Deep Dive into House of Sunny’s Ethics and Sustainability

June 9, 2021

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House of Sunny is a UK brand with colorful “avant basic” clothing (think funky prints and trendy silhouettes). You’ve likely seen their iconic cardigans or dresses on the feeds of your favorite slow fashion creators. 

But is House of Sunny actually sustainable or ethical? It’s complicated. No brand is perfect, but House of Sunny misses the mark on some pretty important measures. Here’s my evaluation of the brand.

Note: keep in mind that this is based on the information House of Sunny has currently released on their social responsibility page. Brands are constantly improving, so this evaluation may not be up-to-date, and may change over time.

Is House of Sunny Sustainable or Ethical?

Environmental Measures

House of Sunny has some sustainability measures. They produce 2 seasons a year, are committed to making quality items that last, and have some pieces on pre-order.

They also significantly reduce water and chemical waste in their denim, stating that their e-flow technolgy “uses 800 LT per 100 garments of water whereas traditional methods uses 8.000 LT. per 100 garments.” I was unable to find much information about e-flow technology or verify these numbers, however.

House of Sunny states that they try to reduce waste by selling samples or unsold stock on Depop. That said, I’ve heard several complaints that their Depop is priced at a similar point for products with flaws. The brand also says they donate textile scraps when possible, but it’s unclear where the scraps or samples are going, and how much of it is actually diverted. House of Sunny says “zero waste is our goal,” but doesn’t have an actual target date or plan to get there.

Unfortunately, their fabrics aren’t that sustainable either—I see a lot of traditional viscose, which is toxic to produce. They also use both virgin and recycled synthetics, but there’s no literacy around microplastic pollution.

Labor Ethics

Ethics-wise, House of Sunny only works with factories that meet their social responsibility standards and can provide “BSCI, SMETA and SEDEX certificates every year.” This is a little confusing, as BSCI and SMETA aren’t certifications but auditing methodologies.

It would be helpful to know how their suppliers have performed in those audits, and what exactly the brand’s standards are. Many brands are at least able to provide a code of conduct or more transparency about their workers and wages, which House of Sunny has not done.

They state: “We currently work with 6 suppliers based in Turkey, India and China. All our products are made by people who work in safe environments and receive fair pay. We make sure our key policies are translated down the supply chain.”

It is unclear how they ensure that those workers receive fair pay and work in safe conditions. It’s also unclear if they trace their supply chain beyond those 6 suppliers.

Social Responsibility

House of Sunny doesn’t have any social initiatives, and they don’t talk about garment worker rights or other social justice issues related to fashion (at least not that I could find on their social media platforms).

Circularity

The brand doesn’t have am in-house take-back program or recycling program.

Size Inclusivity and Adaptive Options

Sizes range from a UK 6-16, which is about an XS to XXL in US sizing. Not all of their styles go up to size 16, however, and several stop at size 14 (XL). Size inclusivity is unfortunately a big problem among slow fashion brands, and I hope to see this improve.

There are no adaptive options for people with disabilities either.

Animal Welfare

House of Sunny is a vegan brand, so it does not use any animal products like leather or fur. Instead, it uses synthetic alternatives, which are unfortunately not very sustainable, though they acknowledge that synthetic alternatives are “not without concern.”

Despite being a vegan brand, they have some images of models riding dolphins on their Instagram, which I find really strange. The images are photoshopped, but it’s strange for a vegan brand to promote the idea of dolphins in captivity. It almost feels like they decided to be “vegan” so they could justify using cheaper synthetic materials, even though there are plant-derived alternatives.

Diversity

House of Sunny doesn’t provide any information about corporate diversity, though they do generally employ models from different ethnic backgounds. Keep in mind that their clothing doesn’t fit a super diverse range of people though.

The Bottom Line + Alternatives

Ultimately, I feel pretty iffy about House of Sunny, and would not feel comfortable shopping there myself. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for a brand that’s starting out, but I’d like to see more information on ethics and more eco-friendly fabrics to consider them a sustainable brand.

If you’re looking for similar brands that have a greater commitment to sustainability and ethics, most avant basic brands are unfortunately not very transparent. Luckily, the avant basic aesthetic is highly thriftable. Look for colorful knits, wild patterns, flared pants, and shift dresses.

Check out thrift stores near you, or these secondhand apps:

Otherwise, here some brands with more transparency and sustainability measures that are similarly colorful and bold. Some of these are affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you. Rest assured that I don’t become an affiliate until I’ve thoroughly vetted a brand.

Dazey LA—colorful clothing and fun prints made from organic and recyled materials. Workers are paid a living wage in the final stage of production. 

Mayamiko—bold pieces made from locally-sourced fabric in Malawi by artisans who are paid a living wage. (use code LILYFANG10 for 10% off).

Lucy & Yak—vibrant prints and quirky pieces made from organic cotton by workers who are paid a living wage. They even have a directory of their garment workers and some items indicate the worker who make them on the tags.

See my sustainable brand directory for more recs and learn how to evaluate the ethics and sustainability of fashion brands yourself.

2 Comments

  • Nina | Lemons and Luggage June 10, 2021 at 5:42 am

    I had never heard of this brand before because it’s not my style, but, as always, I like your analysis. The dolphin thing is super strange, and I think you’re right. “Vegan” is such a trend now that even people who don’t actually follow vegan ethics might use the label because it will attract a certain market and makes it easier to get away with other sketchy practices.

  • Lily June 11, 2021 at 9:47 am

    I’m glad you liked the analysis! Yeah, the dolphin thing doesn’t seem well thought-out at best, and in that case, there must be a lack of emphasis on vegan ethics and values since the message didn’t get across to their marketing team.

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    I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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