Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by Princess Polly #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Image by Princess Polly

Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion?

Molly Willows


Australian-based Princess Polly sells affordable, on-trend, and oftentimes viral fashion that caters to the Gen Z creative “cool” class.

With Insta-worthy styles and an army of influencers donning their threads on the daily, the brand has become an obsession for countless young women around the globe.

Most notable was when celebrity performer Ariana Grande sported their jeans, instantly catapulting them to icon status for the Insta girlies.

As they rapidly overtake the retail market in the US, the brand is simultaneously making huge catwalk strides toward presenting as a sustainable fashion brand.

But as with any brand that claims to be the opposite, we can’t help but wonder: is Princess Polly fast fashion? 

On principle of their production pace alone, yes, Princess Polly is fast fashion.

That said, many of their efforts towards sustainability and ethical sourcing are truly commendable.

But therein lies the dichotomy of their ever-expanding multi-million dollar clothing corporation—how can you be a real sustainable brand when your goal is limitless (un-sustainable) growth and record-breaking, relentless fashion turnover?

1. Uncovering Why Princess Polly Is Fast Fashion

Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by asphotowed #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Image by asphotowed

The Princess Polly mission statement was recently rewritten to market the brand as a sustainable one, saying: 

OUR MISSION IS TO MAKE ON-TREND FASHION SUSTAINABLE.

“We’re still doing what we do best, and now we’re pioneering a sustainable future for the fashion industry. Our mission is to make on-trend, sustainable fashion accessible to everyone by rebuilding our entire supply chain over the coming years to source all of our products sustainably. We’re proud that our garments are made from high quality materials that are made to last while still being accessibly priced.

“After all, why shouldn’t quality, sustainable fashion be on-trend, accessible and ready for the weekend?”

It’s a lovely, lofty, and aspirational statement…that must be taken with a grain of salt when any fashion brand carrying thousands of apparel items made cheaply from mostly synthetic materials concurrently rejoices about “sustainability”.

Princess Polly offers 7000+ styles with huge new drops daily and legions of TikTok elites who showcase massive hauls to promote more consumption, and quickly. Constantly.

As in, new “drops” happen daily. 

70% of their fashion line is yet to be made for their more eco-friendly Lower Impact line and while they claim an “on demand” production model to reduce waste, they regularly hold clearance sales to sell off excess piles of overstock for bargain basement prices.

They also offer frequent style changes and a trend driven approach, use low cost materials, high speed production, rapid product turnover, and support “haul” culture online to promote their brand.

They’re also ranked as the 5th most popular online shopping site for young consumers, despite their notably above-average price point (similar to Free People).

Ariana Grande’s Princess Polly jeans went viral on TikTok—but they cost $76, which more reflects high-end retail prices.

Is it not just expensive fast fashion? 

Some critics argue PP’s approach is worse than fast fashion, which like top offender Shein, is “ultra fast” fashion…

So is Princess Polly legit sustainable, or is it a matter of looking green-seeming to a Gen Z crowd who care as much about viral style as they do Greta Thunberg’s latest climate protest?

Good On You’s reputable fashion rating system gives them a paltry 2 out of 5, or “Not Good Enough.”

Other whistleblowers online accuse them of using the idea of sustainability as a trend or an aesthetic (in other words, greenwashing) without meaningful action behind it to make a significant improvement of environmental damage and worker’s rights.

With 100% of their factories located in China where human rights abuses are notorious for garment workers and environmental laws are regularly skirted, we really have to wonder.

Let’s unbutton our way through the facts about this uber-trendy ladies label to discover the truth behind Princess Polly.


2. Princess Polly Controversies

Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by andreypopov #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Image by andreypopov

While Princess Polly fortunately has fewer tongue-wagging headlines than fast-fashion competitors like Dolls Kill, they’re not immune to scandal.

The following is a roundup of controversies worth looking at when we’re gauging Princess Polly ethics.

Data Breach

In 2019, the fashion e-tailer endured a data breach that exposed customers’ personal and payment details to an “unidentified third party”.

Besides personal payment details, the attackers would have been able to also access billing and shipping name, address, email and phone number, date of birth, usernames, and passwords.

And while co-founder and co-CEO Wez Bryett later assured shoppers that their site is now secure, their security measures remain worrisome to many shoppers.

Ripped-Off Merch

City Beach, an Aussie retailer part of the Princess Polly brand portfolio, was busted in 2022 for buying clothes from Shein, sewing in a new tag, and jacking up the price threefold.

TikTok user @smashhoe posted a video to show some of the Shein pieces on the rack in-store.

She wrote:

“Hot girl fact: City Beach purchases their clothes from Shein and then resells it for about x3 the price under their home brand MRKT.”

“We have to cut the Shein tags off items if they’re dumb enough to leave it on.”

Another person replied: “Can confirm this is true, I worked in their warehouse about 8 years ago and it was happening then.”

We’re not sure what came of this discovery, if Shein sued, or if PP and City Beach ever even apologized or vowed to discontinue this highly unethical practice. 

