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20 Dec

How Ethical Is Jordan?

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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?

Environmental impact

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.”

Labour conditions

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.

Animal welfare

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.

See the rating.

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.

Iron Roots

Rated: Great
Someone in top and shorts by Iron Roots.

Iron Roots is a Dutch sportswear brand that makes all its apparel from plant-based fabrics. Its pieces effortlessly combine more responsible design and functionality.

Find most items in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Iron Roots.

KOHR

Rated: Great

KOHR is a UK-based slow fashion brand that designs and manufactures in house. The brand has three main focuses to ensure it’s responsibly innovative: longevity, versatility, and traceability.

Find the range in sizes S-XL or made to order.

See the rating.

Shop KOHR.

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
yellow sustainable skate shoes by Cariuma brand

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CARIUMA is a more sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

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REER3

Rated: Good
two images of people in clothing by REER3

Founded by a Brazilian-born fashion designer and artist based in Germany, REER3 stands for slow fashion streetwear in a reduced design, produced more sustainably. It uses lower-impact dyes and materials such as organically grown, GOTS certified cotton and recycled polyester, and it's 100% vegan.

Find the range in XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop REER3.

Katla

Rated: Good
person in hoodie with printed sleeves and sweatpants by Katla

With a modern aesthetic where style meets sustainability, Katla is a loungewear brand creating timeless essentials across menswear, womenswear, and kidswear. Stemming from its ethos to minimise fashion's impact on the environment, it follows anti-waste manufacturing principles in its limited production runs. Using innovative, lower-impact materials, it draws design inspiration from its Nordic roots offering luxurious conscious comfort.

Find the range in sizes 2XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Katla.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash. 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 thousands of rated brands.

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