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10 Feb

How Ethical Is & Other Stories?

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At first glance, Swedish fashion label & Other Stories appears to be doing a lot right. With small design ateliers in Stockholm, Paris, and Los Angeles; a minimalistic approach to product collections that are both trendy and timeless, and collaborations with independent designers, including one titled “The Sustainable Collection”, you would be forgiven for assuming the brand is ticking all the right boxes! But if we dig a little deeper, just what kind of stories is this H&M-owned brand telling with its actions for people, the planet, and animals? Just how ethical is & Other Stories? This article is based on the & Other Stories rating published in February 2022.

Environmental Impact

The first and most important thing to know when thinking about the sustainability of & Other Stories is that it is owned by H&M. While it prides itself on its points of difference, like smaller collections and in-house design, the fact remains that everything that goes on behind the scenes is done by H&M. So, what then does the environmental impact of & Other Stories look like?

Well, to put it simply, the brand is making a start. Its rating of ‘It’s A Start’ in this category is signalled by a few key things. Firstly, it uses some eco-friendly materials, like organic cotton. In its Sustainable Collection mentioned earlier, it featured other good fabrics like Lyocell as well. It also has a policy approved by CanopyStyle to prevent deforestation of ancient and endangered forests in its supply chain, which is another positive. But here’s the kicker: like parent-company H&M, it’s a fast fashion brand. This means on-trend styles and too-regular new arrivals. On top of that, it has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain—cool!—buuuut there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target. Not so cool. The goal is also set for 2040, which in climate crisis terms is a literal world away.

Labour Conditions

Here, again, & Other Stories—basically, H&M—is doing some things right, and some things not-so-right. That’s why it gets ‘It’s A Start’ for people, too.

Almost none of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages, or other labour rights, which is a big red flag. However, at least it’s more transparent than a lot of other big brands out there: it publishes detailed information about its suppliers and supply chain policies, and received a decent score of 71-80% in the Fashion Transparency Index. While it has a project to improve wages in its supply chain, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage. It also discloses some policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19, but again, implementation is uncertain. While it’s a good start to let the public see behind the curtain, perhaps improving what is actually going on back there would improve the brand’s score here. Ensuring payment of a living wage, for one thing! Considering H&M Group rakes in almost $2 billion worth of profit every year, this shouldn’t be out of reach.

In mid-2020, & Other Stories came under fire for the use of a racial slur on an internal system. This isn’t a one-off incident, and H&M especially has had its share of issues with BIPOC representation over the years. The brand did respond immediately by removing the offensive term and the one who wrote it from the company, and said it would be “undertaking conscious and unconscious bias training for employees, as well as increasing diversity on the management teams and the board of directors.” Let’s hope it sticks to its word!

Animal Welfare

For the animals, too, & Other Stories gets ‘It’s A Start’. On the one hand, the brand has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms. It uses down accredited by the Responsible Down Standard, and states that it sources wool from non-mulesed sheep. You also won’t find any fur, angora, or exotic animal skin in the garments. On the other hand, it only traces some animal products, and only to the first stage of production. It also uses leather and exotic animal hair without disclosing their origins. This means the welfare of the animals in the supply chain can’t be guaranteed. We can only hope the brand sticks to its goal of using only fabrics that are “recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030”, and that it clarifies what that means, exactly.

Overall Rating: It’s A Start

It will come as no surprise that & Other Stories, much like H&M, has received an overall rating of ‘It’s A Start’ for all the reasons mentioned above. 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.

While the brand is taking some good steps across the board, it still has a way to go before it can be considered an ethical or sustainable brand by consumers in the know.

See the rating.

Luckily, there are a myriad of similar brands out there doing their bit for people, the planet, and animals. Take a look below!

Good Swaps

Ethical alternatives to & Other Stories

People Tree

Rated: Great

Conscious fashion pioneer and leader People Tree is a seriously more responsible brand. It uses lower-impact materials and addresses labour risks by adopting the Fairtrade International - Small Producers Organisations Code of Conduct.

Find most products in UK sizes 6-18.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree EU.

Shop People Tree @ Wearwell.

Amour Vert

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

Amour Vert creates beautiful, more 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 lower-impact materials and promotes an anti-waste strategy.

The range is available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Amour Vert.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good

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.


Rated: Good
Someone on roof wearing clothes by Afends.

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a more responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, it purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow its own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.


Rated: Not Good Enough

MANNING CARTELL is a designer brand that is ethically-made in Australia and committed to creativity, inclusivity and igniting joy. This Australian brand was created by three sisters, creating for women, who understand how women want to look and feel.

See the rating.

Shop MANNING CARTELL Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Editor's note

Feature image via & Other Stories, 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. We love to recommend some of the best sustainable brands, rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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