Fashion Nova—the online apparel brand famous for affordable, skin-tight clothing endorsed by the likes of Cardi B and Kylie Jenner—has once again landed in hot water with federal regulators.
The Los Angeles-based fast fashion retailer will have to pay $4.2 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that the company purposefully blocked negative reviews of its merchandise from being posted online, the FTC said Tuesday.
The regulator claimed that the ecommerce retailer misrepresented products on its website by suppressing customer reviews with ratings lower than four stars out of five. It alleged that Fashion Nova used a third-party online product review management system to flag lower-starred reviews for its approval and to automatically post high-scoring reviews to its website. According to the FTC, the company failed to post hundreds of thousands of lower-starred, negative reviews from late 2015 until November 2019.
“Deceptive review practices cheat consumers, undercut honest businesses and pollute online commerce,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices, and other firms should take note.”
In addition to the settlement, Fashion Nova is forbidden from misrepresenting any customer reviews and endorsements in the future, and must post all customer reviews to its website for products currently sold (with the exception of obscene, sexually explicit, racist or unlawful content).
In a statement to dot.LA, a Fashion Nova spokesperson described the FTC’s allegations as “inaccurate and deceptive,” and contended that the company “never suppressed any website reviews, and it immediately and voluntarily addressed the website review issues when it became aware of them in 2019.” Instead, the retailer blamed the issue on complications involving its third-party product review software.
“Fashion Nova is highly confident that it would have won in court and only agreed to settle the case to avoid the distraction and legal fees that it would incur in litigation,” the spokesperson said.
The penalty is not the first time that Fashion Nova has had to settle misconduct claims with the FTC. In April 2020, the retailer was ordered to pay $9.3 million in fines over allegations that it failed to ship products in a timely fashion, denied customers cancellations when orders weren’t shipped promptly and issued illegal gift cards to compensate consumers instead of providing refunds.
Fashion Nova’s string of questionable business practices also include revelations that the company’s clothing was being made in dozens of U.S. factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers, per a New York Times investigation in 2019. The Times cited sources who claimed that sewers at those factories were paid wages as low as $2.77 an hour.
Update, Jan. 25: This article has been updated to include comment from Fashion Nova.