Is COS a Fast Fashion Brand? The COS Controversy

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

Launched in London in 2007, COS, an acronym for “Collection of Style,” emerges as a modern fashion brand under the expansive umbrella of the H&M Group, alongside renowned labels like H&M and & Other Stories. With a reputation for crafting wardrobe staples that exude timelessness and modernity, COS consistently emphasizes quality, simplicity, and functionality.

This approach begs the question: is COS a fast fashion brand? The brand’s ethos suggests a departure from fleeting trends, favoring enduring design and lasting appeal.

is cos a fast fashion brand

Is COS a Fast Fashion Brand?

If you are looking for affordable and stylish minimalist and contemporary clothing, you might have come across COS. COS is a British fashion retailer that is part of the H&M group, along with other brands such as & Other Stories, Monki, and Arket. COS stands for Collection of Style, and it aims to offer high-quality and timeless pieces that can last for seasons.

But is COS a fast fashion brand? And if so, what does that mean for the environment, the workers, and the animals involved in its production? This article will explore these questions and more and give you some tips on shopping ethically and sustainably.

What is Fast Fashion and Why is it Problematic?

Fast fashion is a term that describes the business model of producing and selling large quantities of cheap and trendy clothing at a rapid pace. Fast fashion brands often copy the latest styles from the runway or celebrities and offer them to consumers at low prices. This encourages people to buy more clothes and discard them quickly when they go out of fashion or wear out.

Fast fashion has a huge negative impact on the planet, the people, and the animals involved in its production. Some of the problems caused by fast fashion are:

  • It consumes many natural resources, such as water, land, and energy, and generates a lot of waste and pollution. For example, it takes about 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton t-shirt, and the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions.
  • It exploits the workers who make the clothes, often in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and pays them meager wages. Many of the workers are women and children who face discrimination, harassment, and violence. For example, in 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 garment workers and injured thousands more.
  • It harms the animals used for their fur, leather, wool, silk, or feathers, often cruelly. Many of the animals are killed, skinned, sheared, or plucked alive and suffer from diseases, injuries, and stress. For example, millions of rabbits are killed every year for their fur, and many sheep are mutilated for their wool.

How Does COS Compare to Other Fast Fashion Brands?

COS occupies a middle ground in the fashion industry, presenting both advantages and disadvantages. It doesn’t align with the extremes of fast fashion nor does it match the pinnacle of sustainable brands. COS represents a nuanced option for consumers, balancing style and responsibility.

COS and Sustainability

COS claims to be committed to sustainability and has some initiatives and policies that support this claim. For example, COS:

  • It uses sustainable and recycled materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lyocell, and aims to use 100% sustainably sourced or recycled materials by 2025.
  • It has set a science-based target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and becoming climate-positive by 2040.
  • It publishes detailed information about its supply chain and is rated 71-80% in the Fashion Transparency Index.
  • Is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Better Cotton Initiative, and the Fair Labor Association, and follows the Higg Index, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the Ethical Trading Initiative Code of Conduct.
  • It has a garment collecting program, where customers can donate unwanted clothes and receive a voucher in return, and a resale platform, where customers can buy and sell pre-owned COS items.

However, COS also has some areas where it can improve its sustainability performance. For example, COS:

  • It does not provide enough information about its environmental impacts, such as water consumption, waste generation, or chemical use, and needs clear targets or timelines to reduce them.
  • It does not provide enough information about its social impact, such as its workers’ wages, working conditions, or grievance mechanisms, and does not ensure they are paid a living wage or have the right to join a union.
  • It does not provide enough information about its animal impact, such as its animal welfare policy, its use of animal-derived materials, or its vegan alternatives. It does not have a fur-free or leather-free policy.

COS and Quality

COS is known for its high-quality and timeless pieces, designed to last for seasons. Customers rate COS products and services highly and appreciate the durability and versatility of their clothes. COS also offers a repair service where customers can bring their damaged items and have them fixed for free or a small fee.

However, COS also needs some help with quality and customer satisfaction. For example, COS:

  • Sometimes, it uses low-quality or synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic, that are prone to pilling, fading, or shrinking and are not biodegradable or recyclable.
  • Sometimes, inconsistent sizing, fit, or color do not match the online description or the customer’s expectations and may require alterations or returns.
  • Sometimes, poor customer service, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is slow, unresponsive, or rude and may not resolve the customer’s issues or complaints.
is cos a fast fashion brand

Pros and Cons of COS

When it comes to fast fashion, COS has its pros and cons. On the one hand, COS has some advantages over other fast fashion brands. For instance, COS has a sophisticated and elegant style that can suit different occasions and seasons. You can easily mix and match their pieces to create different looks. COS also has reasonable and fair prices that reflect the quality and craftsmanship of its products. They are not too cheap or expensive, offering good value for money. Moreover, COS has some ethical and sustainable options from better materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lyocell. These materials have less environmental and social impact than conventional ones and can be recycled or resold.

On the other hand, COS has some disadvantages over other fast fashion brands. For example, COS has less variety and diversity of styles than other brands. They may not cater to everyone’s taste, preference, or personality and may not follow the latest trends or fashions. COS also has less availability and accessibility of products than other brands. They may not be in stock, they may not ship to certain countries, or they may not have physical stores nearby. Furthermore, COS has less transparency and accountability of practices than other brands. They may not disclose all the information, meet all the standards, or address all the issues related to their environmental, social, and animal impact.

COS and Alternatives

If you are looking for ethical and sustainable alternatives to COS, you may want to check out some of these brands:

  • Kotn is a Canadian brand that makes basics from organic Egyptian cotton and supports the farmers, workers, and communities involved in its production.
  • Everlane is a US brand that makes modern essentials from ethical and sustainable materials and reveals the true cost and impact of its products.
  • People Tree is a UK brand that makes fair trade and organic clothing and supports the artisans, farmers, and producers involved in its supply chain.
  • Reformation is a US brand that makes feminine, vintage-inspired clothing. It uses eco-friendly, recycled materials and offsets its carbon footprint.
  • Patagonia: A US brand that makes outdoor and activewear, uses organic, recycled, and fair trade materials, and donates 1% of its sales to environmental causes

FAQs on Is CON Fast Fashion Brand

Does COS use sustainable materials in its clothing?

Yes, COS prioritizes sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and responsibly sourced wool in its garment production.

Are COS garments affordable compared to fast fashion brands?

While COS garments may be priced higher than those of traditional fast fashion brands, they are still more affordable than luxury designer labels, striking a balance between quality and accessibility.

Where can I find COS stores?

COS has a global presence with stores located in major cities across Europe, Asia, and North America. Additionally, its products are available for purchase online through its official website.

Does COS offer sustainable packaging?

Yes, COS is committed to reducing its environmental impact through sustainable packaging practices, including using recycled materials and minimizing plastic usage.

Is COS committed to fair labor practices?

Absolutely, COS upholds ethical manufacturing standards and works with suppliers who adhere to fair labor practices, ensuring that workers are treated fairly and paid a living wage.


Ultimately, “Is COS a fast fashion brand?” opens up a broader conversation about our choices as consumers and their impact on the world. COS may straddle the line between fast fashion and sustainability, but it ultimately reflects a growing awareness and desire for change in the industry. As consumers, we can shape the future of fashion with every purchase we make.

By choosing brands that align with our values, we can collectively steer the industry towards a more ethical and sustainable path. So, let’s ask ourselves whether COS is fast fashion and how our shopping habits can contribute to a fashion revolution. The answer lies in the labels we wear and the legacy we want to leave behind.

Share With