Inappropriate Influencer

Popular Tik-Toker and Princess Polly influencer Emma Claiir was a beloved PP brand ambassador, until she went on the Aussie podcast ‘Simply Chaotic’ and laughed about accidentally killing two cats as a child. 

The revelation generated huge backlash online. 

Princess Polly immediately cut all ties with the influencer to distance themselves from the controversy. 

PP’s official statement said that their brand “has a zero-tolerance stance on any form of animal abuse”

Which sounds all good except the brand still uses leather… more on that soon. 

Quality Issues

As with most fast fashion brands, you might be wondering, “Is Princess Polly good quality?”

Given that their garments sell for far beyond pocket-change prices, one would expect a certain level of quality when prices align with higher end and actually sustainable labels. 

But according to numerous online reviews, PP’s product quality is scandalously hit or miss, with numerous reports of customers receiving poor customer service, poor quality or damaged merchandise, and little regard from the brand.

Your seams are falling apart? Sew what?

In one video, a Youtuber unveils her nearly $100 PP pants that arrived with a broken zipper. 

Another number of reviewers posted about how packages arrived with missing items, which PP did nothing about.

One of the most common hallmarks of fast fashion is cheap, rushed production leading to poorly constructed garments often made of synthetic materials.

Greenwashing Bust

Famous fashion influencer @sophiaxverde called out Princess Polly (along with H&M and others) in a viral Tik Tok video for their fast fashion greenwashing. 

She points out how these brands create small lines of “eco-conscious” clothing that they market heavily to serve more as a distraction from the horrors of fast fashion than meaningful change in an extremely exploitative industry.

Other social media users have also taken to calling them out online for their greenwashing, along with teaching fellow Gen Z peers how to watch out for inauthentic marketing of faux-sustainable apparel.


3. Is Princess Polly Ethical?

Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by patamaporn umnahanant #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Image by patamaporn umnahanant

Is Princess Polly a good brand from an ethical standpoint?

Plain and simple, Princess Polly’s ethics aren’t so plain and simple. 

While the brand has made impressive strides recently and features a sustainability webpage, ethics webpage, sustainability glossary, sustainability snapshot, environment webpage, lower impact webpage, sustainability-centered mission statement, AND a community webpage (whew!), all of this transparency raises almost as many questions as it seeks to answer.

Especially since the brand creates such a sustainability rhetoric, yet chooses to invest in zero reputable sustainability certifications (think: GOTS, B Corp, Fair Trade, or BCI) to prove it.

Let’s unpack Princess Polly’s ethical baggage.

Workers Rights

Since Good on You’s last report with 2 out of 5 for labor conditions, Princess Polly has achieved tremendous progress toward more ethical manufacturing practices. 

This includes a Human Rights Policy, their third published Modern Slavery Statement, a zero forced labor and child labor policy, and assurance that all of their Tier 1/ Tier 2 suppliers are fully audited through SEDEX, to ensure factories meet safety and payment standards.

They say they support factory management to train workers, and now focus on women’s empowerment along their supply chain through a partnership with HERproject to run the HERhealth program.

It runs for 10 months in 25 of their 71 factories to educate women about physical and mental health for their overall well-being. They plan to expand it to 100% of Princess Polly’s factories by 2025.

Additionally, they employ 57% women in their factories, and 34% of managers and supervisors are female. Not perfect, but it’s a start.

They also provide a roadmap for continual improvement, stating by 2024, they will personally visit 150 sites across all tiers of their supply chain to ensure workers are treated fairly, and by 2024, that they will empower 3000 women in their supply chain “communities” with work and life-skills workshops and training.

They will ensure an effective grievance mechanism so workers’ voices are heard by 2025, which is great but also admits that they currently lack one. 

We still can’t confirm they 100% pay a living wage or provide fair working hours. 

Supply Chain

Where are Princess Polly clothes made? 

Alongside some factories in Mexico, mostly China, one of the most notorious fast fashion manufacturing hubs for concealed supply chain issues like forced labor, child labor, meager wages, and unsafe conditions. 

That said, Princess Polly states they are committed to traceable, ethical supply chains:

“We have built long-lasting, strong relationships with our suppliers, based mostly in China, for over 10 years. Princess Polly works with 71 tier one factories and over 6,100 workers. 66 factories and 3,800 workers are based in China, 4 factories and 700 workers are based in India, and 1 factory and 1600 workers are based in Mexico. For transparency, we publish our factory list.

“Our factories are able to subcontract non-functional processes to other factories. This approved subcontracting, such as printing graphics onto tops and gold plating our jewelry, make up our tier two suppliers. In 2022, we traced 100% of our tier two supply chain, and are now working to risk assess each site.

“We do not outsource to other manufacturers where we can’t be sure our ethical standards are upheld, and we also have a strict ‘no order subcontracting’ policy for our suppliers, meaning they can’t send our orders to different factories which have not been verified.”

They use Elevate, an industry leading independent assessment specialist, to complete their manufacturing audits for SEDEX. 

