For consumers For business
04 Dec

How Do the Most Popular Luxury Fashion Brands Rate?

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.


Is all that glitters green? Not necessarily. Our comprehensive data on fashion brands reveals a mixed reality for the luxury sector. The gist? Despite their high price tags, many big and popular luxury brands still fall short on sustainability. The trend is more positive among smaller luxury labels, where a significant number are making commendable progress. Let’s take a closer look at the true cost of couture.

The rise of conscious luxury

In a world marked by a cost-of-living crisis and persisting inflation, the luxury fashion industry seems to stand resilient, charting its course despite the economic turbulence. In fact, McKinsey and Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion 2023 reported that while the broader fashion industry was set to grapple with uncertainty last year, the luxury sector expected a 5-10% growth, fueled primarily by the unyielding spending habits of “wealthy shoppers [who] continue to travel and spend, and thus remain more insulated from the effects of hyperinflation,” particularly in China and the United States.

As the luxury market keeps expanding, so does the call for a more conscious fashion industry. A recent report from FARFETCH underscored this shift, demonstrating a significant rise in global demand for conscious fashion and beauty products, with searches for “Conscious” product terms on FARFETCH have surged by an impressive 78% year-on-year.

Now, the big question: does shelling out big bucks for luxury labels mean you’re supporting more ethical practices? Not necessarily. Good On You’s recent assessment of 30 large luxury brands found only one scoring a “Good” overall rating. It’s time to uncover the truth behind the shimmering facade.

Here we’re taking a close look at how the most popular luxury brands measure up when it comes to their impacts on people, the planet, and animals. But before we dive in, let’s check out what Good On You’s data tells us about the sustainable landscape of the luxury fashion sector.

Luxury brands are still not doing enough

Looking at our data on luxury brands, the conclusion is pretty clear: most luxury fashion brands aren’t doing enough to improve or reduce their impact on people, the planet, and animals:

  • Only 11% of large luxury brands managed to secure a “Good” or “Great” overall rating. And among the 30 most popular luxury brands we assessed for this article, only one out of 30 achieved a “Good” rating.
  • A mere 12% of luxury brands manage rate “Good” or “Great” for the planet. Digging deeper, just 26% of large luxury brands have set science-based greenhouse gas emissions targets. What’s more concerning is that of those with targets, only 29% disclose whether they’re on track to meet them. When it comes to lessening their environmental footprint, large luxury fashion brands are, by and large, missing the mark.
  • Most luxury brands are doing very little for people, with 75% of these brands scoring “Not Good Enough” or below. The exploitation of workers within luxury supply chains remains a pressing concern.
  • According to a report by Four Paws in partnership with Good On You, the luxury sector averages a meagre 23% in commitment to animal welfare. Even with exceptions like Stella McCartney, the sector as a whole falls short.

This being said, it’s worth noting that the luxury sector operates on a different scale from fast fashion, producing less but at higher price points. While this may imply less waste and environmental pollution, it doesn’t absolve luxury brands of responsibility. In fact, it emphasises their obligation to care for workers within their supply chains. But while acknowledging differences, we firmly believe that accountability applies to all brands, irrespective of their position within the industry or price point.

The top rated luxury fashion brand on Good On You

Most of the popular luxury fashion brands we looked at score “It’s a Start” or below. Only one brand is standing out from the pack and is leading the way in luxury fashion, making substantial strides in improving conditions for people, the planet, and animals.

Stella McCartney

Rated: Good

A member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Stella McCartney has set some excellent environmental standards across the luxury fashion industry. Stella uses some lower-impact materials, including recycled polyester and organic cotton, and has a strategy in place to reduce waste across its entire supply chain. It has also adopted the ETI Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition.

Find most items in sizes 34-52.

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Stella McCartney Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Stella McCartney.

The luxury brands that are making a start

The brand below is making a start in one or more areas, and has received our middling score of “It’s a Start”. We recommend purchasing them second hand from a platform like Vestiaire Collective, which authenticates pre-loved luxury goods and resells them for well below the market value.

Gucci (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Founded in 1921, Gucci is an Italian luxury fashion house that produces menswear, womenswear, as well as shoes, bags, and other accessories. The brand has good policies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but still uses exotic animal skin. The good news is that you can find many of Gucci’s modern luxury pieces second hand.

See the rating.

Shop Gucci Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Burberry (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Burberry is a British luxury fashion house known for its timeless beige trench coats. The brand has good policies to monitor suppliers, but it still uses exotic animal products. Shopping Burberry second hand allows us to add items to our wardrobe without using additional resources in the manufacturing process, to keep clothes out of landfills, and to (re)discover Burberry’s unique and special pieces along the way.

See the rating.

Shop Burberry @ Vestiaire Collective.

Saint Laurent (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Yves Saint Laurent, or as it’s now known, Saint Laurent, is a French luxury fashion house founded by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. The brand has good policies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

See the rating.

Shop Saint Laurent @ Vestiaire Collective.

Balenciaga (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga in San Sebastián. The Kering-owned brand has been making some efforts to reduce its environmental impact, setting targets to reduce its direct and indirect emissions, and implementing initiatives to reduce water use.

See the rating.

Shop Balenciaga Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Bottega Veneta (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Born in Italy in 1966, Bottega Veneta prides itself on creating a new definition of luxury. Another Kering brand, Bottega Veneta has made progress for the environment, including releasing a public commitment to reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

Find the shoes in sizes 34-42.

See the rating.

Shop Bottega Veneta @ Vestiaire Collective.

Alexander McQueen (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

The iconic British fashion house, owned by Kering and now run by Sarah Burton (who designed Catherine Middleton’s dress for her wedding to Prince William), is characterised by theatrical and bright styling. Alexander McQueen is on the right path and stands out from the majority of luxury fashion houses.

See the rating.

Shop Alexander McQueen @ Vestiaire Collective.

Hugo Boss

Rated: It's A Start

Known for its sharp tailoring, sleek designs, and commitment to classic elegance, German brand Hugo Boss is synonymous with sophisticated menswear. While the brand has started improving its environmental practices, including publishing a biodiversity policy, it’s not quite there yet when it comes to paying a living wage and protecting animals in its supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Hugo Boss Pre-Owned @Vestiare Collective.

The luxury brands conscious shoppers are better off avoiding

This list contains brands rated our bottom two scores of “Not Good Enough” and “We Avoid”. The conscious consumer should steer clear of supporting these harmful or opaque brands, which are either making no moves to change their production practices for the better or simply don’t publish enough (or any) information about their current practices. You have a right to know how the products you buy impact the issues you care about.

Luxury brands rated ‘Not Good Enough’

Luxury brands rated ‘We Avoid’

Discover the top rated luxury brands

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 thousansd 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.