Here’s a question that’s been asked a lot in sustainable fashion circles: how sustainable or ethical is Everlane?
In fact, we answered it back in 2019. The NYTimes also answered it in 2020.
But unlike cancel culture, sustainability isn’t a fixed point, to be held true to infinity, and beyond. Sustainability is a moving target, and for the sake of progress, it must be.
After all, no brand is perfectly sustainable. Every brand should be working to improve their ethics and sustainability over time, and we should grant them the grace to do so.
That’s exactly why at Eco-Stylist we re-evaluate and update brands regularly.
How Sustainable is Everlane in 2022?
You can probably guess roughly what our original evaluation was. That makes it all the more exciting to share that as of 2/17/22 we re-evaluated Everlane and they got a passing score on our criteria.
Their total score increased by 76%! A clear sign of progress and doing the work.
We’ll dig into exactly what changed, but first let’s explore an equally important question: why did it change?
Why Did Everlane Become More Sustainable?
Now, you might be thinking this is a story about the watchdog organizations who call out greenwashing and push the industry forward towards more sustainable practices. Or, you might be thinking this is a story about brands: and how when they do the real work they can make impressive strides to be better for people and the planet.
All of that is true, but that’s not what this story is about. This is a story about you.
You made Everlane a more sustainable brand.
The articles, social posts, and YouTube videos were all great starting points for advocacy, education, and building awareness—but it’s what happened next that changed everything. You shared them.
You sent them to your friends. You Tweeted about it. You slid into people’s DMs like a kid at a waterpark. You told your brothers, sisters, and cousins until they put their headphones in and walked away from you (and you haven’t heard from them since).
You messaged Everlane on social media, emailed them, commented on their posts expressing your desire for greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics.
And then… they listened.
Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, once said that every time a brand hears from one of their customers, they assume it represents 10,000 people!
You heard that right—they assume there’s 9,999 other people who feel the same way you do, but just didn’t bother to reach out. But you did.
So before we go any further we want to say thank you. Thank you for reading, for sharing, and for making change happen.
Your voice matters.
Where Everlane Improved The Most
Everlane is a great example of how brands can improve their sustainability over time. They set tangible goals, they made progress on those goals, and they were transparent in sharing that information on their website, where you can find it.
A lot changed from our previous rating. Here’s the 3 biggest areas that impressed us and made up for the majority of their new points.
You can learn more about how we rate here.
When it comes to sustainable fabrics there’s a few ways brands can earn points but the primary one is by sourcing more than 50% of their fabrics more sustainably. Everlane’s score in this category went from 0 to 57% of the possible points earned.
The main way they did this is by now sourcing more than 50% of their fabrics sustainably. They share this information right on their sustainability page.
You can also verify this by doing a spot check: pick 10 random items and answer yes/no to whether the fabrics are more sustainable (ex: organic cotton, alpaca, recycled fibers). You’re looking to get more than 5/10 yes.
Environmental Sustainability is where Everlane picked up most of their new points. In this category brands get points for doing things like measuring water, waste, and CO2 usage, reducing their consumption of each of those, investing in circularity, sustainable packaging, and more.
Everlane more than tripled their points in this category with new goals and initiatives. First, they discuss their future plans for reducing their carbon footprint. It’s a great start with clear goals and a more detailed impact report coming out later this year.
Everlane also uses sustainable packaging, shares a host of sustainable certifications they have, and programs such as their No New Plastic initiative. They have certifications like REACH, bluesign, and ZDHC to reduce use of harmful chemicals in production.
There is more they can do in this category but they’ve made solid progress in the last couple years.
In our leadership section, part of what we look for is DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion). When it comes to DEI Everlane earned full marks.
Everlane has clear goals, conducts internal surveys and utilizes third party experts for anti-racism training. They also take action to improve equity within the organization.
Actions include sharing the current percent of management who are black and POC, as well as working with a third party to look at internal pay gaps and how those can be improved. One of the things we look for is diversity at the executive level and sharing those stats helps benchmark where they are, while being honest about room for improvement.
Where Everlane Can Still Improve
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Here’s some areas where Everlane can still work to improve.
To improve their score in Transparency, Everlane could provide information about actual conditions within their factories, such as wages paid, number of workers, etc. This would also strengthen their claim of ‘radical transparency.’
When it comes to Sustainable Made, Everlane can include a breakdown of their company’s water footprint. They could also develop a circularity program.
When it comes to Fair Labor, the biggest improvement we would like to see Everlane make is ensure their makers earn a living wage. This would boost their score quite a bit, while bolstering their claim to have ethical factories.
Why Isn’t Everlane In Our Brand Directory?
While we are really glad to see Everlane improve, we decided it’s not the right time for us to publish them in our Brand Directory. Our directory is where we’re housing the most ethical and sustainable brands on earth, and that means it’s critical that those brands be brands we would fully endorse to you.
With this recent update, we decided that in addition to our sustainable brand criteria, brands must also meet our 3 principles:
- The brand is not fast fashion.
- The brand inspires us.
- We trust the brand.
This update helps us ensure that every brands we recommend to you is aligned with our values and are brands we can fully stand behind. In the case of Everlane it’s too soon for us to be able to trust the brand.
For a deeper dive on why we made this decision check out our video which explains it in more detail.
What can just one person do? Say that 10,000 times. Now say it 7.9 billion times.
Keep using your voice and voting with your wallet because brands are listening.
Drop your questions below ⬇️
*Article updated 3/5/22.
Garik Himebaugh is the founder of Eco-Stylist, the go-to resource for ethical clothing. He’s also an international speaker on all things sustainable fashion. Garik loves coffee, climbing, and clothes.