutral certified company, making women and men sustainable clothing in Los Angeles. Mate donate 1% of its profits to environmental causes as 1% for the planet members.

Best for: Loungewear, casualwear.

Price: $$

Mate sustainable alternative to Uniqlo

Wrapping Up: Is Uniqlo Ethical

We hope you’ve enjoyed the article, and have made your own opinion on whether Uniqlo is ethical or not.

If you enjoyed this article, we have similar reads including is Is Athleta ethical? Is free people ethical, Is Cos fast fashion, and is Aerie ethical, make sure to check them out.


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.

Articles: 207

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