Wednesday, April 24th, 2013...9:10 am

Refinery29 checks in on the ethics behind 8 big brands

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Several days ago Refinery29 published a piece comparing the ethics of eight popular brands. It opened with a few great quotes from the director of a social good nonprofit in Kenya.

“The clothing we wear reflects the choices we make: thousands of economic votes that have the power to shift the clothing industry,” explains Zane Wilemon, executive director of CTC International and eco-clothing-brand L.I.F.E. Line.

“The clothing industry plays a very significant role in global sustainability. Customers should start asking where materials are sourced and find out exactly what are the working conditions of the people making this clothing…after asking those questions we may not like the answers, but that’s where change begins.”

I wish the article had mentioned the idea of quality over quantity, and supporting independent and mid-sized brands — where those dollar votes really matter.

But for the times that we find a void in our closets only chain stores can fill, here’s R29′s take on how eight companies weigh in. They ranked each on Transparency, Ethical fabrics/care for the environment, Worker treatment and Donations to charity, listed respectively below. (FWIW, it appears that the sources about each brand were their websites as opposed to brand spokespeople.)

  1. H&M: High/Yes/Yes/Yes
  2. Gap Inc.: Medium-High/Somewhat/Yes/Yes
  3. UNIQLO: Medium-High/No info/Yes/Yes
  4. Forever 21: Medium/Yes/Yes/Yes
  5. J.Crew: Medium/Somewhat/Yes/Yes
  6. Victoria’s Secret: Medium/Somewhat/Yes/Not sure
  7. Zara: Medium-Low/Yes/Poor/None
  8. Urban Outfitters: Low/Not sure/Not sure/Not sure

You can read more in past articles of mine, like Top Fashion & Beauty brands from Newsweek’s Green Rankings and 15 Big Brands ranked according to labor rights. Image from a R29 feature on model Lily Aldridge.


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