When I first dove into the world of ethical fashion – I was so overwhelmed with deciding what and what not to buy and trying to figure out which brands were actually taking steps towards ethical production and which ones were just using fancy words (ahem: SUSTAINABLE) to make us believe they are top notch.
Now if time permits, good old research starting with a brand’s website is a great way to discover more about a company. I’ve found that the companies with nothing to hide often post extensive details on the production and supply chain of their products (check out Patagonia’s website to see what an A+ for transparency looks like). BeWaRe: The companies that are not doing their share to ensure their products are produced fairly (fairness for the humans involved in the fabrication practice) will use non committal words like sustainable and environmental. They will be very vague about how they are actually following through on ethical committments. Be sure companies are walking the talk by digging a bit deeper. For example, find out if they publish their full supply chain, what formal commitments they’ve made, and how they monitor their factories and suppliers.
For those who can’t or who don’t want to sit at their laptop for hours reading, there are some amazing organizations that have done a lot of this dirty work for us. I use both resources highlighted below regularly. They have been game changers for me
Good On You App (https://goodonyou.eco)
Good On You is the world’s leading source for fashion brand ratings. The team at Good On You explains their work best:
“We pull all the information together and use expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. With Good On You, you can discover the very best fashion from around the world and learn everything you need to know about ethical and sustainable fashion.”GoodOnYou.eco
Good On You scores brands in three main areas: Labour, Environment and Animals. It then uses the scores given in each of these areas to provide an overall score. This app is so simple and handy when you’re in the middle of a store. I can’t count how many times I’ve searched a brand on the app before buying a garment. The app is completely free – download it wherever you get your apps.
Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report (https://baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/2019-ethical-fashion-guide/)
This amazing report is created to help consumers vote with their wallets! Much like the Good On You app, this report rates companies based on their ethical performance.
“The grades awarded by the Ethical Fashion Report are a measure of the efforts undertaken by each company to mitigate the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains, as well as protect the environment from the harmful impacts of the fashion industry. Higher grades are given to companies with ethical sourcing systems that, if implemented well, should reduce the extent of worker exploitation and environmental harm.“http://www.baptistworldaid.org.au
Both of these resources originate outside of North America which means you will notice that some key brands from Canada and the US have not yet been rated. When you search for a brand on the Good on You App that they have not rated, they provide the option for you to suggest the company for rating. Do it! The more we suggest the brands we see in Canada and the USA the better.
Other Resources and Websites
- Fashion Revolution (http://www.fashionrevolution.org) – Fashion Revolution is a global movement and this sites provides great resources on how to advocate for ethical clothing production and valuable information on the ethical fashion industry in general.
- Fair Trade USA Clothing Guide (https://www.fairtradecertified.org/shopping-guide/fair-trade-clothing-guide) – another great guide that highlights some of the popular brands found in the USA that are participating in the Fair Trade. Important Note: most of these brands, if not all, have created Fair Trade certified clothing lines, meaning only some of the clothes they produce are being certified. For this reason, you will see some brands in this guide that score very poorly with Good on You and the Baptist World Aid Ethical Clothing Report.