For consumers For business
21 Jun

How Ethical Is Old Navy?

Our editors curate highly rated brands that are first assessed by our rigorous ratings system. Buying through our links may earn us a commission—supporting the work we do. Learn more.

 

Old Navy, the popular fashion retailer known for its affordable and trendy clothing, has gained widespread recognition for its basics. But when it comes to ethics, how does Old Navy measure up? How ethical is Old Navy? Here we dive into the brand’s “It’s a Start” rating, which was published in September 2022 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.

A more affordable version of Gap, but at what cost?

Founded in 1994, Old Navy is an American fashion company owned by Gap Inc. The brand, named after a bar in Paris, prides itself on being a less expensive version of Gap, offering “fashion essentials” for all the family. It’s become one of the largest brands in the world, with more than 1000 stores. But with “prices you can’t believe”, we can’t help but wonder how the brand impacts people, the planet, and animals. How ethical is Old Navy?

Environmental impact

Old Navy uses some lower-impact materials, including recycled materials, and demonstrates leadership in managing water use in its supply chain, by implementing water reduction initiatives, which we commend.

But while Old Navy has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain, we found no evidence it is on track to meet its target. Plus, it doesn’t appear to minimise textile waste when manufacturing its products.

For these reasons, we rate Old Navy “It’s a Start” for its environmental impact

Labour conditions

Unfortunately, in 2021 Old Navy’s labour rating went down from “It’s a Start” to “Not Good Enough” and has not improved since then. This can be explained by the fact that none of Old Navy’s supply chain is certified by labour standards that ensure worker health and safety or other labour rights.

In addition to this, the brand has made little progress towards ensuring payment of a living wage in its supply chain or disclosing adequate policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. The brand also received a score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index.

Animal welfare

On a more positive note, Old Navy’s animal rating went up from “Not Good Enough” to “It’s a Start”. The brand has a general statement about minimising animal suffering but not a formal animal welfare policy. And while it doesn’t use leather, fur, angora, down, exotic animal hair, or exotic animal skin, it still uses wool (with no evidence it traces any animal products to the first stage of production).

Overall rating: It’s a Start

So, how ethical is Old Navy? Based on our research, we rate Old Navy “It’s a Start”.

The brand has a mixed track record: while it does use some lower-impact materials, which is good, it must intensify its efforts to minimise its impact on people and animals. The brand should start by making sure its workers are treated fairly and are paid a living wage, and trace its wool sourcing, ensuring it is mulesing-free.

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.

Luckily, we’ve found some more sustainable alternatives to Old Navy.

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to Old Navy

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

Offers

Female presenting person wearing black top and jeans shorts from Whimsy + Row brand

Whimsy + Row – Sales

Whimsy + Row carries a mixture of curated vintage and contemporary lines providing ease and elegance for the modern woman. Final Sale: Up to 70% off selected styles (Ends: 20 JUN)

Shop now

Whimsy + Row is a US-based lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and responsible practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern woman. Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, and by limiting each garment to short runs, the brand also reduces packaging waste and takes care of precious water resources.

Find most products in XS-XL, with an extended sizing range up to 3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Shop Whimsy + Row @ Earthkind.

Kotn

Rated: Good
two people holding each other, one in a black long sleeved turtleneck and the other in white, both wearing light blue jeans by Kotn

Certified B Corp Kotn is based in Canada and works with local NGOs on the ground at the Nile Delta to provide every child in their farming communities with quality education, and to help close the gap of low literacy rates amongst communities. With every purchase, not only will you get a beautifully made garment, but you'll also help fund school infrastructure, materials, and salaries for teachers.

Find Kotn in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Kotn.

PACT

Rated: Good

PACT is a US-based 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-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop PACT.

MATE the Label

Rated: Good

MATE the Label creates clean essentials made with GOTS certified organic fabrics and lower-impact dyes. Its goal is to offer women everywhere a clean product that is just as beautiful as it is responsible. It is proudly female-founded and is predominately operated by women. This US brand also manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

Find the range in inclusive sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop MATE the Label.

Outerknown

Rated: Good

Founded by surf champion Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a more responsible brand that aims to blend style and function with the protection of natural resources. The brand is Bluesign certified and has partnered with the Fair Labour Association.

Find the range in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Outerknown.

Shop Outerknown @ Wearwell.

Dawn Denim

Rated: Great

Dawn Denim is a German denim brand striving to empower women to change the way clothes are made, sold and worn. Making your butt look good in jeans is a welcome side effect.

Find the jeans in XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Dawn Denim.

Shop Dawn Denim @ Cerqular.

ABLE

Rated: Good

ABLE is a US-based clothing and accessories brand that works with communities all over the world to make a meaningful impact, producing slow fashion that pays a living wage to women who have faced extraordinary circumstances. It uses lower-impact materials, and reuses water and materials to minimise waste. With thoughtful design and a level of quality that guarantees its products for life, its pieces aren't just an investment for your wardrobe, they are an investment in women around the world.

Find the range in sizes 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop ABLE.

Fair Indigo

Rated: Great
Someone in top, cardigan and jeans by Fair Indigo.

Fair Indigo is a US-based brand that creates more sustainable clothing not only for the planet, but for the human beings involved in your clothing's journey from the cotton farms to your closet. Instead of racing to the bottom, it is aspiring to the top.

Its premium quality organic clothing collections are available in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Fair Indigo.

Jamie + The Jones

Rated: Good

This Nashville based label believes in creating beautiful pieces you’ll want to live in while supporting cherished textile traditions. All of its garments (excluding its J+J Organic Knits) are designed, produced, and packaged in a Nashville studio and delivered to your door.

Its quality crafted pieces have you covered from sizes XS to 4XL that embody beautiful silhouettes and cuts.

See the rating.

Shop Jamie + The Jones.

unspun

Rated: Great
image looking up at four people dressed in Unspun

unspun is an American brand, fostering a denim world that reduces global carbon emissions by 1% through a zero-inventory and anti-waste process.

Its product sizing is totally customisable to ensure you always find the perfect fit.

See the rating.

Shop unspun.

Shop unspun @ Cerqular.

We love these more 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 Old Navy 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 Old Navy or a brand like SHEIN that is making little to no effort for people, the planet, and animals, Old Navy 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 Unsplash, 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 thousands of rated brands.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.