How Ethical Is Gap? - Good On You
woman wearing blue cardigan by gap
27 Jan
woman wearing blue cardigan by gap

How Ethical Is Gap?

Founded in 1969 in California, fast fashion giant Gap has almost 4,000 stores worldwide. Over the decades Gap has built its name as a household favourite and go-to for fashionable and affordable clothing. But how ethical is Gap when it comes to its policies on labour rights, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare?

Environmental Impact

Gap’s environment rating is ‘It’s A Start’. On the plus side, Gap demonstrates leadership in managing water use in its supply chain—it received an ‘A’ in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) water security questionnaire! It also uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials, though there is no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products. And while it has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain, there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target. Further work is definitely needed if Gap wishes to be ‘Good’ for the planet!

Labour Conditions

Unfortunately, Gap is ‘Not Good Enough’ when it comes to labour conditions. It received a score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index, as none of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages, or other labour rights. While the brand publishes a detailed list of suppliers in the final stage of production and some information about the second stage of production, as well as some information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association, the good news ends there. There is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain, and it discloses inadequate policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. There’s still plenty of room for improvement here, Gap.

Animal Welfare

Gap is also ‘Not Good Enough’ for the animals. It has a basic formal policy to protect animal welfare, which is a step in the right direction, and it doesn’t use fur, down, or exotic animal skin. However, it uses leather, wool, and exotic animal hair without stating sources. There is also no evidence it traces any animal products to the first stage of production. This means we can’t be sure about the welfare of the animals or workers involved in the production process!

Overall Rating: It’s A Start

We’ve rated Gap ‘It’s A Start’ overall based on our own research. Though Gap has some promising environmental measures in place, it still needs to make changes in all areas, especially when it comes to paying a living wage to its workers. 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.

See the rating.

The good news? There are plenty of brands out there that are not only reliable and on-trend, but are committed to reducing their impact on the environment, minimising harm to animals, and supporting the people that make our clothes.

Good Swaps

Ethical alternatives to Gap

Honest Basics

Rated: Great
woman wearing sustainable white t-shirt by honest basics

Honest Basics is a GOTS-certified basics brand based in Germany. It's on a mission to make sustainable fashion accessible to everyone, by keeping prices low, making quality basics that everyone has in their wardrobe, and constantly improving the sustainability of its products and supply chain. The range is available in sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Honest Basics.

Little Emperor (2-8 years)

Rated: Great
girl wearing pink little emperor t-shirt

Little Emperor creates unique, functional, and hard-wearing clothing for children. Its affordable clothing is made from environmentally friendly organic cotton, with every garment designed in Sydney, Australia and made in a Sedex-approved factory ensuring living wages and safe working conditions for workers. From the materials and packaging, right down to the energy supplier and banking, Little Emperor is dedicated to environmentally friendly practice. Named in honour of the adorable Emperor Penguin, Little Emperor is a member of 1% for the Planet, meaning 1% of sales are donated to environmental non-profits, helping protect the penguins’ home.

See the rating.

Shop Little Emperor.

PACT

Rated: Great

PACT is a brand that is passionate about being part of a movement transforming the way apparel is made. All of its clothing is sweatshop-free and child-labour-free, and its activewear range is almost entirely made from certified organic cotton, with more than 50% also certified as Fair Trade. Find PACT in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop PACT.

Amour Vert

Rated: Good
A woman with curly hair and a blue top looking down.

Amour Vert creates beautiful sustainable staples in San Francisco, California. Its final stage of production is done in the US and it works closely with suppliers in all of its supply chain. The brand also uses only eco-friendly materials and promotes a zero-waste strategy. The range is available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Amour Vert.

Encircled

Rated: Good

Encircled creates ethically-made, versatile women's fashion for life and travel. Its collections are made in Canada from sustainable and eco-conscious fabrics.

See the rating.

Shop Encircled.

We love these sustainable brands listed above, but they may not meet your specific needs right now. Maybe they’re out of your price range, or don’t stock your size. If you really need something and a product from Gap is the best option, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about buying it! ‘It’s A Start’ means just that—the brand is making a start. If your options are Gap or a brand like SHEIN that is making little to no effort for people, the planet, and animals, Gap is a clear winner. Progress over perfection!

You can also reach out to brands who you think need a little nudge in the right direction. If enough customers demand change, brands that truly care about their impact will have no choice but to respond in kind. Check out the ‘Your Voice’ function on the app or slide into their DMs on social media to let them know what you think.

Editor's note

Feature image via Gap, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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