Opinion — Kourtney’s collaboration with Boohoo deserves criticism
Reality stars and fast fashion are no strangers to one another.
Despite strides to unpick this deep-seated relationship, and a growing disdain for fast fashion amongst young consumers, Gen Z are still addicted to cheap, perpetually new wardrobes. And influencers remain walking advertisements for polyester knock-offs.
Reality TV royalty, the Kardashians, have perhaps the most authority in pushing the fast fashion needle.
Never short of a new business venture, sisters Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall, and Kylie have each had their fair share of controversies — the most recent of which have centred around a lack of environmental consciousness.
But mere days after she was accused of violating California’s drought restrictions, Kourtney Kardashian Barker has announced her latest collaboration with…Boohoo.
Well, I say ‘announced’, but Kourtney herself has remained suspiciously quiet amid news of her role as Boohoo’s ‘Sustainability Ambassador’. Which might have something to do with all the slack she’s received for it.
A statement released by Barker this week outlined the star’s reasoning for joining forces with a grossly controversial brand. As it turns out, she was fully aware of Boohoo’s misgivings, and went ahead with the deal anyway.
‘When Boohoo first approached me to collaborate on a line, I was concerned about the effects of the fast-fashion industry on our planet. But Boohoo responded with excitement and a desire to incorporate sustainable practices into our line’.
Not only is Kourtney’s optimism about the partnership — despite awareness of fast-fashion’s dangers — decidedly worse than blatant ignorance. It’s cut and dry green-washing.
Barker has made a name for herself outside of reality TV with her brand POOSH. The blog-come-website-come-eshop markets itself as a health and wellness bible for the wealthy and the beautiful, a sort of spin-off from Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial company Goop.
Think avocado face masks, tea with complex names and dubious health benefits, and garishly overpriced sex toys that make your private parts 10 years younger.
This ‘green lifestyle’ has become Kourtney’s personal brand in recent years. She openly rejects plastic toys for her children, artificial ingredients in her food, and chemicals in her skincare.
But there’s a running theme to Barker’s ‘ethical lifestyle’: it only serves to benefit her. Like her sisters, Kourtney still flies in private jets — joining the 1% of people who cause 50% of global aviation emissions.
Barker’s latest business venture with Boohoo is just another nail in her sustainable coffin. A crack in the polished mask of health and wellness she has carefully cultivated.
Her response to critics has revealed details of the collaboration, a two-part capsule collection using vintage pieces and recycled fabrics. The 45-piece line will range in price from £5 to £75.
But regardless of how sustainable Barker’s own collection will be, working with Boohoo — a brand that has faced consistent allegations of modern slavery — can never do any real ‘good’.
Fast fashion is, by its very nature, unsustainable. It promotes extensive waste, underpaid labour, and cataclysmic levels of carbon emission by using cheap, plastic-based fabrics.
‘A sustainability ambassador for Boohoo is like ethics advisor for the Conservatives’ one netizen tweeted in response to Barker’s new role, highlighting the irony of Boohoo’s baseless green washing.
Being complicit in Boohoo’s production of even more product — sustainable or otherwise — encourages the growth of a gravely dangerous company, and drives demand for fast-fashion across the globe.
With all her power and influence, Barker’s decision to capitalise on a brand that fundamentally goes against everything her ‘green’ lifestyle purportedly stands for ultimately demonstrates the rotten core of her personal marketing.
Not only does it reveal her public image as a lie, it spreads the message that a ‘clean’, ‘ethical’ lifestyle is only for the rich and famous.
That an organically sourced, carbon-zero matcha latte is only glamorous on a private jet. That vegan alternatives are aspirational only when you’re lounging in a walk-in closet, filled with a mountain of unworn clothes, in a mansion filled with unlived-in rooms, in a yard filled with unregulated sprinklers.
She may claim to not ‘have all the answers’ to the environmental crisis, but Barker certainly knows enough to have built a self-image based on fighting it.
By taking on the role of Boohoo’s sustainability ambassador, however, Kourtney’s proven that it was never about the planet at all. Rather how refined and perfect she could make her own life, at the expense of anyone else’s.