How Do You Know if a Clothing Company Is Ethical?
Nowadays, there is a lot of awareness about ethical fashion, which is fantastic!
But regrettably, it also means that some companies try to cut corners by merely claiming to operate "ethically" in order to attract customers rather than actually implementing ethical principles across their supply chain.
Some businesses use language such, "We safeguard the safety and fair pay of all of our workers..." to give the impression that they are moral. But the majority of brands don't own the factory where their clothing is produced.
As a result, they are not legally their employees and are therefore not accountable for the factory workers.
It is admirable to work to build a reputation as an ethical company, but it takes dedication. The majority of businesses are motivated by money, and it is feasible to be both profitable and ethical.
However, there must be a careful balance between making decisions that will benefit oneself financially and those that will not harm others. The moral company understands the distinction.
Unfortunately, a lot of fashion companies have realised how effective a marketing tool ethics and sustainability can be.
They distort the truth or use language and images to conceal their unethical behaviour. Here's how we at EME determine a brand's ethics and whether its claims are legitimate.
What are ethics?
It is challenging to establish a single standard for ethics that applies to everyone because ethics are reflections of our individual values and beliefs.
For instance, we can argue that purchasing bananas in plastic wrapping prolongs their shelf life and prevents food waste.
On the other hand, you might call me "bananas" for not needing the additional plastic packing!
Some issues are simpler to resolve than others. The majority of consumers dislike clothing companies that buy their supplies from Asian sweatshops.
Although many items in the gaming, alcohol, and cigarette industries are lawful, our government (and public money) must pay for their societal consequences. Does this imply that no one should consume alcohol, smoke, or gamble?
Look at the location and methods used in the creation of the clothing, from the raw materials to the chemical processes, garment production, waste management, and end-of-life-cycle.
Sadly, not all fashion retailers and manufacturers are open about this information. Most of them only display the content that customers wish to see.
Many fast fashion companies even cover up the fact that they work in dangerous factories, employ forced labour, use dangerous chemicals, and mistreat farmers, employees, and animals.
Numerous manufacturers and merchants don't want us to see the many things that are happening in the fashion business. Clothing has a significant negative influence on the environment that becomes worse every year.
Fortunately, ethical and eco-friendly fashion is becoming more well-known. As a result, individuals are beginning to give their clothing's manufacturing process more consideration than just its cost and fashion appeal.
A significant step in the correct way is becoming more knowledgeable about the risks associated with quick fashion and ethical fashion. When purchasing, seek out pieces from ethical fashion labels that are of good quality and durability.
The right of consumers to know where and how products are created extends to clothing. To determine if a fashion brand is ethical, I can provide you a few pointers.
Be on the lookout for high levels of transparency, less frequent product releases, support for social causes, and reasonable product prices.
There are valid reasons why more people are having environmental conversations. Acting quickly is necessary to advance the fashion industry's commitment to social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
Since the green movement is gaining traction, some fashion companies are attempting to be more sustainable. How can you tell if what they say is true, though? It can be really perplexing, especially if you are new to ethical fashion.
Ways To Know If Your Brand Is Ethical
It's All About Transparency
They will want to shout it from the rooftops if a brand is ethical. After all, developing genuine ethics is no simple task.
At every stage of the supply chain, there must be an ethical commitment.
For instance, it's clear from their website bio and a lot of the online content that Dorsu (a company listed in our brand directory) puts a lot of effort into doing the right thing.
Honesty and integrity provide another lens through which to see transparency. A brand that is transparent will own up to its mistakes and recognise its successes.
For instance, Lois Hazel praises environmentally beneficial measures but acknowledges that the supply chain cannot be fully tracked.
No one is flawless, and if they profess to be, that's when you should start doubting them, so we'll take this level of honesty and ethics any day.
A reputable non-profit published a study called the Transparency Index that only measures how much information a major brand has disclosed about its efforts to be more ethical and sustainable. It doesn't imply that a business is ethical or sustainable. But if a brand is highly ranked as transparent, you can be sure that activists and watchdogs have rooted out almost any skeletons in its closet.
Companies that Fashion Revolution has rated poorly for transparency are not trusted or included by us.
Either they are concealing something or they believe the entire ethical and sustainable discussion is beneath them. In either case, it's not appealing.
But only significant international businesses with annual sales in the hundreds of millions are ranked by the Transparency index.
Look For The Company's "Impact Report"
Simply asking the question will reveal whether or not your apparel was produced ethically.
