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Is Burton an ethical and sustainable fashion brand?

The Good Shopping Guide gives Burton, an online fast fashion brand owned by Boohoo Group PLC, a low ethical rating. Unfortunately, this brand receives a Good Shopping Guide Ethical Score in our Ethical Fashion Retailers Ratings Table and has not yet met our minimum benchmark. This brand has several areas to improve upon before it would likely qualify for our Ethical Accreditation.

For more information about fast fashion and the issues with the Fashion sector, see our article on Ethical Fashion.

In what areas does Burton perform poorly for its ethics and sustainability? 

As a fast fashion brand, Burton scores particularly badly in most of our research criteria for the Environment, Animals and People.

Products from several of Boohoo Group’s subsidiaries (eg. Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Nasty Gal) are advertised as being made entirely of organic cotton, however, there is no certification to back this up. Certification ensures that cotton, one of the “dirtiest crops,” was not grown in a way that endangered farmers, local ecosystems, animals, or cotton producers. Burton was therefore given a very low score for our Organic criteria.

PETA has also criticised parent, company, Boohoo for its use of wool in its products. Following this criticism, Boohoo came out to the media claiming that it would not sell wool products in its online stores. However, this article also attests that Boohoo revoked this promise after pushback from sheep farmers. Vegans may want to avoid Burton, as its products might still contain wool.

Burton’s track record with animal welfare infringements doesn’t improve much from there; parent company, Boohoo received criticism for marketing actual fur—likely from a rabbit—as faux fur. Not only is this killing animals merely for fashion, but it’s also lying to customers. This is another reason why vegans, vegetarians or anyone concerned about animal welfare may want to give this brand a miss until it has improved its standards and begun to move towards our Ethical Accreditation! For these incidents, Burton has not received a good score from us for its Animal Welfare policies.

According to a 2020 report by Labour Behind the Label, Leicester (UK) garment workers producing exclusively for the Boohoo Group were paid as little as £3.50 per hour, far less than the UK minimum wage at the time of £8.72 for workers aged 25 and above. The business is also accused of dealing with factories that continued to run throughout the UK’s shutdown, placing staff at risk of Covid-19, and blatantly intimidating vulnerable workers.

Another Human Rights violation is discussed in The COVID Fashion Report, a version of Baptist World Aid Australia’s Ethical Fashion Report, which was published in 2020. The study is organised around six COVID Fashion Commitments, which demand that businesses provide evidence of the procedures and actions they are taking to safeguard and support their most vulnerable supply chain employees. Burton failed to demonstrate that it was following any of the COVID Fashion Commitments through its actions.

In a report released by the Environmental Audit Committee, Burton and Missguided were identified as two of the UK’s least environmentally friendly fashion companies (EAC). The EAC wrote to 16 British retailers in November 2018 and requested that they provide documentation outlining the steps they are taking to lessen the environmental effect of the clothing they sell. The audit also discovered that neither of the two brands mentioned above had ratified the Action, Collaboration, Transformation labour rights pact, which aims to ensure that all garment workers receive a livable wage.

In what areas does Burton perform well?

Though the aims of the Burton Annual Report 2020 are ambiguous, Burton’s 2021 Sustainability Plan does improve somewhat by including a few objectives; these goals focus on packaging reduction and reducing operational carbon emissions by an average of 4.2% every year. However, with the Net Zero 2050 deadline, Burton will have to stick closely to that reduction percentage if they are to meet this global target.

Burton also has a thorough Code of Conduct; this kind of documentation means that both consumers and investors can hold companies to account, and see which brands are planning for a sustainable future. See Burton’s Code of Conduct here.

How can the Burton brand improve its Ethical Rating?

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to Burton. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, Burton has several issues to deal with, including its poor animal welfare standards and treatment of workers in its supply chain.

If your fashion brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power


  • Better Cotton Initiative


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


  • Other Criticisms+


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