How To Make Noise

Ethical Fashion 101: Assessing the Big Brands

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We’re not all Abraham Lincoln: We don’t all have the platform or the power to influence governments or other influential groups of people.

But if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that the power of the people should not be underestimated.

We saw the good of people power when gay marriage was allowed in 22 countries around the globe, and the not-so-good when a covfefe loving bully became the president of the United States.

These demonstrations of people power should make it evident that when enough people make noise, change occurs.

We advocate that the smallest bit of noise can have large effects, so today we’re going to talk about how you can fight slavery through your shopping decisions.

We know this is going to roll a few eyes, but hear us out; we don’t want you to only shop at farmer’s markets, go level five vegan or anything drastic.

Instead, we’re going to give you a some basic information as to how your favourite brands address the issue of forced labour. Some big brands are doing well, though it seems that others haven’t responded to, or learnt from, the criticism that they have received in the past. With this information, you can then go out and make Honest Abe proud.

We’ll start with the obvious two: Adidas and Nike. After the sweatshop controversies of the 90s and 2000s, both companies have made efforts to improve how they create their products. However, Adidas are doing way better than Nike are for ensuring their products are made and sourced ethically.

Adidas’ Supplier Code of Conduct is highly regarded as one of the best in the business and most of its supply chain is traceable, making them one of the most transparent big brands.

Nike on the other hand has not made such advancements. While they have taken positive steps in ensuring their Supplier Code of Conduct maintains a high standard, they seem to have reverted to their old ways early this year by denying the Worker’s Rights Consortium access to any of its suppliers’ factories. This has done more than raise a few eyebrows as it essentially throws away a major tool in ensuring the enforcement of worker’s rights.

The situation with Nike needs to be monitored, but as it stands we urge you to buy Adidas instead of Nike. Reebok are owned by Adidas as well, so they too are a great option.


“Buy Adidas instead of Nike”


Expensive designer brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have been reluctant to disclose how their products are made, which is more than a little concerning considering the price tags associated with them. With no transparency within these companies, it is difficult to say whether what they are doing is right or wrong. We advise caution.

Conversely, H&M and Zara have been credited for their transparency, releasing the names of their sources and informing the public on how their products are made. Their Supplier Code of Conducts have also been positively received, but they could both be doing more to enforce the rights of their workers.

It should also be noted that H&M have some question marks hovering over them in relation to their environmental impact, but in terms of fair trade they are above the luxury brands mentioned above—so don’t be mad if your boyfriend buys you presents from H&M instead of Prada; he’s being a lot more thoughtful than you think.

Vans have improved their fair trade efforts, with their labour policies, auditing and supplier relationships held in high regard. Similarly to H&M, they could be doing more in regard to the enforcement of their workers’ rights. We don’t recommend them, but we do not condemn them either. We expect them to make further improvements in the future.

Timberland, too, have been commended for their strong labour policies, auditing and supplier relationships, but they also fall down when it comes to enforcing the rights of their workers. However, they have taken the additional step of ensuring that a living wage is implemented for workers and these wages are constantly being improved. Because of these efforts, we recommend them.

Overall, many big brands have realised the importance of fair trade and ethical sourcing. While some big brands such as Nike, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Chanel still have a lot of work to do, it is positive to see other big brands becoming ethical and responsible—with Adidas leading the charge.

Did we miss any of your favourites? If you want to know how your any other brands measure up or if you would like more information on the above brands, drop us a comment below. We also recommend downloading the Good On You app for your phones, which is where most of the above information has been sourced from. It has a huge list of brands and information on how they are sourced, as well as listing alternative options for the deplorable ones.

Make Noise.


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