Review: Ethical Fashion App Good On You

Over the last year, I’ve become very careful about where I buy new clothes. I’ve done a lot of research into clothing companies to make sure they have ethical practices, but with the large amount of greenwashing (when a company pretends to be more eco-friendly than it is) present in the fashion industry, it can be hard to trust a company’s website.

A few months ago, I found out about the app Good On You, which has totally changed the game for me. Good On You helps me learn more about brands I like to shop (or used to, since I have been mostly avoiding buy clothes brand-new for the last 9 months) and discover new ethical fashion brands.

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On the app, you can search brands, curate a list of your favorites, see current sales going on at the app’s top-rated brands, and there are articles on the app with topics such as, “Material Guide: How Ethical is Cashmere?” and “5 Ethical Brands That Celebrate All Women.” if you want to find an ethical brand but don’t where to start, you can also search the app by clothing category to find the best brand to buy your new clothing, shoes and accessories from.

On each brand’s page, the app gives the brand an overall rating and then rates it by labour, ratings and environment, and explains its ratings in detail with cited sources. The ratings are “We avoid,” “Not good enough,” “It’s a start,” “Good,” and “Great.”

There is a detailed breakdown of how Good On You rates and research brands that you can find through the “Settings” tab. When looking at a list of brands, you can also see an amount of dollar signs, but cost isn’t a focus of the app. Brand pages also show similar brands that might be of interest to you, which is a cool way to discover brands that might be more ethical than your faves. You can send feedback and messages directly to some brands through the app. I haven’t done this yet, so I can’t attest to how effective it is, but it is an option.

Many small brands are at the forefront of the ethical fashion movement, but a lot of small brands aren’t on the app, which is the biggest downfall to it. I have found that some brands I’m curious about aren’t on Good On You, but if a brand isn’t on the app, you can request that it is added. I don’t know how long it takes for a brand to show up on the app after requesting or what the process is for the backend once a user requests a brand. It also seems that most brands have info that is a few months to a year out of date (Everlane is last updated Dec. 2018, Athleta hasn’t been updated since June 2017), so if a brand or label you like recently announced new standards, those might not be reflected on the app.

I highly recommend downloading the app and poking around! As the user base grows, that may lead to growth in the amount of brands listed and the frequency of updates to information. Oh, and Emma Watson, noted ethical fashion icon, supports Good On You. So that’s a cool bonus (couldn’t leave that out of this post because I adore her).

I’ve learned some surprising things about brands through Good On You. For example, Madewell and Everlane both hold an overall “Not good enough” rating. Madewell and Everlane have identical ratings in all sections: labour is rated “It’s a start,” and its environment and animal ratings are “Not good enough.” However, Everlane advertises itself as one of the most sustainable options out there and definitely capitalizes on sustainability more than Madewell does when it comes to branding.

I asked people on Instagram, did some social media searching and looked in my own closet to see what some of the most popular brands are right now and how they are rated. Here are some of them:

We Avoid: Anthropologie [note: Anthropologie does sell some ethical brands, like Mara Hoffman, which has a “Good” rating], Fashion Nova, Lulu’s, NastyGal, SheIn, Romwe

Not Good Enough: Forever 21, Boohoo, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Outdoor Voices, J. Crew, Fila, American Eagle, Fossil

It’s A Start: Converse, Athleta, Tradlands, Vans, Primark, Levi’s, Kotn, Eileen Fisher

Good: Amour Vert, Rothy’s, Reformation, Veja, Patagonia, Whimsy + Row, Girlfriend Collective, Addidas, Mara Hoffman

Great: Tamga Designs, PACT, Christy Dawn, People Tree, Swedish Stockings, Kirrin Finch

Ending with a personal note: I’ve only been consciously making an effort be ethical with my fashion for the last year. Ethical and sustainable fashion is always evolving and it can be tough to make the full transition immediately. No matter where you are in your journey, acknowledging the problems in the fashion industry and striving to be a better consumer is the most important thing, even if you still shop at Madewell and Free People sometimes. Most people cannot afford to make the change overnight - I know I can’t, which is why I’ve mostly stuck to thrifting over the last year. Making the most out of all the clothes you already own and limiting what you buy new is a great way to be sustainable, as is thrifting and swapping clothes.

It’s also important to note that for larger bodies, finding ethical options for clothing is difficult, so if you want to shop ethical but can’t find it in your size without spending $500 per piece, that’s okay. If you want to learn more about brands that carry larger sizes and are still ethical, two amazing resources are @shannydoots and @marielle.elizabeth on Instagram.

A lot of the responsibility is on the industry to do better. By supporting ethical brands (and thrifting, of course) and staying away from fast fashion, we as consumers are signaling what matters to us. The best thing we can do to control the way the fashion industry moves forward is by putting our money where our mouths are.