How Ethical is Everlane?

By February 19, 2018Big Brands, Fashion, Featured
Everlane feature

How Ethical is Everlane? Does it live up to its claims of ‘radical transparency’ or is it merely radical marketing? We take a look at how the US retailer rates in terms of their environmental impact, labor rights and animal welfare.

Californian online retailer Everlane is synonymous with timeless styles at affordable prices. Everlane has built its brand with the tagline ‘radical transparency’ and positioned itself as a leader in ethical practice. It says it is committed to revealing the true costs behind all of its products — from materials, to labor, to transportation. But behind the sleek advertising campaigns and celebrity endorsements, how do Everlane’s claims stack up?

Environmental Impact: Not Good Enough

Everlane red topWhen it comes to the environment, despite its claim to ‘radical transparency’, there are big gaps in the information Everlane provides to the public — and on some issues, there is no information provided at all. That’s why we gave Everlane a rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ for environment when we last rated it in August 2017. As a shopper you have the right to know how a brand’s products impact our planet.
On the plus side, Everlane does reject passing trends — instead emphasising classic, well-made designs that are more likely to be worn for longer, a key characteristic of ethical fashion. And we were pleased to see that in September 2017 Everlane introduced a new denim line that addresses many of the serious environmental impacts of denim production.
While over 80% of Everlane’s line is made from biodegradable materials like leather, wool, cashmere, cotton and silk, most of these materials — particularly leather, wool and cotton — require a lot of energy and water to produce including the resources used to look after the animals.

We’d score Everlane higher if they were more transparent around their impact on the planet, and incorporated more eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and recycled wool across the full range of their products.

Labor Rights: Not Good Enough

When taken at face value, Everlane appears to do right by its workers.  The Everlane website includes a ‘Factories’ section which identifies many of the brand’s suppliers around the world, as well as providing pictures of the factories, short descriptions of how Everlane found the factory, the materials produced there, and information about the factory owner. Though publicly sharing a list of suppliers is a great step towards ‘radical transparency’, Everlane doesn’t state whether this is a complete list of suppliers. The list does not include any suppliers at the raw material stage.

What’s more, although the images provided depict good working conditions, it is difficult to confirm that they are truly representative of Everlane’s suppliers, as they were not provided (or audited) by an independent third party. It’s also unclear which part of the supply chain is audited and how often those audits occur. And finally, though Everlane states it has a ‘Vendor Code of Conduct’, unusually it does not disclose what it says — even many fast fashion brands manage to do that! As long as Everlane’s Code of Conduct is kept from public view, there is no guarantee that workers are being paid a decent wage, have a safe workplace, or benefit from empowerment initiatives.
To move towards actually delivering ‘radical transparency’, Everlane should make its Code of Conduct available to the public, provide a full list of suppliers and give more detail about its auditing processes.

Animal Welfare: Not Good Enough

everlane shoesEverlane does not use fur, angora, or exotic animal skin or hair in any of their products, but its score in this area suffers from its use of leather, wool and cashmere without stating the sources. The welfare of both animals and workers cannot be guaranteed when a brand does not list the source of animal-derived materials. Currently Everlane can only trace its Luxe Wool collection. Everlane needs to improve its transparency and the traceability of its materials, or even better, eliminate animal-derived materials in its products altogether.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough GoY-Ratings_2

We’ve given Everlane an overall rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ based on our own research. To its credit, Everlane focuses on timeless designs over short-lived trends and emphasises the high quality and craftsmanship of its products, and they acknowledges that brands ought to be transparent. But there are important ways in which Everlane fails to live up to its own hype. Ultimately, Everlane’s claims of ‘radical transparency’ just don’t stack up against its inability to trace most of its materials and its unwillingness to provide information on its environmental impact, auditing processes and its Code of Conduct.  As Lizzie Widdicombe rightly put it in The New Yorker, “In some ways, the most radical thing about Everlane is its marketing.

So for the conscious consumer Everlane is out, but luckily there are a number of other ethical brands offering timeless, well-made designs that do right by their workers, animals and the planet. Check out these alternative brands rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ on the free Good On You app!

Know the Origin  GoY-Ratings_5

know the origin resized

||High Neck Supersoft TopShips internationally||

Love the look of Everlane’s soft cashmere sweaters but want something that is kinder on the environment, workers and animals? This high-neck top from Know the Origin in made from super-soft Lenzing Modal. This is an eco-friendly material that requires only a small carbon footprint to produce and is manufactured from plant fibres derived from certified sustainably managed forests, so it’s animal-friendly too!

Reformation  GoY-Ratings_4

reformation jeans

||Liza High Straight JeanShips internationally||

Everlane are renowned for their denim, but US label Reformation give them a run for their money by making killer clothes that don’t kill the environment. A number of Reformation’s products, including these jeans, use various eco-friendly materials including deadstock that would otherwise end up in landfill! The brand also ensures that a large proportion of its suppliers pay a living wage. Go Reformation!

Beyond Skin  GoY-Ratings_4

Beyond skin vegan shoes

||Marion Block Heel Slingback ShoesShips internationally||

UK vegan footwear brand Beyond Skin make a beautiful range of shoes that not only do good by animals, but also the environment. These gorgeous kitten heels are made from eco-friendly materials including ‘Dinamica’ faux suede, which is made from 100% recycled PET plastics, soles made from 70% recycled rubber resin and insoles made from breathable faux leather.

For a limited time only, sign up to Beyond Skin’s newsletter through this link and receive $15 off your first order plus have an exclusive FREE SHIPPING code!

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Editor’s note: Ratings are correct at the time of publication.

Feature image via Everlane. Additional images via Everlane and brands mentioned.
Lara Robertson

Author Lara Robertson

Lara is a media student and writer at Good On You. She is a passionate vegan, bibliophile, fashionista and crazy cat lady, who hopes to spend her life writing about her passions and values.

More posts by Lara Robertson

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Mia Lee says:

    HI. i really appreciate all the information that is so conveniently put on this website and it has helped me out so much! I was wondering if you would be able to update Everlane’s rating as they recently started new campaigns (clean silk and renew). This would really help me a lot because, even though they claim to use recycled bottles, I understand that this might cost more oil, energy or water.

    • says:

      Thanks Mia. Everlane are scheduled for a review in the near future. We will update this article as well as the brand rating in the app when that is completed.

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