Sustainable Fashion Retailers

Written by nana@lovehatechange
Published 15 March 2020

25% of companies are leading the way in becoming more sustainable. There are resources such as Good on You app and Ethical Consumer ratings that help you to find these companies – but you should always check the label.

Environmental sustainability is something that most companies claim to care about, and it can be difficult to tell when a company is greenwashing or genuinely made effort to operate sustainably. Global Fashion Agenda, which is a forum on fashion sustainability, has done research which shows that about 25% of companies have made good progress, while the bottom 25% have done very little.

      • The best performers have reached Expanding to Scale phase and scored 65 out of 100
      • About half of the retailers fall into phase called Implementing the Core scoring 43-47 points out of 100
      • Bottom 25% are not taking serious action and scored mere 16 points
Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 report

The Global Fashion Agenda measurement system is not perfect – it is very difficult to measure the overall impact – and their numbers are based on self-reporting by the participating companies. Also, though perhaps it is an oversight from my part, I have not been able to ascertain the number of companies involved to be able to understand how representative the data is. In any case, it seems to be the best and most serious global undertaking in the area of measuring the full environmental impact of the fashion industry. 

Who are the best 25% ?

Global Fashion Agenda doesn’t share individual company information, which is understandable due to the sensitivity of the data. They could hardly expect low-performers wanting to engage with them if this meant that their scores would become publicly available. Luckily, there are other resources that help.

The best resources I have found are Good on You  and Ethical Consumer brand directories. In July 2020, Ethical Consumer identified Top 10 Ethical Clothing Companies after researching 87 brands.

Good on You
Ethical Consumer

All brand ratings are overall ethical ratings i.e. they are not limited to environmental sustainability. 

Other resources

Faer says they “search the web for the latest guilt-free fashion brands”. I have not bought anything from them (I’m trying not to by new clothes) but their app seems to work reasonably well, and give options that include recycled polyester, organic cotton and TENCELTM  – but also those made of 100% viscose or conventional cotton.

The Sustainable Angle. Their website includes useful information, but I found the brand listing rather short, and it’s given without a score or information about how the company is doing in different areas.

Good shopping guide shares clothing company scores, but the number of brands included is limited. They share less information about where the scoring is based on compared to Good on You.

Faer app

Always, always check the label

Even those companies who actively promote their ‘greenness’ may not be that green. For example, I recently came across a company who state sustainability being one of their core principles. For some of their products they advertise the use of OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100, which only guarantees that the item has been tested against harmful chemicals. It is not to be confused with OEKO-TEX MADE IN GREEN which covers sustainable production as well.