The Lucy & Yak Drama Made Easy-ish

*Please see my latest post about the L&Y situation for an updated account on my perspective!

It’s not often that I’m massively disappointed with a brand that I know and love. Unfortunately, the past couple of weeks have been rife with disappointment and dismay. First Oatly, now Lucy & Yak. Why can’t we have nice things?!

If you’ve heard of the drama, but don’t actually know what’s going on, this is for you. If you didn’t even know there WAS drama, this is for you too. Because I tried making heads or tails of it for days and got absolutely nowhere.

Whether you’re familiar with my love for Lucy & Yak products or not, just know I loved them as a brand. They were this cool, new kid on the block in the ethical fashion world. They made comfortable but eye-catching trend pieces that can be styled up and down in so many different ways. I even wrote a blog post about them.

Leading a more eco conscious lifestyle often means that you have to be open to criticism of your faves. You can’t have a ride or die attitude about it, because more often than not you’ll end up looking like an idiot. I went into this entire situation with an open mind, and I know which side I’m currently on.

Lucy & Yak clothing flatlay

So here’s the deal…

This all began when Aja Barber raised a few points on Instagram regarding Lucy & Yak. I’ve listed them because there’s a few things to get through.

As you can see, there’s a lot to go into here. I’m going to section it all out and make it easier to navigate.

Free Emotional and Intellectual Labour

2020 has been the year that people are realising the value of their knowledge. Lucy & Yak approached individuals i.e. sustainable fashion writers (like Aja Barber) and sustainable living influencers in exchange for ‘free labour’. I believe this started when they were first called out for a lack of size inclusivity a couple of years ago.

The basis of this is that they reached out to people and wanted to have phone calls and meetings with people who could do the groundwork for them, often in exchange for nothing but a pair of free dungarees.

The problem with this is that instead of reaching out and utilising people i.e. Aja Barber as a paid consultant, they were simply making it clear that they wanted to do as little of the work as possible and just chuck a few free clothing items in to make it seem as though they didn’t just want something for nothing.

As far as I’m aware there’s quite a few people that they did this to other than Aja. They’re pretty notorious for throwing free clothes at people in order to get a) more exposure as a brand and b) information they need but don’t want to pay for.

L&Y mirror selfie

Size Inclusivity? Never Heard of it.

About two years ago, I first heard of Lucy & Yak. I was in my first year at university and had just started looking into sustainable living and ethical fashion. I immediately fell in love and dove head first into the world of dungarees. But I do recall seeing a YouTube video from the brand while I was doing my research about them.

It was a rather sombre video of the brands founders, Lucy and Chris. The whole video was very tearful, they made out like they were the victims of bullying and undeserved backlash. At the time, I sided with them. I really felt for them and thought “oh my God why can’t these guys catch a break?!”

Fast forward two years, and there’s almost a carbon copy of this video now on their Instagram feed. Interesting.

Every time the size inclusivity issue crops up, they’ve found some way to avoid it. In the video I remember watching it was “oh we’re just a small brand”, “we haven’t got the capacity to make sizes upwards of xyz”, “it’s a much more complex process than you think”. It’s all stuff that we’ve heard before.

The reality is that it can’t possibly be THAT difficult to size up a pair of dungarees, which is their primary money maker. They are literally known as “THE dungaree brand”. At the end of the day, their clothes are already loose fitting, and they’re practically a pair of trousers with a bib at the front. You’re telling me that it’s on par with rocket science to size them up a few times? Come on now.

The real problem with the size inclusivity issue is that every time it crops up, they pretend it’s news to them. Despite the fact that this has been an ongoing conversation for years.

It seems to me that for a long time, Lucy & Yak just didn’t want to be size inclusive. They might not admit it, but they just didn’t care to look into that area. Which, honestly, seems absolutely insane to me because in doing so they alienated a HUGE portion of their fan base who sadly couldn’t fit into their products.

You’d think that as a brand, you would want as many people as possible to be able to love and appreciate your products. Sadly, it seems they wanted it to be more of an “exclusive” kind of club. If everyone can have something, it’s not a special and coveted anymore. In doing so, they kind of created a fan base in which people aspired to be the kind of person who COULD wear their products. Kind of an “it girl” situation.

L&Y Yellow Jumper Selfie

Cry Me a River

I can’t even begin to tell you how annoying these apology videos are to me. I couldn’t even sit through the duration of one with a straight face.

