Ethical fashion rankings: The top and bottom brands (and those who declined)

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Twenty20

Baptist World Aid (BWA) together with Tearfund New Zealand has released this year’s Ethical Fashion Report

The ninth edition since the initiative’s inception in 2013, it is said to be the largest and most transparent yet, reviewing 120 companies that represent 581 brands – 161 more than last year.

Ethical fashion rankings: The top and bottom brands (and those who declined)
Source: BWA

The report focuses on six key issues in the supply chain: tracing materials beyond final stage, payment of living wages, remediation of labour exploitation, support for worker voice and empowerment, the use of sustainable materials and commitment to climate action.

“While it’s positive to see progress among some brands committed to improving their ethical supply chains in the last year, overall, this year’s Ethical Fashion Report is sobering reading for shoppers, investors and leaders in the fashion industry,” said Sara Knop, corporate advocacy lead, BWA. 

“It’s time for brands to prioritise action over rhetoric, to move from policies and commitments to tangible outcomes that support vulnerable workers and our vulnerable planet.”

However, the report has also received criticism from companies with several brands who declined to participate in this year’s review. 

The brands who boycotted this year’s BWA fashion report

In a grading system from A+ to F, the ethical report uses a percentage score out of 100. While the boycotting brands commended the change from previous years, they remain unsatisfied, urging BWA to adopt a fairer system. 

“By attempting to aggregate the enormous complexity of the apparel manufacturing supply chain into one score, the Ethical Fashion Report fails to deliver a truly representative picture to consumers – in fact it misleads them more than it educates them,” said Jacinta Fitzgerald, sustainability consultant at Made Good.

Outland, Etiko, and Joyya, are some of the brands who declined to participate in this year’s BWA ethical report, with Outland Denim’s founder, James Bartle, calling it “potentially one of the greatest setbacks to the ethical and environmental sustainability movements I’ve witnessed in the past 10 years”.

The brands are also calling out to the organisation to change elements of the grading system.

Some of the suggestions include:

  • Improve details displayed on tiles, and include leadership in paying living wages.
  • For brands that can still be on the top tier despite having low scores (50 per cent below) on Human Rights and Worker Empowerment.
  • The top tier be made up of brands that scored 80 per cent to 100, and not brands that scored in the top 20 percentile.

Australian retailer The Iconic added that reducing the complexities involved in supply chain management into a single score is potentially misleading.

“Significant time and resources required to respond to the BWA questionnaire are better spent on our continued work with our supply chain,” the retailer said.

BWA responds: “report works”

Knop responded to the boycotts and said she stands by the reporting system, which has evolved over the years to “better respect workers and protect the environment”.

She said the report works and can be seen in the progress regular entrants were making. Last year, the average score for brands was 32.5 versus 34.85 this year.

Companies included in the report for the first time this year performed a lot worse, however, with an average score of just 9.7.

“There is more demand than ever for detail about the supply chains of fashion companies, which is why we’d urge all brands to strive for transparency and for global citizens to leverage their power to influence change by using this year’s report and the online Brand Finder tool to make more ethical decisions,” she concluded.

With its mission to end poverty, BWA Australia has published the Ethical Fashion Report since 2013. As one of Australia’s leading publications on ethical fashion, the Ethical Fashion Report and Guide helps consumers make better choices based on thorough data from 120 companies representing almost 600 brands.

Ethical rankings: The top and bottom fashion labels

The top 10

Mighty Good Basics (Score: 86)

Patagonia 68

AS Colour 66

Zara Home 60

Zara 60

Uterque 60

Stradivarius 60

Pull&Bear 60

Oysho 60

Bershka 60

  • Note: Zara, Uterque, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Bershka, and Oysho are all owned by Spanish-headquartered multinational fashion retail giant Inditex. Uterque is now sold under the Massimo Dutti banner.

The bottom 10

2XU

Hannahs

Nine West

Novo Shoes

Number One Shoes

Sheike

Windsor Smith

Anaconda

Bardot

Harris Scarfe

All of the above brands scored just 1, except 2XU which excluded itself.

Declined listing

Viable Earth asked BWA which specific brands declined to join this year’s report and it responded that the brands were marked with an “*” asterisk sign in the Appendix section of the Ethical Fashion Report.

Companies with an asterisk beside their score have been assessed on public information only (company webpages, annual/sustainability reports, and modern slavery statements),” BWA told Viable Earth.

“This may be because they have chosen to only provide evidence through their public transparency initiatives or because they have opted not to engage.”

