Is YesStyle Fast Fashion?
YesStyle is a fashion and beauty marketplace based in Asia whose stated mission is to “empower and inspire”.
But how does the company fare when it comes to empowering and inspiring our environment, our communities, and our garment workers?
But is YesStyle good like they claim to be, or is YesStyle fast fashion?
Can we give a ‘yes’ to YesStyle’s sustainability and ethics like they give a ‘yes’ to their style?
Spoiler alert: in spite of YesStyle’s efforts, we’re sensing a whole lot of greenwashing and a whole lack of transparency to really support claims that this brand cares about people, planet, and animal welfare.
Without further ado, let’s strut the catwalk to get to the (bell)bottom of the question: is YesStyle legit?
1. Uncovering Why YesStyle Is Fast Fashion
It’s far from a breaking fast fashion fact that the fast fashion business model is a significant contributor to urgent global issues like modern slavery, textile waste, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, unrealistic beauty standards, a damaging culture of disposable excess, and more.
So, can YesStyle be trusted to help mitigate the many issues around fast fashion?
Founded in 1998 but launched as YesStyle in 2006 by Joshua Lau and his wife Priscilla Chu out of their San Francisco basement, the now Hong Kong-based YesStyle offers hundreds of thousands of beauty products, funky-fresh K-pop idol-inspired fashions, and festival-going gear.
Today, YesStyle is ranked #95 among top fashion companies in the US, with $450 million in global sales in 2022.
Still, it positions itself as a popular purveyor of things like “clean beauty,” “organic beauty,” and “cruelty-free beauty,” along with “eco-friendly wear”.
But when it comes down to it, is YesStyle a good brand?
Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for a brand that chooses to proudly announce “thousands of new styles added daily!” without providing any traceable or transparent information about their supply chain.
On the environmental front, YesStyle likewise provides no greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and provides no reporting on steps it is taking to reduce its harmful environmental impact
If you’re using “green” features to sell, then you have a responsibility to demonstrate other facets of sustainable fashion with things like a consumer-facing annual report with measurable and traceable environmental and ethical targets.
To top it all off, just about all the products for sale on YesStyle are sold for pocket-change prices, which is why many shoppers are asking, “Is YesStyle more ethical than Shein?”
While YesStyle’s business approach lacks the fashion economy’s disruption to the degree of Shein, YesStyle sadly warrants the comparison since both brands sell hundreds of thousands of items daily, largely made in factories of developing countries out of subpar synthetic materials.
That said, is YesStyle bad?
Well, without any traceable and public information, we’re sadly left to assume the worst, but let’s jump in to see.
2. YesStyle Controversies
That’s likely because they cloak their policies and practices in such a veil of secrecy that we simply have no idea if they use Uyghur forced labor (à la Shein), for example, or whether or not their factories have a history of child labor..
The following is a YesStyle controversy round-up:
Fast fashion brands are commonly found guilty of this, and that doesn’t make it okay. Huge corporations have a responsibility to properly acquire permissions and to pay people for their ideas.
YesStyle was caught ripping off an identical dress by designer Maddie Duda, or @madeleyess on Instagram. With over nine thousand likes on her post, Maddie provides photographic evidence that the dress being sold by YesStyle is identical to her own.
According to Maddie, since YesStyle is headquartered outside the US, American copyrights laws don’t apply in the same manner, not to mention the prohibitively expensive legal fees involved to pursue legal action.
Design theft and intellectual property infringement aren’t just uncool and unethical, they’re a crime—despite the fact that most big brands get away with it like YesStyle did.
Is YesStyle’s marketplace business model guilty of drop-shipping?
Their customer service FAQ section states that all YesStyle products are genuine and sourced from reliable suppliers.
Beauty products hail directly from South Korea, sent to their Hong Kong warehouses, and then distributed globally as per online orders.
But customers aren’t so confident. One consumer review on TrustPilot suggests that YesStyle does not “own anything” and instead, they purchase products via other manufacturers, which results in “slow, unreliable, and very difficult to return” deliveries of items.
Drop-shipping means that while the retailer keeps certain products as stock, it also acts as the “middle man” for products coming from various manufacturers.
YesStyle seems to do both: they function as a direct-to-consumer store, and they drop-ship certain items.
Since the company lacks any transparency, we have no way to determine whether items “Made in Korea” are actually made in China under subpar standards, but sourced from South Korean suppliers who put a Korean stamp on them.
Customer Service Issues
Thanks to real time reports available online, we have transparency around customer service issues, which are aplenty for YesStyle.
On Sitejabber, they receive a paltry 2.89 out of 5 and on TrustPilot, just 2.1 out of 5.
Countless customers have complained about YesStyle’s slow delivery times in spite of their 21-day promise for certain items and just 7 days for products in stock.
While fast deliveries may keep fast fashion customers happy, air delivered packages means carbon-intensive shipping.
Then there is the issue of returns, which for many of these online marketplaces is more expensive to do than simply refunding an ill-fitting item destined for the landfill.
In the case of YesStyle, many customers report items arriving that are nothing like the photos and more like “hot garbage” than decent fashions.
Many customers even label YesStyle a “scam” since there are so many problems with fulfilling orders. Writes one reviewer:
“They keep the money and they don’t send out the product. They just said the product no longer exists, but why do you sell it on your page? I still haven’t received the product or refund after several issues to chase up with them. This is totally a scammer! Terrible website!”
3. YesStyle Ethical Issues
Is YesStyle ethical? Or does YesStyle exploit their workers? Does yesstyle use child labor?
These are the kinds of questions we hope to answer as we delve into YesStyle ethics.
