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Jordan, the Nike brand synonymous with basketball culture, falls short in addressing its impact on people, the planet, and animals. Let’s look at Jordan’s “It’s a Start” rating. This article is based on the Jordan rating published in May 2023 and may not reflect claims the brand has made since then. Our ratings analysts are constantly rerating the thousands of brands you can check on our directory.
Jordan’s taking steps in the right direction
Step into the world of Jordan, a renowned brand under the Nike umbrella, catapulted to stardom by its iconic Air Jordan line of basketball shoes, originally designed in the late 1980s for basketball legend Michael Jordan. Fast forward to today, Jordan’s legacy remains strong, with Air Jordan dominating the trainer market with sales surpassing $5bn last year. Dubbed by TIME as “the sneakers of a generation,” Jordans have transcended sportswear to become a cultural phenomenon.
But what lies behind the iconic Jumpman logo? How does the brand fare when it comes to the environment, labour conditions, and animal welfare? How is Jordan impacting people, the planet, and animals? In short, how ethical is Jordan?
Jordan’s environmental efforts are promising, but there’s room for improvement.
Jordan has incorporated a few lower-impact materials into its product lineup, and in a positive move to minimise waste, the brand reuses some of its textile offcuts. Jordan has also committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals by 2025, claiming it’s on track to meet its target. But while the brand has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both its direct operations and supply chain, we found no evidence the brand is on track to meet this target.
One thing that’s missing for us to give a higher rating is the lack of evidence regarding actions taken to protect biodiversity in the brand’s supply chain. “It’s a Start.”
Jordan also rates “It’s a Start” for people.
The brand has a certified social auditing program through the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and scored 51-60% in the 2022 Fashion Transparency Index, showcasing a decent level of transparency in its operations.
But while Jordan set up a foundational policy supporting diversity and inclusion within its supply chain, we still need concrete evidence that the brand ensures that workers are paid a living wage across its supply chain. As Jordan progresses, focusing on ensuring fair wages and worker wellbeing will be pivotal in improving its labour rating.
When it comes to animal welfare, Jordan faces some challenges that contribute to its “Not Good Enough” rating. The brand has a basic policy covering animal welfare, but the lack of clear implementation mechanisms raises concerns about the actual execution of these policies.
Jordan has stopped using fur, angora, exotic animal skin, or exotic animal hair, but it still uses leather, wool, down, and shearling in its products.
Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that Jordan traces any animal-derived materials to the first production stage, making it challenging to ensure the ethical sourcing of these components.
Jordan’s “Not Good Enough” rating in animal welfare underscores the importance of refining and implementing clear policies to protect and uphold the wellbeing of animals throughout its supply chain.
Overall rating: ‘It’s a Start’
Overall, we rate Jordan “It’s a Start.” The brand is making strides but still has significant ground to cover for a higher rating. The brand needs to be more transparent, particularly in environmental impact tracking, and ensure workers throughout its supply chain are paid a living wage. Jordan must ensure it communicates its progress and stays on track for reduced emissions and hazardous chemical elimination targets.
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.
Looking for more ethical alternatives to Jordan? We listed some “Good” and “Great” brands below to consider when shopping for products similar to Jordan’s offerings. These alternatives prioritise sustainability, more responsible labour practices, and animal welfare.
Note that while our editors are fans of the more sustainable brands listed below, we recognise they may not meet your current needs. They may be out of your price range or don’t stock your size. If you really need something and a product from a brand rated “It’s a Start”, like Jordan, seems the best option, then you might have questions about the “It’s a Start” rating.
In short, “It’s a Start” means just that—the brand is making a start. Good On You’s middling rating indicates that the brand has a long way to go but is also doing more than its competitors. Jordan is already ahead of comparable brands. And if your options are Jordan or, say, New Balance (“Not Good Enough”), which is making little to no effort for people, the planet, and animals, Jordan is a clear winner—progress over perfection.
You can also reach out to brands that 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.