Shopping for clothes on the high street frustrates me and there is a lot about fashion brands that make me feel uncomfortable but I need them to clothe my family. And as much as I love second hand and upcycling, I love fashion, I like to play with trends and I can’t always get what I want second hand. Love or hate the fashion industry, there would be a whole lot of people out of jobs if it wasn’t for these brands. Once again I find myself aligned with Fashion Revolution’s approach, encouraging us all to join the campaign to persuade brands to act more responsibly rather than boycotting them.
At present, even the high scorers are nowhere near where they need to be and when shopping, it’s a question of choosing the best of fairly bad bunch. But that choice is important because if enough of us make the right choice, it will lead to change. Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes campaign asks everyone to wear a garment with the label showing, take a photo and post on social media #whomademyclothes and #brand (there is a list on their website). It’s a brilliant way to get the message out there and directly tell brands how we as consumers feel about ethics, tens of thousands of people have done it and the number is growing.
In my earlier post entitled “Ethical Fashion: A Look at High Street Brands” I talked in detail about some of the organisations looking into policies that fashion brands have in place for protecting the environment and their workforce. Today, I want to give you some pointers on where to look if you want to check out the brands you use and what to look for if you are on their websites.
Rank a Brand is a huge comparison site, with over 1000 brands in it fashion section. It’s easy to use and makes clear statements about what they are looking for and why brands might not be reaching the standards expected. You can ask about brands not yet rated and even poke a brand to encourage them to take part. Their ratings come out fairly low in comparison to others but I think this because their criteria is so broad (more explanation on this in earlier post). The site also has information on how they rate brands and what questions they ask.
I’ve previously used a report called Apparel Industry Trends 2015, produced by Baptist World Aid. This is an Australian organisation so many of the brands rated are not available in the UK, in fact the report has been renamed The Australian Fashion Report. However, Fashion Revolution, together with an organisation called Ethical Consumer have produced a similar report called the Transparency Index which rates 40 companies and includes some brands more familiar in the UK. Ethical Consumer have a very comprehensive website with their own rating tool, I’m going check it out for my next post on fashion brands.
These organisations are doing an amazing job, it’s a massive industry and entails long, complex supply chains, the brands that have co-operated and been rated are the tip of the iceberg. Also, there are many aspects to ethical fashion, some brands do better in one area than another. Brands with an average rating I call my grey area brands and I researched their websites to make a final judgement. What sets the high scorers apart for me is that they are showing commitment to improve. They have policies in place on environmental and labour standards and are communicating them to their customers. I can see from their websites and the research that they are setting targets and have monitoring in place to ensure standards are met throughout their supply chain. The lower rated brands did not even complete the questionnaire send to them for the Transparency Index.
To finish today, I’ve updated my own Brand Table, there has been some movement based on further research and I’ve added a couple of non-rated brands based on my own knowledge and research. I have to stress again that this is my opinion based on my principles and my personal moral code. I am not trying to tell people where they should shop and I’m not claiming that these brands are ethical. I would still favour using what I already have rather than buying new and sourcing second hand. But with busy lives there is also a time to be pragmatic, sometimes needs must. These are brands from my own wardrobe and it is a score relative to what is available, if I can find a better alternative, I will. You make your own judgement.