How sustainable are your favourite brands?

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Casual clothes are seldom sustainable

At the start of 2015, we’ve adapted more stringent criteria for the clothing sectors. Now, twelve months and over 400 clothing brands later, we publish the results of the final clothing sector we have ranked: casual clothing. Similar to what we have seen in the other sectors, many brands do not live up to the demands of our improved criteria. In general, the casual clothing sector shows lower scores and none of the brands receive an A label anymore. Nevertheless, multiple brands still show to be well on their way to being more sustainable.

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Eight frontrunners
Among the more than 80 brands in the casual clothing sector, there are eight frontrunners scoring a B label: the British brand People Tree and the German brands Kollateralschaden, Hessnatur, Waschbär, armedangels, Bleed, Greenality, and Recolution, many of which are available outside of Germany as well. These brands especially perform well in the areas of environmental policy and labour conditions. Kollateralschaden stands out because its entire production takes place in Berlin. Because of this, the brand receives a score of 100% for labour conditions, which is a rare achievement.

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One of the most important problems in the fashion industry is the bad labour conditions for factory workers. Only at Kollateralschaden payment of a living wage during apparel manufacturing can be considered realized, as this brands manufacturers in Germany only. Furthermore, four brands publish a list of suppliers, namely Kollateralschaden (its own atelier), best online casino People Tree, Recolution, and Monki (part of H&M). Publishing this data shows that these brands commit to transparency and oblige themselves to respond to misconduct in the factories of their suppliers. Through this data, interested third parties are able to research independently if these brands indeed follow labour regulations. Finally, all frontrunners stand out because of their use of environmentally friendly materials. Knowledge Cotton Apparel also uses at least 90% environmentally preferred materials. These are materials like organic cotton and linen, or recycled materials made from cotton, nylon or plastic bottles.

Taking a step back
Because of the more stringent criteria, almost every brand receives a lower score on our sustainability index. A majority (approximately 90%) of brands receives a C label or lower. Sixty-six percent even receives the lowest score, the E label. Because of this low performance, we advise not to purchase these brands until they show improvements. Many brands do not or barely report on reducing their carbon emissions, banning hazardous chemicals, using environmentally friendlier packaging materials, or reducing waste. Among the worst performing brands we find names like French Connection, CarharttStone Island, Lands’ End, and Fossil. We hope these brands take an example of the frontrunners, who prove that a different approach is possible.

Free fall Freitag
Freitag recently experienced a drastic fall in its sustainability performance. This Swiss brand strongly increased in popularity over the last years and moved part of its production from Switserland to riskier countries like Bulgaria and Tunisia. Unfortunately, Freitag does not yet communicate about labour conditions in the factories in these countries. Because of this, the brand now received a D label instead of an A label. The Dutch brands Cora Kemperman and Gaastra showed similar reductions in their results. Cora Kemperman’s score decreased from a B label to a D label and Gaastra’s score went from a C label to an E label.

Help make sustainability more fashionable
While there are a couple of positive exceptions, the whole casual clothing sector performs poorly. The complete list of this research can be found on the overview page of casual clothing. We of course like to see better results, so look up your brand and nudge it in the right direction. This can be done by sending them a message through their page on our website.

To be able to do our work, we need your support. Besides your contribution as a responsible consumer making informed decisions using our website, you can also support us financially or by helping in our research as a volunteer. Do you want to be kept up date about our research of the sustainability performance of well-known brands? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, subscribe to our newsletter through our website.

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