VS named ‘villain’ in toxic clothing study

Victoria’s Secret is one of a series of companies that have been named and shamed in a new report by Greenpeace International, which recently commissioned an investigation to delve even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion.

According to the Toxic Threads: Big Fashion Stitch Up report, a total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012, in 29 countries and regions worldwide, from authorised retailers.

NPEs were found in 89 garments (just under two thirds of those tested), showing little difference from the results of the previous investigation into the presence of these substances in sports clothing that was conducted in 2011.

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In addition, the presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested.

Four Victoria’s Secret products were tested. Two of these were made in mainland China and sold in the Netherlands, one was sold in mainland China and sold in Canada, and one was made in Sri Lanka and sold in the US.

Traces of NPEs were discovered in the Victoria’s Secret products sold in both the US and Canada. An unacceptable concentration of phthalates was also discovered in the US product, which was the only item from Victoria’s Secret to be tested for the chemical.

Victoria’s Secret was the only lingerie retailer investigated and, while it was by no means the biggest culprit, was tarred with the ‘villain’ brush and criticised for its lack of a sustainable policy.

The report stated: “Laggards are those brands with chemicals management policies and programmes that have yet to make a credible commitment to Zero Discharges. For example, Zara, PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger), Mango, and GAP.

“Villains are those brands with little or no policy or programme for chemicals management, and no commitment to Zero Discharges. For example, Esprit, Metersbonwe, Victoria’s Secret. These brands need to make a publicly credible Detox commitment that transforms their approach to hazardous chemicals."

The report then went on to criticise Victoria’s Secret lack of transparency, stating: “Some of the other brands in this study, such as Esprit, Metersbonwe and Victoria’s Secret, are either completely non-transparent to their customers, or irresponsibly show no public awareness of the issue of hazardous chemical use in their products and their supply chain, as there is no publicly available information on their websites about RSL lists or relevant policies.”

On its website, Victoria’s Secret has written: “We believe in doing what is right in our industry, our community and our world. This includes conducting our business in an environmentally responsible way. To this end, we are always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact.”

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