When you’re the people behind the brand, you have to be open to criticism. If you’re going wrong somewhere, then surely you’d want to be notified and try to do better. It would seem that L&Y just want to sit and cry about it.

In the running of a business, it can’t be that personal. A criticism of your brand is not a personal criticism of YOU.

To sit there and cry to a camera and claim that you had “no idea” that a lot oft his was going on, is just a whole lot of bullshit really. Take a look at the situation and own up to the fact you could’ve done a lot better than you did. Because when you sit there and cry about it you start to lose a lot of legitimacy in your response.

The entire apology almost felt like a guilt trip. Like people should give them a break because they’ve shed a few tears over the situation. A lot of people have used the term “gaslighting” in reference to their response and honestly? I can’t disagree.

What a Way to Make a Living

The greenwashing issue is something that surprised me the most. Mainly because I was naïve and didn’t question the reality of their means of production and manufacture. Lucy & Yak have always been very vocal about the fact they provide a ‘living wage’ to all their workers.

But what does this mean exactly? Their clothing is produced in a factory in India, then shipped over, packaged, and sold from the UK.

The average salary within the UK is £29,600 per year according to Jobted. This works out to approximately £1,950 per month.

In India, however, the average hourly rate is 180INR. This works out to £1.90 p/h. Let’s say the average garment worker is doing 8 hour shifts, 5 days a week. That leaves them with a monthly wage of 28,800INR. This is equivalent to £307.80 GBP.

It makes you wonder why L&Y brag about this living wage arrangement so much when it works out to be… not the best. I feel as though they’re using the “living wage” front as an excuse for using offshore labour forces that they don’t have to pay out the nose for.

Red Lucy & Yak Cropped Jumper

‘Cause You Know That You’re Toxic

The backlash received by Aja Barber was disgusting at best. L&Y fans flooded her comments and inbox with accusations and personal attacks. It was insinuated that Barber was in it for the money or the fame, when realistically she already had a large following and flourishing career prior to speaking out about the situation.

Comments have been made and many have actually come forward about L&Y ‘fan groups’ online for abusive and manipulative behaviours. While this isn’t reflective of the actual team at L&Y, it does make you wonder how one brand managed to accumulate a fan base who are wiling to defend them no matter what.

In this case, “no matter what” included making racist, derogatory, and outright rude comments not only towards Aja but also to others who spoke out.

The team at Lucy & Yak did make a statement not too long afterwards claiming that these type of comments were problematic and not tolerated on their pages or in association with them as a brand.

So now what?

I’m willing to give L&Y the benefit of the doubt in this situation. I’m hoping that they’ve realised we’re not going to sit and accept their tearful “woe is me” apologies and not hold them accountable.

Demanding accountability is not cancelling and I don’t necessarily believe in cancel culture whole-heartedly. A part of me really wants to believe that all of this comes from a place of honest mistakes and they’re going to rectify things going forward. But another part of me is like “I’m not buying this bullshit”. It’s a very tricky situation.

I feel as though I don’t know what to do because I really did love L&Y as a brand. I don’t have any of the dungarees anymore but I have a few tops and cropped jumpers from them that I adore. It sucks that a brand you stood behind whole-heartedly turns out to not be who you thought they were.

I’m not here to tell you what to do etc. I’m not going to tell you to shop shopping with Lucy & Yak, I’m just here to give you the information (as I know it), and let you make your own mind up about the whole situation.

L&Y Sticker Packaging

Trying to be fast fashion?

I know I’ve referenced her a bunch in this post but Aja Barber made a really interesting point about L&Y trying to emulate fast fashion brands.

How? Through doing a LOT of product gifting, multiple product launches etc. While it’s amazing that they appeal to the mass market, it is worrying to me if they are trying to emulate the fast fashion business model. That’s not what they were about when they began and it would suck to see them go down the same sort of path as a lot of mainstream fast fashion brands.

If you made it all the way to the end of this post… wow. Props to you! Thanks so much for reading.

What do you make of the Lucy & Yak drama? Were you in the loop from the beginning or are you late to the party?

26 comments so far.

26 responses to “The Lucy & Yak Drama Made Easy-ish”

  1. Jasmine says:

    I think before they get to include more sizes, and more models in said sizes! They need to address the actual quality and sizing issues. Every. Single. Release. There’s something wrong and always an excuse. They constantly bring out limited editions but don’t make enough in the larger sizes, it breeds this weird culture where you can buy 5th hand dungarees for £200+?
    I am annoyed though, I do think they skirted around inclusive sizing for far too long.

