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What makes an ethical brand? We asked Good On You

Farfetch is working with Good On You, a rating system for shopping fashion ethically that gives you the power to make informed decisions about the clothes you buy.
Good On You have done the research and spoken to the experts – the campaigners and the brands – to come up with simple ratings for how each brand impacts three key areas: people, planet and animals.
They score each brand on these issues and give them an overall rating from ‘We Avoid’ and ‘Not Good Enough’, through ‘It’s A Start’, to ‘Good’ and ‘Great’. The ‘Positively Conscious’ tag on Farfetch products uses the Good On You rating system. Here’s what Good On You look for when they rate an ethical brand.

People

Before that new jacket arrived at your door, it was harvested, spun, dyed, cut, assembled and packed by many hands. When we assess how a brand impacts people, we look at how its workers are treated across the supply chain – from policies and practices on child labour and forced labour to worker safety, the right to join a union and payment of a living wage. We also consider a brand’s relationships with their suppliers and whether they audit their factories. Some brands making positive steps in these areas include denim label Citizens Of Humanity (Good rating). They manufacture in the USA and have a supplier code of conduct that covers International Labor Organisation principles. Footwear brand Veja (also rated Good), trace and audit their supply chain to ensure a large proportion of workers get a living wage. Nobody Denim (again, Good) also trace their supply chain, ensuring a living wage for workers – they’re also accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. Then there’s emerging label By Walid (Good), which embraces the artisanal skills of owner Walid al Damirji and a small team who hand-make garments in-house using antique materials.

Planet

With climate change and plastic pollution hitting the headlines every week, we want to know that the clothes we buy are not trashing the planet. For the environment, we consider each brand’s use of resources and energy, whether they measure and reduce carbon emissions, their impacts on water, and how they use and dispose of chemicals. LA label Reformation (Good), brings eco into everyday pieces by using sustainable materials like Tencel, and re-using all its off-cuts. Fabric innovator Osklen (Good) creates luxury textiles from waste, and manufactures by hand to reduce climate emissions. In the realms of resortwear, there’s Mara Hoffman (Good), which targets waste with swimwear made from recycled plastic fishing nets. Buzzy British brand Bethany Williams (Good) creates streetwear from waste, and partners with social enterprises in her collections. EcoAlf (Good) embraces the great outdoors with eco-friendly and recycled materials, produced locally to reduce emissions.
Then there’s ethical fashion leader Stella McCartney (Good), who continues to push boundaries with her label. She’s adopted a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, uses eco-friendly materials, reduces harmful chemicals and wastewater and is a global pioneer for sustainable luxury fashion.

Animals

In the past few years a whole range of fashion brands have heeded the call from animal lovers and gone fur-free, but there are some other things to look for too. For our animal ratings we identify the use of fur, angora, down feather, shearling, karakul and exotic animal skin and hair. We also consider if wool has been produced using ‘mulesing’ and whether (and how) the brand uses leather. Stella McCartney is a leader here as well. As a committed vegetarian, Stella McCartney’s brand is one that has animal rights in its DNA. Her adidas by Stella McCartney (Good) collection even saw the release of the first vegan Stan Smith sneakers. On the boutique label side, Berlin-based GMBH and Rombaut (both It’s A Start), use no animal products, preferring eco-friendly and recycled materials.

The Good On You rating system focuses on how new fashion is made, because the biggest impact of fashion is in the supply chain. By shopping the Positively Conscious collection, you’re supporting pioneering brands that have made ethics and sustainability part of their identity, and joining people who are choosing fashion that takes care of people, the planet and animals. To build on your ethical wardrobe, it’s also worth looking at pre-owned garments and extending the life of your clothes my mending, altering and following care instructions.

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