For any factory to start working with them, they must pass an ethical auditing process, and commit to ongoing audits with Elevate every one to two years. 

They also say the Princess Polly team regularly visits factories.

However, many of PP’s claims still lack evidence and three tiers of their supply chain have yet to be properly risk assessed or remediated.

Beyond that, they still need the right to collective bargaining or the right to grievances across all of its factories. Currently only ten have this, and with most of their production pipeline in China, potential sweatshops are a concern. 

Princess Polly appears to have a better ethics rating than most fast fashion brands, but we also acknowledge they have a ways to go to ensure 100% ethically-made clothes. 

Animal Welfare

Good on You gives Princess Polly’s animal welfare rating a 4 out of 5, and we agree it’s quite satisfactory. 

They’re a Fur Free Retailer and offer an animal welfare policy with the global organization Four Paws, plus they apply the Five Freedoms of animal welfare from the Farm Animal Welfare Council.

But still, 1% of its products feature leather or non-mulesed wool, which they say are sourced from responsible suppliers, although we want more evidence.

Fortunately, PP bans animal testing and any exotic furs. 

They also sold a Vegan Edit range that featured PETA-approved garment, and vow by the end of 2024 to become a 100% vegan brand. (And we hope they get certified to back their claims!)


4. Is Princess Polly Sustainable?

Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by Princess Polly #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Image by Princess Polly

Princess Polly is confusing in the sustainability category, since they make all sorts of environmental commitments while continuing rapid mass manufacturing and supporting influencer hauls that promote overconsumption. 

While they published their first sustainability report in 2021, we haven’t been able to find another for subsequent years. 

They say their fashion is “on demand” to curb overstock, and yet they have constant clearance sales implying they produce way too much stock. 

With the alarming amount they produce, it’s hard to take sustainability initiatives seriously when they seem more like a marketing angle toward Gen Z kids coming of age in a well-publicized climate crisis. 

Materials

Princess Polly Lower Impact is the name of their more eco-friendly range that uses materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester. 

With the intent to sell college-age affordable “sustainable” clothing, the brand now uses Lower Impact materials in 30% of its products. Currently that is almost two thousand out of nearly seven thousand items.

By 2025, 60% of PP will be a part of Lower Impact, which is great news. 

That said, items in the line aren’t certified by a reputable scheme, clothes only require 50% “sustainable” materials, and most of the line uses recycled synthetics, which only contribute to our planet’s very alarming microplastics crisis. 

Moreover, countless reviews online criticize Princess Polly quality for being so poor. Durability is a crucial benchmark of sustainability. 

That said, it’s all a stiletto swagger in the right direction and much less greenwash-y than their previous “Earth Club” range, which covered only a tiny fraction of their huge inventory. 

Manufacturing Impact & Carbon Footprint 

Princess Polly has joined the UN Global Compact to commit to their sustainable development goals, including reducing their emissions, but they’ve yet to provide the receipts that they reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chain.

In 2020, they measured their baseline emissions to be 87,940 metric tons of COequivalent, but have not updated this measurement in the four years since.

They state 60% of their global waste in December of 2022 was diverted from landfill or repurposed into something better, but we are waiting on transparent information that maps out its textile waste management plan or actions towards treatment of toxic chemical wastewater.

We’d also like to see them integrate circularity into their plans and further consider end-of-life for their products, not to mention reduce the sheer volume of daily and weekly merch drops.

They say the brand will be entirely carbon neutral by 2030 and that their operations will be zero waste by 2025, which sounds highly ambitious.

As far as packaging and shipping goes, in 2022, they lessened their transport CO2 emissions by 41% by increasing sea shipment and using better transportation options.

Princess Polly packaging uses 100% recycled content plastic packaging, which is okay, but we’d prefer something biodegradable or compostable.


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Final Thoughts On Princess Polly Sustainability & Ethics

Princess Polly is at a catwalk-crossroads, with two very different goals in conflict. 

On the one hand, they’re an app-based ultra fast fashion brand with constant fresh drops, overwhelmingly plastic clothes, stock clearance, influencer hauls, speedy delivery, and a rapidly moving cycle with constant pop-up ads and reminders to buy more from them.

On the other hand, they seem legitimately committed to becoming a better, more ethical and sustainable brand. 

But have they ever considered maybe just making a bit less? Or maybe a bit better quality? 

Time will tell how this popular brand fares, but for now we’re going to say take a pause on Princess Polly purchasing if you can… or maybe try thrift flips!

This planet has enough cute clothes already. 

Because, really… Can you honestly be a hotfooted fashion brand that releases a thousand new and cheap styles weekly and still claim sustainability?

The next time your girlies are gathered around the table ready for the next PP drop, please pass along this article and help spread some sustainable fashion facts.

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Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by Princess Polly #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle
Is Princess Polly Fast Fashion? Image by asphotowed #isprincesspollyfastfashion #isprincesspollyethical #princesspollysustainability #isprincesspollyagoodbrand #princesspollyethics #sustainablejungle

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