    • Totally agree, they’ve spent way too long skirting around the issue instead of just addressing it head on in the first place. It’s all so tiresome!
      Also… £200 for a pair of dungarees?! I could cry.
      El xx

  2. Iona G says:

    Thank you for such a clear summary. I’ve been following this YakDrama too. With the larger sizes I have a feeling they would have to charge more money for some of the plus size (hate that phrase) pairs of dungarees as there will be more fabric needed and cord is a more expensive fabric and they don’t want to have to face this issue.

    • That could potentially be the case. In all honesty I don’t think their profit margins are so slim that they’d have to charge more for larger sizes, I think they took the easy route and decided to ignore the sizing issue because it made their life easier. But we’ll never truly know what was going on behind the scenes which makes it all the more frustrating!
      El xx

  3. Ciara says:

    Very informative post! You raised a lot of very valid points and there isn’t one I don’t agree with. It’s so disappointing when a brand you thought were really great let you down. Fab post Elen! x

  4. Phoebe says:

    Also, I decided I wasn’t going to buy anything from them again because the last few things I’ve bought were utter crap and fell apart on first wear. Including a time I bought one of their shirts and three buttons fell off whilst I was out and I had to dash into a shop to buy a sewing kit. I don’t mind paying a bit more for ethical but it seems like they’re not even that and the quality is rubbish.

    • That’s so bad! I’ve not had anything from them break but I’ve mainly purchased tops from them which tend to be a bit more hard wearing compares to trousers or a skirt. Thanks so much for reading Phoebe! I really appreciate it.
      El xx

  5. Purple Girl says:

    I find your summary very one sided. I do agree that L&Y’s first response video totally missed the mark. But the barrage that followed from Aja and her followers (and continued to follow even after L&Y’s acknowledgement that they’d got it completely wrong), across Twitter and Insta in particular was completely over the top and at times a clear witch hunt. I dared to politely disagree with Aja’s approach of publicly shaming individuals who were in the Facebook groups on her Insta stories, and I was called a racist fat phobic. In fact, any dissent to Aja’s views and approach in their entirety have been met with some very strong accusations of racism in particular. I agree that some comments were unacceptable microaggressions, and none of us will know the extent to which racist comments were or weren’t made in DMs. But naming and shaming private individuals in ‘burn book’ memes based on hearsay from her own fans, is inflammatory and could lead to some tragic consequences. Having now done some research into Aja’s approach to “holding brands to account” (which I do believe in principle is a necessary and worthy pursuit), I can see a huge amount of drama and whipping up of fans to keep at these brands until they crack. I can’t gelp but wonder what her aim is/was, as it seems to have gone far beyond “holding them to account”.

    • Hey! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and write your comment. I found your experience really informative! Looking back over my post I agree wholeheartedly that it’s quite an inflammatory response to the whole situation and seems one sided as I jumped on the attack rather soon when everything was kicking off.
      I feel that in the passing weeks L&Y have done a lot to rectify the damage that was done both by L&Y themselves and by the private social media groups. I’ve not sworn off buying L&Y by any means, but do think that the constructive criticism was necessary for them to move forward from this situation.
      As for the continued drama and “witch hunt” vibes that I’ve seen on social media since, I’m really not here for it. I agree that people can take it too far in the name of social justice, to the point where companies just crumble and cease to exist. I hope that’s not the case with L&Y as they’ve done far more good than bad and I hope they continue the good work they’ve started.
      El xx

  6. Kay says:

    Thank you for an informative post, for someone who was oblivious – I’ll definitely be going away to think about this and decide where I sit. I bought my second pair of Alexa trousers last month and within the first wear they had bobbled (my old pair havent done this at all!). I think all of this paves the way to start shining light on alternative brands and independents we can be supporting instead – do recommend any if you can!

    • Hi Kay! Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. In the passing weeks it seems as thought L&Y have redeemed themselves a bit here, so hopefully they can get themselves back on track because they were doing some great things as a brand. It never hurts to be constructively critical of your faves every now and again aye!

      Will be sure to recommend any in the near future if I can, keep an eye out!
      El xx

  7. Piglet says:

    Iona G – but do H&M charge more for the same garment in a plus size? The more equitable way to do this if there is an extra cost would be to spread the extra cost across the sizes? As others have said, they are making enough money now. Extra costs should be absorbed their end. The consumer doesn’t need to only about it. Does a company tell you things like ‘our water bill has increased so the price of the product has to go up?’ No. Just do it. The consumer doesn’t need to know about this. Or – shock – maybe your profit margin needs to decrease a tiny bit to offer plus sizes?

