Where to find information on fairer fashion

Public Eye believes that responsible fashion means sustainable production that includes social and ecological dimensions. We are committed to ensuring that the over 60 million workers in the garment industry are paid a living wage, that they have more secure, regulated working conditions, and that they are allowed to unionise. We are convinced that the most important ecological criteria are to ban genetically modified seeds (GMOs), reduce the use of pesticides, have a low-carbon footprint production approach, and a preference for organic cotton.

The “responsible fashion” market is a growth sector, and many companies are on the road to a more responsible production practice. However, we do not recommend any specific companies or brands, as to date there are no companies that are 100% sustainable in terms of their social and ecological practice throughout the supply chain.

There are nevertheless some platforms and organisations that do put forward some suggestions to guide you.

Ethical fashion platforms

As a network made up of active garment and consumer trades unions, the Clean Clothes Campaign publishes detailed reports on fashion brands in various countries. In Germany, the Kampagne für saubere Kleidung (in German) publishes information mainly through the Alliance for sustainable textiles (Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien) and the FairCademy. The organisation Ethique sur l’étiquette (in French) provides information on French fashion brands, and the Clean Clothes Campaign Österreich (in German) evaluates Austrian and international shoe brands.

The WearFair guide and the GET CHANGED site (in German) provide quick, simple guidance for more responsible fashion, and informs about the social and ecological conditions of production of listed brands. Some Swiss and German fashion brands that respect a series of criteria on sustainability are listed in the FairAct (in French) and UTOPIA (in German) sites. Over and above these platforms, labels can also help to guide you in terms of the sustainability criteria that they cover, and the way in which they audit companies’ respect of these criteria.

Keeping a critical eye open

Even with these various platforms and labels, it is important to keep a critical eye open. Because all too frequently they only take part of the real situation into consideration, and fail to cover all the criteria for social and environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain. It’s important to be aware of these criteria in order to be able to evaluate the limits of the recommendations formulated by platforms or labels. To date, no brand can claim to produce garments under 100% sustainable social and ecological conditions; and no brand evaluates the overall supply chain in a holistic, reliable way. It’s therefore impossible to guarantee truly sustainable production.

The Fair Wear Foundation has done the most work on issues of social standards. Their approach of supporting the introduction of improved working conditions in factories is one of the most comprehensive; while at the same time strict measures to ensure that their members systematically pay workers a living wage are however missing.

Our Label Guide (available in German and French) presents an overview of most frequently used social and ecological criteria for sustainability in fashion.