Inquire about the company's precise criteria for employee salaries, working conditions, and health standards by email or a direct message on social media.
Seek out the company's social impact report and look for openness in the development and sourcing of their products.
In general, a company is more likely to create apparel ethically the more open and knowledgeable it is about its production method.
Read the Brand's About Page on Their Website
The brand's about page should describe the brand's ethics code, why it is an ethical business, how and where clothes are made, how textiles are sourced, and what kind of fabrics are used.
In essence, their supply chain operation should be open.
The policy page of a company is the quickest place to go for ethical standards when researching a brand online. If a company is ethical, the public may typically find a wealth of information about it.
An honest company has nothing to conceal. Consider a scenario where the brand makes no mention of the manufacturing location of its clothing.
After reading what the company has to say about itself, it's time to see if additional sources will support its assertions.
After reviewing the brand's about page, look for a page with information on their production facility, labour laws, and location.
You should look for pay information and certifications like fair trade, living wages, names, and specifics of factories if production is taking place in an unregulated nation.
A company is ethical if it is open about where its products are created and the working conditions for its staff.
Encircled displays all the sewing studios on their website and takes delight in every product manufactured in Toronto.
Consider it to be like internet dating. Even though a guy will put all of his positive traits on his profile, not all of them are really accurate.
To find out if anyone who knows him can attest to his claim that he is "powerful yet sensitive and handy in the kitchen," you might want to enquire around before you go out with him.
So where can you go to confirm the ethical claims made by a brand?
Fairtrade certification is one way to confirm that the clothing you are purchasing was produced responsibly. These factory standard requirements must also be met by Fairtrade certified businesses in addition to recognising and upholding ILO (International Labor Organization) standards:
- "Fair Trade Bonuses Workers collectively determine how to share extra money, whether to give out cash bonuses or put it towards a need in the neighbourhood."
- "Employee Voice. Employees are educated about their rights and provided with private avenues to raise problems both inside and outside the institution."
- "Female Rights. To safeguard women's rights, combat sexual harassment, and advance equal pay, Standard has special measures." Core Value Statement
A core value statement that outlines its purpose is present in an ethical company.
Any company can develop a value statement, but an ethical company actually lives up to it.
It conveys this objective to every member of the workforce and makes sure it is carried out.
The moral company will also put in place a code of conduct that supports its objective. Each employee is required to abide by this code of conduct while he fulfils the objective of the organisation.
Check The Fashion Brand's Factories
Your prefered clothing line ought to be as open as possible. It should be simple for you to determine where the clothing is made.
Visit their website to find out more about the factories. Relevant information on the factories, the countries of production, and labour laws should be mentioned on at least one page.
Finding information on living wages, health insurance, vacation time, and other benefits is even better.
A fashion brand that is open to disclosing that kind of information is reliable. This ought to be the standard for all brands and merchants in the sector. However, at this time, it is not.
Fortunately, change is underway. Fashion brands are becoming more transparent as a result of the growing number of inquiries.
Keep in mind that you have the ability to effect that change. You pick the clothing you purchase and use your money to support the companies that merit it.
Pass on a fashion brand if it isn't being transparent enough. Brands should be transparent about the conditions at their producing facilities. This need not be kept a secret.
Ask them personally if you're lacking any details about the labour rules, the location, or the manufacturer of the clothing!
Respect for Employees and Customers
Respect and morality go together.
An ethical company, for instance, respects its workers by appreciating their perspectives and treating them equally.
The company respects its clients by paying attention to their comments and determining their needs.
An ethical company respects its suppliers by making timely payments and using ethical purchasing procedures. And an ethical company respects its community by being environmentally conscious, demonstrating care, and making charitable contributions as it deems fit.
Google The Brand and Stalk Their Social Media
Visit Google to read what they have to say about them after exploring their website!
Do a Google search for the brand's name to see if there has been any press coverage or blog articles from trustworthy bloggers or influencers.
The likelihood that a brand being ethical is typically higher the more (good) media it receives.
While perusing search results, consider the following questions:
- Which company-related articles appear first on search results?
- Are they frequently in the news?
- Are they a recognisable brand?
- What is being discussed on social media?
- Do their social media platforms reflect the principles outlined on their website?
- Do bloggers write about their outfits while they are wearing them?
When it comes to white saviours, cultural appropriation, and other contentious issues sustainably and ethically, some firms have sent us some genuinely offensive pitches in the past.