  8. Chiara says:

    Disappointed! Feel like I don’t want to wear my L&Y clothes no more.. but I have bought them and it would a whole other issue if I just bin them! ♻️

  9. Koo says:

    As someone that’s been looking for a pair of decent dungarees, I’m really impressed with your blog (ex journo turned online marketing guru here *waves*). I find their brand quite interesting and came to this blog after reading the ‘size guide’ section – which isn’t a size guide, it’s a rant about how difficult it is to size dungarees and how they’re now being inclusive all the way up to a size 22! (My size 24 Beyonce butt is not impressed at this, they’re acting like size 22 is a Homer Simpson-esque tent dress). In fact I can’t actually find measurements for their dungarees anywhere…

    As someone that’s worked in the fabric industry I know it’s bloody difficult in this day and age to ethically source back to the start, but if you’re the one employing staff abroad, you choose the wage, and you should be honest about it.

    On a side note, does anyone know much about Run and Fly?

    • Hi! Thanks so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it. It’s super frustrating with this kind of stuff because on one hand, I have no idea how to scale up an item of clothing or what the process even entails. On the other hand, I assume it can’t possibly be THAT difficult when almost every other brand manages it without a fuss?

      I’ve never heard of Run & Fly myself, but I’ll give them a look!

      El xx

  10. Tasha says:

    I knew that lucy and yak wasn’t the most size inclusive brand but I didn’t realize some of these details. I have a pattern for dungarees and I’ve made my own pair. If anyone who sees this is interested feel free to come to my Instagram and message me for a pair. I’ll custom make them to your size. I do offer up to a 5XL in my pattern (not sure how true to size it is) but i’d really be down to get everyone’s measurements and really customize it to make sure it fits right. Anyway my shop is called Fine Fairy Finds. Thanks for this post about the Dungas. I don’t think I’ll be buying again. Also actually small, also black owned. And I’ll make them for you for 90 CAD which is roughly 53 pounds.

  11. Tara says:

    Hi,I’ve only recently found this brand and already love it. I read your article then read their statement,and it looks like their taking action which is really good. The fact that L&Y are saying their committed to making sizes beyond 22 is positive. No brand is perfect and it’s good they’ve admitted their mistakes. Thanks for your article 👍 xx

  12. Ana says:

    OMG I had no idea of this and this is completely baffling. Wow, I don’t even know what to think but I can guarantee you I’m googling those stupid apologetic videos. Idiots…


  13. Julie says:

    As a small business owner I have to disagree with the ongoing (or hopefully not anymore) boycott of L&Y. They’ve been publicly shamed (something that can affect their operations massively) without Aja Barber even raising this issue privately with them first. I find that kind of behaviour extremely unprofessional, as well as that everyone who defended L&Y being automatically accused of fat phobia and racism where really race was never ever a question in this.

    People are VERY fragile and frustrated with the world right now and are just trying to find ways to channel this anger, and unfortunately many ethical brands have recently been targeted and aggressively demanded things they might have not been able to deliver for a reason or another. This is normal, not everything you ask a brand can be done.

    The thing is we all see the world differently and can not possibly take everyone in consideration. Never have I ever seen such strong demand by a marginal group (it’s fair but I think only to a certain point). A friend I talked to said range 8-22 is already huge and I feel like people feel like they can demand everything they want, like small ethical brands had all the funds in the world but I can assure you that starting your own business is more likely gonna cost you more money than make as the operation and staff costs are absolutely huge, not to even mention insurances, rent, materials.. Everyone’s gotta earn their living and L&Y are on the more transparent, ethical side compared to millions of modern slavery fueled businesses. Why L&Y are being shamed but all the rest can keep destroying the world in all ways, starting from natural resources and inequality which are MUCH bigger problems? I think we need some perspective in this discussion and not blame the ones that are actually trying to make a change.

    • Hi Julie! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, I took a lot of time to take into account everything you’ve raised in your comment. I’ve written an updated account of where I stand on the issue now, and agree that my original post was very much a one-sided account of the situation. I’ve added a link to the new post above about where I stand now.
      I totally agree we all have bigger fish to fry when it comes to sustainable and ethical fashion – I never expected the post to take off as much as it did and just posted it on a whim out of frustration. After all, we can’t get it right all of the time, aye?!
      I hope you’ve had a lovely festive period and continue to enjoy the rest of your day.
      El xx

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I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.

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