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: are CK’s ethics as crisp and clean as its boxer briefs? 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 it rated ‘It’s A Start’ for the planet. 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.
CK’s score in this area has risen from ‘Not Good Enough’, so the brand is clearly making some progress. But it still has a way to go before it can be considered ‘Good’ for the environment.
As above, Calvin Klein is making a start on improving labour conditions, and its score here has risen from ‘Not Good Enough’ to ‘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 also discloses policies to protect suppliers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19—but not workers! 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-based 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-based fabrics from its products and opt for eco-friendly, cruelty-free alternatives.
Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s 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.
Sustainable alternatives to Calvin Klein