Californian online retailer Everlane is synonymous with timeless styles at affordable prices. Everlane has built its brand with the tagline ‘radical transparency’ and positioned itself as a leader in ethical practice. It says it is committed to revealing the true costs behind all of its products—from materials, to labour, to transportation. But behind the sleek advertising campaigns and celebrity endorsements, how do Everlane’s claims stack up? We take a look at how this US retailer rates in terms of its environmental impact, labour rights, and animal welfare and ask: how ethical is Everlane?
When it comes to the environment, despite its claim of ‘radical transparency’, there are significant gaps in the information Everlane provides to the public—and on some issues, there is no information provided at all. That’s why we’ve given Everlane a rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ for the environment.
On the plus side, Everlane does reject passing trends, instead emphasising classic, well-made designs that are more likely to be worn for longer—a key characteristic of ethical fashion. And we were pleased to see that in September 2017, Everlane introduced a new denim line that addresses many of the environmental impacts of denim production. It also uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled fabrics.
However, there is no evidence Everlane minimises textile waste or is working to eliminate hazardous chemicals, nor does it seem to reduce its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in most of its supply chain. Everlane would achieve a higher score here if it was more transparent around its impact on the planet and incorporated more eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and recycled wool across the full range of its products.
When taken at face value, Everlane appears to do right by its workers. The Everlane website includes a ‘Factories’ section that identifies many of the brand’s suppliers worldwide and provides pictures of the factories, short descriptions of how Everlane found them, the materials produced there, and information about the owners. Though publicly sharing a list of suppliers is a good step towards ‘radical transparency’, Everlane doesn’t state whether this is a complete list of suppliers, and the list doesn’t include any suppliers at the raw material stage.
What’s more, although the images provided depict good working conditions, it is difficult to confirm that they are truly representative of Everlane’s suppliers, as they were not provided (or audited) by an independent third party. It’s also unclear which part of the supply chain is audited and how often those audits occur. Despite these ‘happy’ factories, there is no evidence the brand has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint, nor does it ensure payment of a living wage in its supply chain. At this stage, the brand scores ‘Not Good Enough’ for workers, as it still has a long way to go.
Everlane also scores ‘Not Good Enough’ for our animal friends. It doesn’t use fur, down, exotic animal skin, or angora in any of its products. While it has a general statement about minimising animal suffering and traces some animal products to the first stage of production, there is no sign of a formal animal welfare policy. Its score in this area also suffers from its use of leather, wool, and exotic animal hair—though it does state it sources wool from non-mulesed sheep. The welfare of both animals and workers cannot be guaranteed when a brand does not list the source of animal-derived materials. Everlane needs to improve its transparency and the traceability of its materials, or even better, eliminate animal-derived materials from its products altogether.
Overall Rating: Not Good Enough
We’ve given Everlane an overall rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ based on our own research. To its credit, Everlane focuses on timeless designs over short-lived trends and emphasises the high quality and craftsmanship of its products, and acknowledges that brands ought to be transparent. But there are essential ways in which Everlane fails to live up to its own hype. Ultimately, Everlane’s claims of ‘radical transparency’ don’t stack up against its inability to trace most of its materials and its unwillingness to provide information on its environmental impact, auditing processes, and source of animal materials. As Lizzie Widdicombe rightly put it in The New Yorker, “In some ways, the most radical thing about Everlane is its marketing.“
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.
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So for the conscious consumer, Everlane is out. Luckily, many ethical brands offer timeless, well-made designs that do right by workers, animals, and the planet. Check out these alternative brands rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ by us.
Ethical alternatives to Everlane
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