While the demise of Missguided may seem like a win for sustainability advocates, things could get a whole lot worse
Loathe to use a Twitter aphorism but Missguided may have just girlbossed too close to the sun. The fast fashion beast, known for its £1 bikinis, plastic clothes, allegedly-tortuous working conditions, and a universally-panned documentary series, is reportedly teetering on the brink of collapse. Police were called into the brand’s Manchester headquarters earlier this week after suppliers gathered outside its doors, demanding millions of pounds in overdue payments, with three factories at risk of going bankrupt.
Now thought to be just days away from calling in administrators, Missguided was issued a winding-up petition on May 10 from the Manchester-based clothing supplier JKS Fashions, and creditors are demanding compulsory liquidation – which is to say, unless the label can find a buyer, it may be taking its final, drawn-out breath. Since the news was made public by the i newspaper this morning, representatives from the brand have said, “Missguided is aware of the action being taken by certain creditors of the company in recent days, and is working urgently to address this.”
Though this is somewhat of a win for its suppliers, the human cost is likely to be debilitating, with 400 Missguided employees facing redundancy – not to mention the suppliers’ garment workers, who will be at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to getting money during a bankruptcy. And while sustainability advocates seem to be putting the kombucha on ice, the death of Missguided will not kill the fast fashion industry. In fact, things could get a whole lot worse, with JD and Shein pegged as potential buyers. Last autumn, the brand was saved when retail investor Alteri stepped in to help, announcing major job cuts in December as part of a turnaround plan, as founder Nitin Passi stepped down as chief executive. Now, members of staff have been told not to answer phones and a Manchester court is set to hear the trial in July.
So while Missguided appeared to be facing serious arrears, it continued to stage big-ticket fashion shows and offer multimillion pound deals to ex-Love Island stars. Won’t someone think of the influencers?! Rather, what this underscores is the importance of legislation to help protect those working in the apparel industry. As Dominique Muller, policy lead at the fashion ethics campaign group Labour Behind the Label, said, “the lack of communication from Missguided is an appalling indictment on the way small suppliers and their workers are treated by large companies. These clothes have now been sold and the proceeds pocketed – leaving workers out of pocket. The UK government is resisting legislation that would ensure brands and retailers have legal and financial responsibility for workers in their supply chain. This needs to change.”