#WhoMadeMyClothes is a social movement more powerful than ever, with millennial and Gen Z shoppers alike demanding to know who made their products, how, and where they come from.
Meanwhile, YesStyle discloses nothing about its supply chain or the supply chain of other brands it sells.
From what we could find, it even lacks a code of conduct for brands it collaborates with or sells.
As consumers, we have no idea if these labels are paying fair wages to workers or providing safe and decent working conditions for their garment workers.
We do know some of the clothing brands YesStyle sells work with Fair Trade-certified factories, but since you can’t shop filter for these on the site, it’s a bit like a needle in a haystack to find them.
Lack of transparency to this degree indicates they have a lot to hide.
Given that most of their garments and beauty products are made in China—where labor laws are notoriously wishy-washy and scandals around sweatshop labor, child labor, and forced labor are in abundance—we really have to wonder about the working conditions under which items are made and sold on the YesStyle platform.
While they haven’t been outright caught for a labor controversy (yet), you’re much safer to skip shopping from a fashion retailer that provides no details on their supply chain, sourcing, and labor.
For this reason, we’re going to suggest taking a pass to anyone asking “Is YesStyle ethical?”
Is YesStyle Cruelty-Free?
Another important tenet of fashion ethics is animal welfare.
YesStyle has no formal, forward-facing animal welfare policy, but they do retail a number of certified cruelty-free vegan brands.
And what about animal byproducts used for clothes?
Although most apparel they sell doesn’t feature leather, down, angora, exotic fur or skin, a number of garments feature silk and sheep’s wool.
By and large, both the silk and wool industries are notoriously harsh, with silkworms killed during the silk retrieval process, and the mishandling of sheep during shearing often resulting in their injury or even death.
Lastly, while YesStyle fans are addicted to this retailer’s massive cosmetic and skincare range, they never clarify whether or not these brands all avoid animal testing, nor does YesStyle have a stated policy around selling only cruelty-free.
4. YesStyle Sustainability Issues
Is YesStyle Sustainable? Is YesStyle bad for the environment?
In this section, we’re looking at YesStyle sustainability by way of environmental issues, fabrics and materials, manufacturing impact, and carbon footprint from packaging and shipping.
YesStyle not only positions itself as a eco-friendly company, but the marketplace also features its own in-house label, YS by YesStyle, which they claim uses organic cotton, recycled polyester, and other sustainable materials.
But without any legitimate sustainability certifications from third-party bodies like Ecocert, B Corp, OEKO-TEX, or GOTS to support their claims, we really have no idea if their products really are what they tout them as: environmentally friendly.
At the time of writing this article, the company featured hundreds upon hundreds of “eco-friendly” styles on their website, all for pocket change prices.
But to have an organic cotton t-shirt, like this one for example, where workers were paid right, cotton was ethically sourced, and manufacturing was done in an energy-efficient manner costs money.
Plain and simple, it is not possible to have a real organic cotton t-shirt sold for ten dollars. And chances are, whoever is selling it (cough YesStyle cough), is lying about what the t-shirt is really made from and the conditions under which it was made.
So, can YesStyle be trusted to tell us what’s truly each top?
Plus, the vast majority of their offerings are still made of synthetic or chemically-intensive semi-synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon, and rayon.
Their previously mentioned and heavily greenwashed eco-friendly line of trendy clothing only accounts for a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of items they sell.
Unsustainable fabrics are not only bad for the environment due to extractive, damaging fossil fuels and massive water waste, but they don’t biodegrade at their end of life and contribute greatly to microplastics poisoning our waterways and ultimately our food chains with tiny plastic particles that are bad for everyone’s health.
Given that YesStyle boasts on their site of “thousands of new styles added daily,” that’s a whole lot of virgin plastic they’re producing.
YesStyle Emissions & Carbon Commitments
As for YesStyle’s manufacturing environmental impact, it’s simply not possible to gauge when a brand lacks any transparency.
But based on knowledge of their elaborately packaged items and shipping from the furthest corners of China to far-flung countries of the Global North, it’s safe to infer that YesStyle has a massive carbon footprint thanks to manufacturing impacts, shipping, and packaging.
What sounds the alarm bells most is that the so-called “sustainable” brand touts ZERO future sustainability goals.
They offer no future plans around lowering supply chain greenhouse gas emissions or how they plan to incorporate more eco-friendly measures like biodegradable packaging or carbon offset shipping.
They also offer no resale platform for their items or any kind of ‘Repair or Recycle’ initiatives to tackle textile waste and the damaging end-of-life for these huge volumes of synthetic clothes.
With bargain basement prices for much of their marketplace’s wares, it’s simply not feasible for ethical and sustainable fashion to exist for so cheap.
So is YesStyle a fast fashion brand?
They tick all the trademarks of fast fashion and while YesStyle seems to know the importance of sustainability today, they only use it as a greenwashing token gesture for smooth marketing as opposed to a genuine commitment to using sustainable and ethical fashion practices.
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Final Thoughts On How Ethical Is YesStyle?
Plastic clothes and chemical-filled beauty products we have minimal information about sold at pocket change prices?
This is YesStyle—and YesStyle is 100% fast fashion.
While we’re never one to shame anyone for their choices, we hope to empower readers with the resources they do have to make better shopping choices for the planet and our collective conscience.
Help us get the word out about the importance of a more just and sustainable clothing industry by sharing this article with any fellow festies or K-pop fashionista fanatics you know.
Besides, if they really want to look like Blackpink there are plenty of sustainable streetwear brands out there offering more planet-friendly ‘Pink Venom’ vibes.