The brands that openly boycotted the report:

  1. Outland
  2. Etiko
  3. Joya

The brands who declined to participate, but were still included on BWA’s website with a score included:

  1. 2XU
  2. 206 Collective 
  3. 28 Palms
  4. 7Goals
  5. A for Awesome
  6. Abercombie & Fitch
  7. Abercrombie Kids
  8. Active Intent
  9. Active Steps
  10. Aerie
  11. Alan Pinkus
  12. Allbirds
  13. Amazon Basics
  14. Amazon Essentials
  15. Amco
  16. Anaconda
  17. An’D
  18. Arabella
  19. Artengo
  20. Arthur Harvey
  21. Athlete
  22. Atmos&Here
  23. Auricle
  24. Back Country
  25. Banana Republic
  26. Bardot
  27. Bardot Jr
  28. Barkers
  29. Basics Brand
  30. Basics Maternity
  31. Bdoco
  32. Beach Works
  33. Billabong
  34. Birkenstock
  35. Bisley Workwear
  36. Blue Denim Co
  37. Blue Illusion
  38. Blundstone
  39. Bogs
  40. Buttoned Down
  41. Cable Stitch
  42. Calvin Klein
  43. Cat Footwear
  44. Chaco
  45. City Beach
  46. Coastal Blue
  47. Comfort Denim Outfitters
  48. Common District
  49. Core 10
  50. Culture Kings
  51. Daily Ritual
  52. Dazie
  53. DC Shoes
  54. Debut
  55. Decjuba
  56. Decjuba Girls
  57. Denim Bloom
  58. Denizen
  59. D-Luxe
  60. Dockers
  61. Double Oak Mills
  62. Easy Steps
  63. Element
  64. Ell&Voo
  65. Ella Moon
  66. Emma Riley
  67. Endless
  68. Essentialist
  69. Farmers
  70. Florsheim
  71. Forclaz
  72. Forever 21
  73. Franklin Tailored
  74. Gap
  75. Garage
  76. Gilly Hicks
  77. Ginger Tree
  78. Good Brief
  79. Goodsport
  80. Goodthreads
  81. H&H (The Warehouse Group)
  82. Hannahs
  83. Harley-Davidson Footwear
  84. Harris Scarfe
  85. Haven Outerwear
  86. Hayden Rose
  87. Hem&Seam
  88. Hill City
  89. Hollister co.
  90. House&Shields
  91. HyTest
  92. Indie Kids
  93. Indigo Society
  94. Industrie
  95. Inkast Denim
  96. Intermix
  97. Intrepid
  98. Iris and Lily
  99. Isle Bay Linens
  100. James & Erin
  101. Jane Debster
  102. Janie and Jack
  103. Jeanswest
  104. John Bull
  105. Jump
  106. Kachel
  107. Kate Madison
  108. Keds
  109. Kid Nation
  110. Kipsta
  111. Kold Feet
  112. Lark & Ro
  113. Leather Architect
  114. Levi’s
  115. Lily Parker
  116. Locale
  117. Maggie T
  118. Mariella Bella
  119. Marks and Spencer
  120. Match
  121. Max
  122. Maya
  123. Meraki
  124. Merrell
  125. Mika Muse
  126. Mint Lilac
  127. Mirro
  128. Moon & Black
  129. Mountain Designs
  130. Myx Store
  131. Nabaiji
  132. Navigator South
  133. Nina
  134. Nine West
  135. Novo shoes
  136. Number One Shoes
  137. Nunn Bush
  138. Ocean Blues
  139. Old Navy
  140. Oxelo
  141. Painted Heart
  142. Papillio
  143. Paris Sunday
  144. Peak Velocity
  145. Pickaberry
  146. Ping Pong
  147. Pink Inc
  148. Pyra
  149. Quality Durables Co.
  150. Quechua
  151. Quicksilver
  152. Rafters
  153. Ravella
  154. Rivet
  155. Rockrider
  156. Roler
  157. Roxy
  158. Rugged Mile Denim
  159. RVCA
  160. Sandler
  161. Saucony
  162. Schooltex
  163. Scout & Ro.
  164. Sheike
  165. Shein
  166. Signature by Levi Strauss & Co
  167. Signature Society
  168. Simple Joys by Carter’s
  169. Social Graces
  170. Society New York
  171. Soft Style
  172. Something for Everyone
  173. Sperry
  174. Spotted Zebra
  175. Spurr
  176. St. Swim
  177. Stacy Adams
  178. Staple Superior
  179. Stocking Fox
  180. Stride Rite Children’s Group
  181. Suite Alice
  182. Symbol
  183. Temt
  184. The Fix
  185. The Warehouse
  186. TK Maxx
  187. Toms
  188. Triban
  189. True Angel
  190. TS14+
  191. Umi
  192. Under Armor
  193. Valleygirl
  194. Von Zipper
  195. Wide Steps
  196. Wild Meadow
  197. Windsor Smith
  198. Wolverine
  199. Wood Paper Company
Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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