The Real Truth About Everlane’s Sustainability.

If you like fashion but don’t want to support fast fashion like H&M and Zara then you have more than likely googled “Sustainable fashion stores”. Everlane is mentioned in almost every article. Their fame has been growing due to their ‘radical transparency’. 

Related: Everything You Need To Know About H&M’s Conscious Sustainability Line.

On their about page they state their mission statement: “At Everlane … we partner with the best, ethical factories around the world. Source only the finest materials. And share those stories with you—down to the true cost of every product we make. It’s a new way of doing things. We call it Radical Transparency.”

The brand does something which is not done by many other brands which is revealing all of their costs and their markups vs their competitors. (see picture below for an example)

From Everlane’s website – True cost of a shirt

Today we will be exploring 4 sections of their business: suppliers, environment, overall transparency and alternatives. Finally I will give my own opinion and score Everlane out of 10. 

Suppliers

Everlane has a wide variety of suppliers listed on their website, with names, number of employees, how they met the suppliers and pictures of the factories/working conditions. 

  • While this allows consumers to do their own research on the factories, the problem is that Everlane doesn’t state whether this is a complete list of suppliers. Therefore it’s hard to confirm if ALL of their suppliers have good working conditions and if the ones on the website are a true representation of Everlane’s suppliers. 

  • In September 2017 Everlane introduced a new denim line through a supplier called Saitex. They claim that the facility recycles 98% of its water, air dries 85% of their jeans jeans, and utilises solar panel. While all of this sounds great, it is hard to confirm all of this information as there are no sources to back this up. (more on this in the overall transparency section)

  • According to Good on you, “Everlane does not use fur, angora, or exotic animal skin or hair in any of their products”, but they use “leather, wool and cashmere without stating the sources. The welfare of both animals and workers cannot be guaranteed when a brand does not list the source of animal-derived materials.”

Score: 1/2

Environment

Is Everlane slow fashion? 

  • Everlane does reject passing trends — they emphasise “classic, well-made designs that are more likely to be worn for longer, a key characteristic of ethical fashion”. Furthermore they produce products on a monthly basis whereas some companies like H&M release new clothes every week. Furthermore, most online reviews say that everlane clothes are of a high quality and don’t fall apart in a few days like fast fashion clothes. So, yes, they can be considered slow fashion in comparison to other stores. 

Materials

Cotton 

  • “While over 80% of Everlane’s line is made from biodegradable materials like leather, wool, cashmere, cotton and silk, most of these materials — particularly leather, wool and cotton — require a lot of energy and water to produce including the resources used to look after the animals.” (source

  • Furthermore, many Everlane products use 100% cotton or linen but they do not specify if the materials are organic or recycled. If their materials aren’t organic or recycled they could have switched to sustainable fabrics or upcycled fabrics, hemp, linen, Tencel etc.

Plastic

  • According to Vogue Business, “75 per cent of the plastics the company uses — which primarily come from polyester, nylon and elastane used in its outerwear, underwear and some sweaters — are now recycled… Nearly half of its shoes are now made using recycled substances, and virgin plastic has been replaced with recycled plastic in the poly bags used for shipping and distribution… plastic makes up 10 per cent of the materials the brand uses in products overall, according to Everlane”

  • Concerning the replacement of virgin plastic with recycled plastic, Everlane pledges that they will not use new plastic in their “entire supply chain by 2021”. They plan on banning virgin plastic covers plastic packaging and plastic at their offices. Furthermore they released a new product line called ReNew, which is an outerwear collection made with renewed plastic bottles. So far their collection has been created with 3 million plastic bottles.  

Chemicals

  • AjayaKnows (a blogger) emailed Everlane on the chemicals used in their clothes for example harsh dyes. This was their response: “As Everlane has grown, we’ve expanded our focus on the human rights aspect of fashion to sustainability. We don’t have any official certifications just yet, such as using organic materials, but I can say that any chemicals used in the making of our products comply with local, regional, and international laws set for our factories.” 

Score: 1/2


Overall Transparency

Picture from Everlane

  • As previously mentioned Everlane lists all of their factories and they say that “each factory is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environment”. While they say this, it is unstated which part of the supply chain is audited, how reliable the auditing is, and how often those audits occur. 

