Who doesn’t dream of wearing an Armani suit, a Dior dress, or a Chanel fragrance, right? Well, you might want to reconsider your shopping wants if you want to buy ethical-only. In this case, you’ll find yourself in a pickle.
The thing is, few luxury brands make good on their promises to make every part of the design and manufacturing process ethical. Most just make promises instead of actually implementing sustainable production and shipping, lowering carbon footprint, treating animals humanely, providing decent working conditions, and more.
Snooping around online to find out which brands are ethical in action will have you utter, “I wish I had someone write my term paper on WritePaper.com before I started searching!” That’s because most companies, luxury or fast-fashion ones, don’t mind greenwashing.
So, which luxury brands can you trust when they say they’ve gone ethical? Here are seven of them that will help you remain in style – all without compromising on your values.
This Spanish-slash-French haute-couture brand not only has a target for reducing greenhouse emissions. (Many other luxury brands do.) Balenciaga is actually on track towards its target! Apart from that, the brand follows an on-point policy to fight deforestation in its supply chain.
But no one is perfect – not even Balenciaga. Labor conditions and animal welfare are two points where Balenciaga still lags behind.
It’s not clear whether all of the workers that make Balenciaga’s products earn a living wage, for one. Plus, the company continues to use leather and fur. That said, Balenciaga does its due diligence in tracking its supply chain. And it’s stopped using exotic animal skins and fur in its products.
This British apparel designer pledged to turn her brand into a sustainable one two decades ago – and she’s been doing one hell of a job ever since. As you can see, that wasn’t an empty pledge. Otherwise, Stella McCartney wouldn’t be on this list.
First, let’s talk about the environment. Stella McCartney uses recycled polyester, regenerated cashmere, and organic cotton in its items. Plus, the company is transparent about its greenhouse emissions and is working towards reducing waste across the board.
This makes going for Stella McCartney a good choice if you’re looking to reduce the carbon footprint of your shopping. But that’s not all: the brand doesn’t use leather, fur, animal skins, or angora in its items.
The only downside is that the company isn’t 100% transparent about its workers’ conditions. So, it’s impossible to know whether its Code of Conduct is applied in reality.
High-end jewelry production isn’t without its problems. Too many brands find it perfectly fine to source gold from mines that use and emit toxic mercury and cyanide into the ecosystem. That’s not to mention the often unfair treatment of miners and unsafe working conditions.
FUTURA Jewelry is conscious of all those issues. That’s why it sources its gold exclusively from certified Fairmined Ecological mines.
So, no mercury, cyanide, or other toxic chemicals pollute the environment to bring you a new FUTURA accessory. Instead, these chemicals are captured, treated, and disposed of correctly.
This label also means fair worker treatment and safe conditions. What’s more, FUTURA Jewelry tracks its supply chain and makes sure workers are paid fairly throughout it.
RVDK Ronald van der Kemp
Created by eco-conscious Dutch fashion designer Ronald van der Kemp, RVDK aims to prove one thing. Haute couture can also be ethical.
The brand’s primary focus is sustainability. That’s why more than half of all materials used in production come from recycling, including wool and leather. Water and chemical use is kept to a minimum.
RVDK also pledged to do no harm to animals, and it makes good on that promise. The brand doesn’t use fur, leather, angora, or exotic animal skins.
The only caveat is the transparency of the supply chain. While it’s known the final stage of production takes place in the Netherlands, the rest of it is left in the dark.
Another widespread problem with jewelry is the origin of the gemstones used in it. Apart from the potential impact on the environment, mining them can involve human rights abuses and harmful working conditions.
Excluding any harm to the planet or people from its supply chain is the key priority of this premium US-based jewelry brand. So, Bario Neal traces the gemstones and metals to their origins – and makes sure they are Fairmined certified. What’s more, it uses lab-grown diamonds in its jewelry!
Plus, more than half of the materials used in Bario Neal’s stunning accessories and packaging come from recycled materials. Yes, that’s including metals and stones! The jewelry is also designed to last and get recycled or repurposed at the end of its life.
One more high-end jewelry brand on this list, Bleue Burnham, is a UK-based maker of accessories inspired by humanity and its deep connection to nature. That’s why it’s also conscious of all the challenges of ethical jewelry-making – and manages them well.
More than half of all materials used by Bleue Burnham come from recycled sources. That includes not just precious metals and stones but packaging as well. Almost all precious metals used in Bleue Burnham’s production come from recycled materials, for one.
Plus, most of the accessories and their components are handmade in the UK to reduce shipping. (Any exceptions are listed on the products’ pages.)
The company also regularly visits its suppliers to make sure they make good on their promises. This way, it can ensure good working conditions and sustainability are present throughout the supply chain.
Let’s wrap up with the high-end Made in Italy brand that’s most famous for its vegan sneakers. But that’s not the only thing Womsh has to offer. You can also find women’s and men’s apparel, socks, and hoodies in its online store.
When it comes to eco-friendly practices, Womsh has plenty of them. For example, the company uses renewable energy in manufacturing, as well as recycled materials. It also limits water use and waste in the making of its products.
The final stage of production takes place in Italy. Womsh tracks its supply chain – and ensures workers receive a living wage, at least in part of it.
It also doesn’t use any exotic animal hair or skins, nor does it use fur. However, if you’re looking for leather-free products, only some of Womsh’s ones qualify for that label.
In Conclusion: How to Know If a Brand Is Ethical
You’ve been warned at the beginning. There’s only a handful of luxury brands dedicated to their promises of ethical manufacturing and design. And the names you might’ve been expecting – Dior, Chanel, Armani, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton – are absent from this list.
By now, you might be wondering, “How can you say that these brands are ethical – and others aren’t?” Wonder no more! Here are five guidelines used in the writing of this piece (you can use them, too!).
Ethical doesn’t equal only sustainable or eco-friendly. The treatment of workers and animals throughout the supply chain also has to be taken into account.
Ethical brands don’t just set sustainability targets and make pledges. They’re transparent about their progress and their operations (including the supply chain) in general.
Don’t rely only on the brand’s press releases. Use platforms like Good on You, Ethical Consumer, PETA, and Greenpeace to cross-reference their claims.
Always have several independent sources that’ll help you make your conclusions.
See if any environmental groups or non-profits backed up or vetted the company’s policies and reports.