It’s only in the past couple of years that the fashion industry has had an ethical and sustainable spotlight shone on it. Consumers are interested now more than ever in knowing where their clothes are coming from, who’s making them and whether the brands they support are environmentally conscious. But shopping ethically can be frustrating, with most brands in the industry failing to share their manufacturing processes.
Introducing Good On You, an app that helps you source ethical clothing from independent clothing stores. It works just like a shopping mall directory, showing you the price, their ethical rating and brands similar in style or price that have a better rating. We sat down with one half of Good On You, Sandra Capponi, to see just how things work.
Why did you start Good On You?
For a long time I’ve been thinking about the impact people have on the world, the good and the bad, especially in big business.
I spent many years working in the corporate sector, trying to push the social responsibility of businesses from within. But more recently I started to think about the responsibility I have as an individual, and the power that each of us has to change things for the better just by the everyday choices we make, including the clothes we buy.
I’ve always loved fashion, but the stories I kept hearing about what’s going on behind the scenes of major labels made me start to question if I was comfortable wearing clothes without knowing how they were made.
That’s where Good On You came in. When I met my cofounder Gordon last year, he’d already been tinkering with the idea of empowering people to shop more ethically and so he created the Good On You app. Instantly I knew that Good On You was not only something I needed in my daily life, but something I wanted to help build and share with millions of other people around the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about your vision for it?
At Good On You, our big vision is for a world where people’s shopping choices drive businesses to be more sustainable and fair. I imagine a future where people everywhere are using Good On You as second nature to make shopping decisions based on the things that matter most to them; from discovering the latest trends and finding a bargain to making sure no women or children were exploited in the making of their clothes. And ultimately, fashion brands are totally transparent about how they make their products while living up to the ethical standards that each of us expect.
In your opinion, why is fast fashion a problem?
Fast fashion means clothing is made as quickly and cheaply as possible. The two biggest fashion businesses in the world, Zara and H&M, built their businesses by replacing traditional seasons with new trends landing in stores as often as weekly. Thousands of labels from small to large have followed suit flooding the market with constantly changing styles and more or less disposable clothing.
Consumers are being sucked into a pattern of low-cost impulse buys, often unaware of the environmental and social costs. The fashion industry is now one of the most polluting industries in the world, not to mention the amount of waste created from discarded clothes. Australians are throwing out more than half a million tonnes of clothing each year. That’s enough to fill our biggest sports stadium two and a half times over. In the US, annual waste is estimated to be at least 13 million tons of clothes.
And then there’s the impact on people’s lives who are employed in the fast fashion industry. In Bangladesh, garment factory workers earn on average less than $0.22 an hour, often in extremely dangerous conditions. The real cost of fast fashion is huge.
How does Good On You work?
The Good On You brand rating system looks at three main issues that we know are important to shoppers: how a brand treats its workers, the environment and animals. We take into account publically available information from more than 50 certifications schemes and standards systems together with the company’s reported data. We present that information in a simple, easy to understand 5 tier rating from 1 (We Avoid) to 5 (Great). Then it’s up to you as the consumer to decide what matters to you most and how you want to act on that information.
Why does the world need this app?
Research tells us that most of us, in fact over 50% of Australians, want to make more ethical choices when they shop. But right now it’s just too hard to know the impact of brands on workers, the environment and animals.
The Good On You app gives the information we need right at our fingertips to make better decisions that match our values. Shoppers can use the app to see how their favourite brands rate and discover new brands that do better on the issues they care about.
We realise that it’s not just about the ethics when it comes to fashion. At the end of the day many of us still care a lot about price and of course style! But Good On You helps you find more ethical options so looking good doesn’t have to come at the expense of people, and the planet.
Have you had any feedback from brands included on Good On You?
Brands often contact us wanting to know how they can improve their rating. In some instances, we find that brands simply are not communicating to the public about all the good that they do and we guide them on how to be more transparent. In other instances brands work with us to determine how they can improve their practices to avoid harm.
We also aim to be transparent ourselves, publishing details of our brands rating methodology and welcoming feedback from brands and other industry experts.