  • In the email response to AjayaKnows, Everlane stated that they “don’t have any official certifications just yet, such as using organic materials”. This fact links into how Everlane has no third party verification, which means they have no outside validation of the claims made on their website. Such verification parties include B-Corp, Fairtrade , and Goodwell. (source)

  • “Independent fashion organisation Project Just conducts rigorous research into many leading brands and confirms that “as at March 2017, [Everlane] had not conducted any audits on its raw material or textile processing facilities” and nor can it “trace its entire supply chain.”” (source

  • The lack of third party verification or any other evidence is important to note as without any verification the entire list of suppliers and the facts about the suppliers (such as the denim factory) could be completely faked and we would not know. This is very bad for Everlane as without this validation consumers won’t know if suppliers are paying fair living wages and treating their workers properly. 

Score: 0/2

Alternatives 

What makes Everlane preferable over other fashion stores?

  • Suppliers – Even though their auditing details are vague and they lack verification for their information, they are still providing a list of suppliers which is something many stores do not like to expose. Furthermore, they are sourcing from multiple countries such as Vietnam and the USA which do not have a bad reputation for mistreating labor (unlike Bangladesh and China). This is important to note as most stores source from Bangladesh/China and it is likely that Everlane’s suppliers are more ethical than their competitors

  • Environment – In the world of fashion the majority of popular stores greenwash and act as though they are incorporating sustainable practices when they really aren’t. Everlane however has admitted in emails that their focus is more on the human aspect of fashion rather than sustainability. One: they are truthful and that is commendable in itself. Two: we can also see their efforts in using recycled plastic in their clothes with their new collection which is also a good step forward as the majority of clothes in other stores are still made with virgin plastic or other unethical fabrics. However, Everlane has yet to address the issue of their fabrics not being organic.

  • Transparency – Yes they do not have third party verification, however, what they are doing with their transparency has been making customers more aware of the minimal amount of money the factory workers earn if they make clothes for fast fashion stores. This ‘radical transparency’ has clearly made more people aware of the dark sides of fashion, which most people still do not know about.

Score: 1/2

Score before my opinion: 3/8

My Opinion 

Is Everlane ethical?

  • As previously mentioned, Everlane is more focussed on the human side of fashion rather than the environment. If we pretend that Everlane had third party verification and everything on their website was true, then yes they would have definitely been highly ethical (even though they are missing some details) since not many companies are brave enough to be this transparent and honest. However that is not the case and so until they get verification I will not think of them as ethical.

  • Furthermore, for a brand its size one would expect them to be able to afford third party verification, but strangely they haven’t yet so it really makes me question the validity of everything on their website.

Is Everlane sustainable?

  • I would not describe Everlane as sustainable. As mentioned in this article many times they simply are too vague and their lack of verification makes me doubt their whole branding.

Do I recommend Everlane?

  • Overall I would say no, stay away from Everlane if you can. However, I definitely think that they are a decent and affordable alternative to the fast fashion companies out there due to their monthly releases of clothes and mostly positive reviews of the longevity and quality of their clothes.

  • According to National Geographic, humans have created created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since 1950 (the beginning of plastic creation). Of that 8.3 billion, only 9% has been recycled. And so I highly encourage everyone to not buy virgin plastic products but rather renewed plastic if possible, therefore if you are feeling optimistic about Everlane actually being truthful then I would highly recommend sticking to their ReNew collection since, if true, it would be a good investment for our planet.

Score: 1/2

Final Score: 4/10


Everlane seem to be truthful (yet vague) in the emails I’ve read, so if you would like to encourage them to get third party verification you can email them at support@everlane.com or message them on their social medias.

If you want alternatives to Everlane check out my Pinterest (@econaki) for suggestions.


Want me to review your (favorite) product or company? Just email me at info@econaki.com or leave a comment down below!

Want to know more about fast fashion? Here’s a trailer to a well-made documentary all about it. If you like the trailer I highly recommend watching the documentary.

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References

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Saran

Founder at Econaki
Hi! My name is Saran and I am the Founder of Econaki. My goal with the business is to provide in-depth information about the sustainability of popular products/services so that we can combat climate change amongst other problems.

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