SKIMS. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

What is SKIMS?

For those who aren’t aware, SKIMS was co-founded in 2019 by fashion mogul Kim Kardashian and marketing genius Jens Grede (he also co-founded Frame, Good American, and Brady). The SKIMS brands focuses on providing shapewear, underwear, and loungewear for a diverse set of body types. The brand also launched a children’s clothing line in November of 2020, which features cozy kid’s sets matching those in their core collection.

It’s easy to see that SKIMS has gained popularity in the fashion community, but the actual numbers are a bit shocking. In April 2021, SKIMS pushed Kim Kardashian’s net worth to $1.8 billion and allowed her to level up to billionaire status. $600 million of that is credited to the sales of her SKIMS shapewear line, alone. So, is SKIMS worthy of your hard-earned cash? Read on and then decide for yourself.

Every Body is Included

The SKIMS tagline reads, “Solutions for Every Body,” and I won’t lie, SKIMS has an impressive shade range consisting of nine shades and inclusive sizing going from XXS to XXXXXL. That’s great considering most clothing companies struggle to even carry anything above a size 14. The models on their their site range in sizes and Kim herself stated that, “Diversity and inclusivity are in our brand DNA. We started Skims with those two elements being front of mind and today they continue to be the driving forces behind ensuring that what we create is for everyone and everybody.” Overall, I love to see a brand not only inclusive of size, but of various skin tones, and SKIMS does this very well. Inclusivity is at the forefront of the SKIMS brand, and hopefully other companies will soon follow suit.

Sustainability. Who? What? Where?

Now, while while the sizing and shade range of SKIMS is nothing short of a feat in the clothing industry, their sustainability efforts—well, not so much. Upon taking a look at the SKIMS page, I found nothing relevant to sustainability on their page. It wasn’t until I decided to take a look at the FAQ’s that I saw, “How is SKIMS practicing sustainability?” The answer: “At SKIMS, we are committed to the highest ethical standards and legal compliance in all aspects of our business and product supply chain. We only work with suppliers and vendors who we believe in and share our commitment to sustainability, accountability and transparency.” Nowhere does it mention what these “highest ethical standards and legal compliance” aspects are or where to find them. According to Good On You, a world-leading source of trusted brand ratings, articles and expertise on ethical and sustainable fashion, SKIMS receives the overall rating of “we avoid” on a scale from 1(We Avoid) to 5(Great). That commitment to sustainability they mention—nowhere to be found.

In addition, while SKIMS does advertise that their packaging is biodegradable, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can toss them into the recycling or even add them to your home garden (they’re made only for industrial composting facilities!). This article by Water Docs talks about the truth behind biodegradable and compostable bags. Not all compostable and biodegradable products are created equal and, therefore, won’t degrade equally. The truth is, we just don’t have enough information about the makeup of the so-called compostable bags that SKIMS uses to individually package their items.

The vast majority of consumers just don’t know enough about how composting works or aren’t willing to put in the effort needed to make sure compostable products end up in the correct place. Plus, if these “compostable” bags end up mixed with the recycling, they will likely degrade in the washing process. This can then contaminate the recycling process and inadvertently create more waste.

The point is, SKIMS needs to release a lot more information on what they are doing in terms of sustainability. Come on, Kim! I know you can use those $3.2 billion dollars to create something better-suited for the earth!

What do SKIMS and ASOS Have in Common?

Let me precede the following information with a little insight on my journey in writing this article. I had a LOT of trouble finding any sort of information about SKIMS suppliers, factories, etc. They have divulged no information about their supply chain practices to the public or to organizations that advocate for worker’s rights. Let’s just say, this is definitely not a good sign.

While doing some digging into the manufacturing of SKIMS products, I came across U.S. Customs Records for SKIMS. From those reports, I could see that shipments were coming in from HENGLITAI COMPANY LTD., CHERRY INTIMATE LTD., and L.H.P. HONG KONG CO., LTD.. Henglitai Company Ltd., in particular, was listed as being a top trading partner of GUESS, Urban Outfitters, and Hot Topic. The top trader for Cherry Intimate Ltd, on the other hand, is ASOS. What do all of these companies have in common? They all qualify as fast fashion. The Fashion Transparency Index gives each of these companies a rating of 11-20% (ASOS gets a 21-30%, which is still very poor). A low rating means that each of these companies publishes little information on supplier policies and no information regarding forced labor, gender equality, or freedom of association.

What does this say about SKIMS? The shapewear company likely falls under the same umbrella of fast fashion, especially given that it does not disclose any policies to ensure the payment of living wages in its supply chain. SKIMS clothing may even be produced in the same warehouses as popular fast fashion brands, yet marketed as high-end and sold at a high-end price. In the end, just because a product is marketed as high-end, does not mean their garment workers are getting paid any more than any other fast fashion garment worker.

(If you want to learn a little more about popular fast fashion brands to avoid, take a look at my post listing the 10 Most Popular Fast Fashion Brands Today)

Final Thoughts

Although SKIMS has done a great deal to promote body inclusivity and diversity, there is more to be done on their end (starting with being transparent about their supply chain) in order for them to affirm that they are practicing sustainability and that their workers are paid fair wages. We need to see evidence of certifications and policies in place for SKIMS to claim that their, “warehouse and factory workers are ensured fair wages, safe environments and healthy working conditions,” as is stated on the SKIMS website. As is seen from recent product shipments, their garments could be coming from the same factory that manufactures ASOS products (a clear fast fashion contributor) given that they share a supplier. Sorry not sorry, SKIMS. There is just no information out there to ensure that you practice what you preach.


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