So, you’ve found a brand you love the look of. Their style is on point, it’s your fit, it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for. But how do you know if they are who they say they are? They look “ethical” but what does that even mean?
If you’ve found a fashion brand you’re keen to support or shop from, you might be wondering about the brand’s ethical or sustainability credentials. These days, a lot of brands will publish information about their ethics and values on their ‘About’ page or they might even have an ‘Ethics’ or ‘Sustainability’ page. Information you’re looking for includes where their products are made, by who, how much those people are paid, the types of fabrics they use and why, and anything they’re doing to reduce waste. As a bonus, they may also talk about how they give back to their communities.
But some brands don’t have any of this information listed, and that’s alarming. But what a great opportunity to bring it to their attention that you’re a potential customer that’s interested in that information. If this is you, check out this list of questions you can send to brands to get them thinking about their manufacturing, environmental impact and their communications with their customers.
You can also get to know the most popular fashion certifications in Australia and what they mean here.
Templates to copy and paste
If the brand has no information about who makes its clothes
Hi there, I’ve been looking through your website and considering purchasing something online. I’ve just noticed you don’t have any information about the people who make your clothes. Are you able to share with me where your clothes are made, in what conditions and how much you pay your garment workers? It’d be great if you could publish this on your site. Thanks.
If the brand has the manufacturing country listed but no other information
Hi there, I’ve been looking through your website and considering purchasing something online. I just noticed that you have the country listed where your clothes are made but nothing further in relation to who makes your clothes. Are you able to share any information in relation to who makes your clothes and in what conditions? It’d be great if you could publish this on your site. Thanks.
If you want to know if the brand pays a living wage to its garment workers
Hi there, I’ve been looking through your website and considering purchasing something online. I’m just wondering if the brand is committed to paying its garment workers a living wage, and if not, if there’s a plan to work towards that? It’d be great if you could publish this on your site. Thanks.
Side note: When we refer to a living wage, we’re talking about a specific rate as calculated and specified by the Global Living Wage Coalition.
If the brand claims it has sustainability credentials but doesn’t elaborate further
Hi there, I’ve been looking through your website and considering purchasing something online. I know you refer to your sustainability credentials but I can’t seem to find anything specific about how you manage your environmental footprint. Can you please advise what it is the brand is doing to reduce its impact? Thanks.
What to do next
For some brands, this will be the first time they’re ever been asked for this information, and a fantastic opportunity to share information or gather it in the first place. For others, they will get the question a lot, in which case, they’ll like have a standard response to share. They may not answer the question – ie. they might say they care about their workers and the environment and have standards in place to protect them. But without any specific information about manufacturing and accreditations, it really isn’t good enough. It’s up to you to decide if the response is enough to justify spending your money with them, but if not, you can always press for more information. Specify that you’re asking for specific, time-bound commitments to living wages or for the brand to publish a list of accreditations in relation to their manufacturing and environmental policies. Some brands will be super grateful for the feedback, and in the best case scenario, will publish this information thanks to you. Others will ignore, but at least you tried.
More and more brands are recognising the business benefits in transparency in their operations, but many still have a long way to go. Through consumer demand and little friendly nudges along the way, we can encourage more brands to pay attention to the important issues in the fashion industry.