There is considerable ambiguity when deciphering between conscious consumption and greenwashing. As the sustainable fashion movement continues to grow there is hope for more consistency, though the current lack of universal regulations or streamlined definitions has left brands, platforms, and publications to make up guidelines themselves.
At Remake, we also saw a missing link among the different grading systems: the human element. As warriors for the women who make our clothes, we dedicated 5 months to develop our own rigorous criteria to create a unique evaluation tool that backs up a brand as vote-worthy or not.
Here’s the low down. Each brand is evaluated by its efforts towards the categories of sustainable production: transparency and traceability, maker well-being, environmental sustainability, sustainable raw materials, and leadership. Our brand assessment uses public information on each company to create a clearer picture of what the entity has to offer, filtering data through each category.
A brand needs 50 points to pass, while the maximum amount of points available to each one is 100. Most fashion businesses fall into the 50-60 range, meaning they are doing much more than the average retailer. Though it is possible for a brand focusing solely on sustainability or humane practices to pass, the majority of accepted companies have considered their impact on people and the planet. When a brand passes the criteria, they earn our trademark Seal of Approval.
Our holistic approach to better fashion prioritizes brands running their business in a similar fashion to the approval process.
When this evaluation was first born, most companies were only focusing on a few elements within responsible fashion; however, the movement’s rise in popularity has pushed more brands to examine their impact on all fronts. Unfortunately, many brands are not tracing their supply chain thoroughly enough, forcing us to leave them out of the running. If companies do not demonstrate or provide transparent information on their website, there is no way for them to be held accountable with responsible shoppers like us.
This is unlike the four brands we’ve listed below, who punch in the slower, tougher sustainability work direct into their products, getting a hell yes from us at Remake:
Outerknown – 86 points
Outerknown has snagged the highest score from Remake so far. This small brand is located in Los Angeles, California and has only been changing the fashion game since 2014. 11 time World Surf League Champion Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore joined forces to produce a line of women’s and men’s clothing made transparently and sustainably without compromising on style. The company is Fair Trade Certified™ and assures they have a close relationship with each supplier in their manufacturing operation, even going so far as to include each factories address on their website. Still, Outerknown’s efforts towards combatting climate change with their clothing are unknown, as they do not have information regarding the tracking of CO2 emissions or programs in place to lower their carbon footprint. In lieu of those programs, their Code of Conduct does hold the team accountable to make each decision with the people they work with and the environment in mind. Due to their genuine devotion to responsible practices, Outerknown has become an example for all other brands filtered through by Remake.
Raven + Lily – 69 points
Raven + Lily was originally founded as a nonprofit in Los Angeles, since their establishment in 2008, they have moved to a for-profit model in order to achieve the impact they hope to make on the world. The brand is now based in Austin, Texas and describes itself as a ‘fair trade fashion brand specializing in uniquely beautiful leather bags and jewelry.’ Kirsten Dickerson and Sophia Lin, Raven + Lily’s co-founders, hope to empower women through their transparent production process because they believe investing in women is ultimately investing in communities. While their products are made in several different countries, – including Malaysia, Kenya, and India– the company guarantees its involvement in the production systems near and far. From plant dyed cotton in Peru to locally sourced and 100% vegetable dyed leather in Ethiopia, Raven + Lily is spreading the seeds of sustainability throughout the world. Their efforts towards creating a better fashion entity are admirable, yet any initiatives the accessories business may have towards water conservation and recycling remain undisclosed. Raven + Lily’s dedication to its maker’s well-being and ethical sourcing have them sitting pretty on the Remake approved brand list.
Kowtow – 67 points
Kowtow is a minimalist women’s clothing brand headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand. Founded by Gossia Piatek in 2007, the company aims to create positive change in the fashion industry through its thoughtfully-made pieces. Kowtow incorporates certified organic materials, GOTS certified dyes, sustainable practices, and valued craftsmanship into each collection. Their factory in Kolkata, India is SA8000 credited, pays for employees’ social security as well as pension funds, and supports workplace unions. Back in New Zealand, Kowtow partners with Fairtrade International to help cover education and medical costs for their in-house staff. The brand has clearly made it their mission to take care of every member in their supply chain, although their attempts at waste and water reduction are either insufficient or unaccounted for on their website. From fiber to finish Kowtow strives to hold themselves to high standards which do not harm people or the planet. The entity’s passion for conscious manufacturing and high-quality garments earns them a seal of approval from Remake.
Sseko Shoes – 64 points
Sseko is a leather goods brand based in Portland, Oregon. Their signature footwear is handcrafted in Uganda, made of genuine leather, and built to last. According to their website, the growing company was founded in 2009 as ‘a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university.’ Since then Sseko expanded its product variety and positive impact, even becoming a Verified Member of the Fair Trade Federation in 2018. While Sseko’s score is incredibly high in the maker well-being category, there is no record of their efforts towards environmental sustainability. In addition, their in-house production model is admirable, nonetheless, their lack of information about raw material sources is keeping them from receiving a perfect score in the transparency and traceability category. Sseko’s commitment to the well-being of those in their supply chain earns them a spot on Remake’s approved brands list, as a ‘good to the core’ company.
Cover Image: Денис Наружных/Reshot