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Calvin Klein is an iconic American brand. Sadly, it’s not doing enough for people, the planet, and animals, and has received an overall score of “It’s a Start”. Keep reading to learn more about the details of Calvin Klein’s rating. This article is based on the Calvin Klein rating published in September 2022.
CK’s ethics aren’t as crisp and clean as its boxer briefs
Calvin Klein is an iconic “all-American” brand known for its minimalist designs and men’s underwear revolution. With a long history as a sought after fashion brand, we had to know: how does Calvin Klein impact people, the planet, and animals? If we care about the planet and all its inhabitants, should we shop Calvin Klein or look for alternatives? Let’s find out once and for all: how ethical is Calvin Klein?
Calvin Klein is rated “Not Good Enough” for the planet, a drop from its previous “It’s a Start” score. First, the good: it uses some eco-friendly materials in its line, including organic cotton. It has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain, and it has a policy approved by CanopyStyle to prevent deforestation of ancient and endangered forests in its supply chain.
And the bad: while a climate target is great, there is sadly no evidence the brand is on track to meet said target, nor does it appear to mimimise any textile waste when manufacturing its products.
As above, Calvin Klein is making a start on improving labour conditions, and its score here has remained “It’s a Start”. Some of its supply chain is certified by FLA Workplace Code of Conduct including all of the final stage of production, and it received a score of 51-60% in the Fashion Transparency Index. We have to commend the brand for its transparency, as it likely publishes detailed information about its supplier policies, audits, and remediation processes, as well as a detailed list of suppliers in the final stage of production.
While we found some information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association, and it has a project to improve wages in its supply chain, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage. It has also been linked with sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang region in China at risk of using Uyghur forced labour and has taken insufficient steps to remediate. You can do better for people, CK.
Calvin Klein is simply “Not Good Enough” for the animals. While it does have a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms and traces some animal products to the first stage of production, it still uses leather, wool, and exotic animal hair. There are so many cruelty-free alternatives out there, so improving the score here is as easy as opting out of animal-derived fabrics.
Overall rating: It’s a Start
So, how ethical is Calvin Klein? Overall, we’ve rated Calvin Klein as “It’s a Start” based on our own research—you can read more in our post about what our “It’s a Start” rating really means. While the brand is making a start for people and the planet, it still needs to address its waste and emissions issues, and at the very least ensure payment of a living wage across its supply chain. It should also work to remove animal-derived fabrics from its products and opt for more eco-friendly, cruelty-free alternatives.
Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.
If CK’s ethics aren’t quite doing it for you, why not shop the brand second hand? Otherwise, we’ve found some “Good” and “Great” alternatives to meet your needs.
More sustainable alternatives to Calvin Klein