Or, the lookbook they gave over lacks any models of colour.
We might reject these pitches outright or, if we believe the problem is minor and not indicative of more serious problems, we might simply advise the pitching parties that we can't disseminate their message until they make some modifications.
Check Each Fashion Brand's Policies
TThis is another another excellent technique to determine an ethical fashion brand. Large fashion companies may also have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidelines.
These are guidelines I've set for myself to follow while incorporating social and environmental goals into my daily actions.
Visit the brand's website to learn more about its policies. Some people will volunteer or take part in philanthropic organisations, which are signs of moral behaviour.
You want to know if well-known retailers and companies are making an effort to lessen their impact on the environment.
Do they sacrifice a percentage of their income? Do they promote charitable causes?
Do they actively participate in ocean cleanup, reforestation, recycling, or trash collection?
Their present location and where they want to go.
No item is perfect. The companies we trust the most have measured pollutants, emissions, water use, and garbage in great detail. They have also set goals for where they want to go and when they plan to get there.
This holds everyone on the team accountable and motivates them to work more.
Sharing the name and address of their factory can result in a competitor stealing it or put the artisans at risk of a break-in for small firms.
We would, however, at the very least, like to see images of them and know which country's region they are in, how much they are paid in comparison to the local minimum and living wage, and what kinds of inspections and certifications they are subject to.
Accurate Information And Promises
Even the most reputable brands have in the past spread false information.
However, now that everyone is aware of the importance of thorough fact-checking, we no longer have the tolerance for pitches that claim the fashion industry is the second most polluting.
Or copy on a website that advertises a product that is not feasible.
For instance, one company advertised bags manufactured from leather leftovers from the production of leather jackets before subsequently claiming the leather was vegetable-tanned.
That is impossible because stiff vegetable-tanned leather cannot be used to make leather coats. Until they alter the copy and show greater knowledge and awareness, we will connect that's not a brand.
Don't Trust What A Brand Says; Watch What They Do!
It is not sufficient for brands to declare their efforts to achieve sustainability goals while setting targets. Every company ought to provide an update on its progress.
You can observe what companies and merchants are doing to learn what is going on.
Are they exploiting a cause more to promote their brand than to actually aid people?
Participating in nonprofits and philanthropic groups is a good thing, but it must be sincere and long-lasting. and not to foster goodwill among clients or the public.
They can provide a portion of their profits, but it will actually be very little. So pay close attention and track their everyday activities.
How about utilising clean energy sources? Recycling in the main office? Deliveries using electric vehicles? recycled paper for packaging?
A fashion brand's activities can be viewed on Google, where you can obtain a wealth of relevant information about them.
Are there news or influential reports concerning their beneficial effects?
Look them up on social media.
What topic is the most frequently discussed there? Do they adhere to the same principles, narratives, and mission across their website and social media platforms?
There is a wealth of information online, especially for major fashion firms, from the press and other news sources. Check it out!
Additionally, you can sign up for a fashion brand email. Keep an eye on the marketing strategies they use. First, look for unethical marketing tactics that encourage emotional purchasing judgments.
Reading their email and hearing their sales pitch is a great way to find out what a brand or retailer is about.
How frequently do they develop new products? The traditional seasonal cycle of designing new collections 2 to 4 times per year is a lot more ethical than pushing new items to high street stores every week.
Producing long-lasting, high-quality clothing is at the heart of ethical and ecological fashion. Consumers should be encouraged by brands and merchants to cherish, wear, and take good care of their clothing to the fullest extent feasible.
And this ought to be the case for all of their product lines. Not for only one eco-friendly or eco-conscious collection. When only a small section of their product offering is ethical, it is not enough to be considered an ethical fashion brand.
In the case of the most well-known fashion brands, people already know if they are ethical or not. And also how well they are doing concerning economic, social and environmental sustainability.
FAQs About Ethical Company
What makes an ethical brand?
In a closed-loop system, as the name implies, an ethical fashion firm uses a circular manufacturing line as opposed to the linear "make, use, dispose of" paradigm. This indicates that they produce, design, and distribute their garments in a way that uses few resources and generates little waste..
What does a sustainable business look like?
When making decisions about their operations, sustainable firms take a variety of environmental, economic, and social aspects into account. These businesses also keep an eye on the effects of their actions to prevent short-term gains from becoming long-term liabilities. How can I be more ethical when shopping?