It’s beginning to look a lot like…consumerism! During the next few months shopping frenzies will be front and center across America, bringing unethical brands to the height of their sales for the year. From Black Friday and Christmas to Hanukkah and other blow-out winter sales, this time of year inevitably results in consumerist chaos. In order to avoid buying into these wasteful and harmful practices, focusing on conscious gift-giving during the holiday shopping season is a solid start. 

One simple way to shop consciously is to know the brands to avoid. The four brands listed below made our “Naughty List” this year because they failed to receive Remake’s Seal of Approval by a long shot. Each one of these brands boasts growing social platforms, resulting in an incredible influence on consumers and the market at large — using their voices to spread greenwashing instead of working on real change within the industry. They proclaim sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing, or innovative production, but aren’t actually following through with all that they promise.

If you’re looking for some ethical brands to make your purchases from this holiday season, check out our list of approved brands that really are making a difference when it comes to turning fashion into a force for good. As for these four brands below, until they can change their ways, it’s the naughty list for them.

unethical brands

Tiffany & Co. (23 points)

The little blue box might as well be a hallmark of the holidays in the States by how popular Tiffany & Co. becomes during this time of year. The high-end jewelry brand used to sit pretty as a company which everyone lusted after, thanks in part to the infamous film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However, times have changed and Tiffany’s has realized it needs to cater to a much younger, hipper audience in order to survive. This is where greenwashing comes in. Information on the company’s sustainability commitments seems easy enough to find, however only in regards to its awareness of its environmental impact and future goals. Tiffany & Co. also explains its support of healthy and safe working environments for those who participate in its company along the supply chain without giving any solid facts. It’s nice to hear such a large and established business making some advances within the notoriously problematic diamond industry, yet its efforts aren’t enough. In order for the jewelry brand to gain a Seal of Approval, it will have to do much more work to track its supply chain and improve working conditions for all.

G-Star Raw (0 points)

In recent years G-Star Raw publicly launched a sustainability initiative. On its “Raw Responsibility” page the denim company explains its omission of fur and its stance against forced labor practices. While this sounds great, the information given is incredibly vague which leaves much room for interpretation. In addition, they promise a commitment to creating with 90% sustainable materials by 2020, yet there seems to be little evidence of progress. This initiative launched in 2015 and after almost 5 years there isn’t much to show for it. G-Star Raw gains zero points and a spot on the naughty list this year for making empty claims about its efforts towards responsible manufacturing. It’s frustrating to see such a well-known brand discuss sustainability with no follow through because if they kept their promises, this denim company could do so much good. When it comes to unethical brands, G-Star Raw tops the chart.

unethical brands

Lush (32 points)

Business has been booming for Lush in the 2010s due to its fun colors, cheeky names, and a bit of greenwashing. By promoting its package-free environment, natural ingredients, and products not tested on animals, the brand positioned itself as an accessible, healthy alternative to companies like The Body Shop and Sephora. Lush’s bath bombs have flown off the shelves for years because of the promise of attainable, guilt-free beauty. However, the ugly truth is that Lush includes synthetic chemicals known to be harmful to humans in its products. The beauty brand recently created Re:Fund, an initiative to support global regenerative farming in areas which have been depleted of resources etc. This fund proves exciting, though without any other labor standards or commitments to maker well-being, falls short. While Lush seems aware of its environmental impact, they must cut out synthetics and focus more closely on their supply chain in order to be considered for a Seal of Approval and make their way out of this grouping of unethical brands.

Outdoor Voices (28 points)

Rising in popularity since their establishment in 2012, Outdoor Voices claims to produce a new kind of activewear. Through fun colors and “innovative technology,” the brand has garnered a huge following in recent years. Outdoor Voices states three values on its website: empowering people, protecting the planet, and creating quality garments. Though the third may be true, the first two claims appear on shaky ground. The brand does use some sustainable materials such as recycled polyester, “ethically sourced” merino wool, and recycled wool blended with polyester. Parts of these efforts prove respectable, however, most of Outdoor Voices’s claims don’t hold water. Only vague information can be found about its efforts towards protecting the workers within its supply chain, and no concrete evidence is revealed of its commitment to the environment during the manufacturing stage. Most activewear consists of plastic, a huge culprit of releasing microfibers when washed. Outdoor Voices must find more innovative ways to make a difference within the industry while supporting garment workers.

While sustainability may be promised by these unethical brands, the reports say something quite different. Fortunately, Remake’s got your back. Curious if a brand meets our code of ethics? Peruse our Seal of Approval brand list to see if it makes the cut this holiday season.

Help Remake vet more brands and continue to grow our Approved Brands list for conscious shoppers. Consider donating support to remake’s educational programming!


Images: AL.Eyad, FaceMePLS, Tatsuo Yamashita/Flickr

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