Priding themselves on their exceptional quality, ethical factories, and radical transparency, Everlane is an American clothing company that primarily sells online, with the exception of a few stores in Los Angeles and New York. Focusing on ethically made pieces, the company has established itself as one of the more sustainable clothing brands on the market. With products ranging from sweaters and pants to outerwear and shoes, Everlane is known for their timeless basics that are said to be durable and long lasting. Before this review, I wasn’t very familiar with the brand and I can’t personally attest for any of their products. After doing more research, I can say that the company does at least have a genuine approach to a more sustainable and ethical approach to fashion. Like many, Everlane has their ups and downs concerning their radical transparency which leads me to conclude that consumers should assess their own values before purchasing this product. Everlane does provide consumers with a lot of information, however, they do have areas where they significantly lack transparency: statistics, material sourcing, etc. So although I can’t come up with a concrete conclusion of whether buyers should avoid this product or brand, I can say that I encourage everyone to think about if they believe what Everlane is doing is enough.
With an identity centered around being breathable and lightweight, the Organic Cotton Tee is a classic, versatile fashion staple. Without doing any deep research of what the tee is made of, when just browsing through their products, the Everlane website provides a section detailing the type of fabric used in the garment. Many clothing websites have a small section where they give more information about how the product is made or where it’s made from, however, Everlane goes above and beyond by including the factories that the garments are made in. I enjoyed that they included this information in each of their product pages because it offers an added layer of transparency to consumers. Regarding this specific tee, Everlane states that this style uses organic cotton “which is better for the soil and water, and safer for the workers.” Organic cotton is a better alternative as it lacks the toxic substances and polluting pesticides that usually go hand in hand with conventional cotton production. Conventional cotton production is a harsh, chemically intensive process that significantly degrades our soil, water, and airways as it accounts for “5% of global pesticide use and 14% of global insecticide use.” Unlike its harmful counterpart, organic cotton leaves the water, air, soil, and our ecosystems free from toxic contaminants and polluting chemicals. Producing “46% less CO2 emissions compared to regular cotton,” organic cotton becomes a much more attractive, sustainable alternative. Not only that, but the average organic cotton t-shirt produces 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to the chemical equivalent. Looking more into the production of organic cotton, something that piqued my interest was that in order to be deemed organic, the entire supply chain process has to remain chemical-free. With over 10 material certifications including GOTS Organic Cotton and Cradle To Cradle Gold Certification, Everlane products seem to be out of clean materials and design processes. The GOTS Organic Cotton Certification is a year-long analysis that oversees every step of production “from the processing of certified organic fiber into yarn, to the dye-houses, mills, factories, and printers.” This intensive process signals to me that Everlane isn’t making any false claims about the fabric that their products are made from. Another benefit that I think comes from the use of organic cotton is that it results in better quality pieces that can last longer. Choosing durable, quality fabrics that will withstand time reduces the “amount of chemicals and waste being produced” and discarded into our environment. The information and transparency that Everlane provides make it easier for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and add to what I feel is an honest approach to sustainability and persuaded me to give them a 3.
One big emphasis in the Everlane design process is longevity and durability. Looking through their about page, it’s clear that they’re working to create long-lasting and sustainable products as they want to build “an ethical supply chain that creates high-quality, low-impact, long-lasting products.” With careful consideration of the materials that they use ( products are claimed to be focused on using natural fibers and recycled synthetics) and the production partners that they work with, the product design process is curated to reduce pollution, waste, toxic chemicals, and plastics. Many of their products seem to be designed with three goals in mind: “55% lower carbon emissions per product by 2030, 46% lower absolute emissions in our stores and HQ by 2030, and Net-zero emissions by 2050 (or sooner).” At first, I was confused as to where these reduction numbers came from as they seemed arbitrary, however, they are relative to the companies' 2019 data where their GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions totaled 71,629 Mt CO2e. Although I’m glad Everlane is creating these goals and having measurable targets, the public won’t be able to see any full data or a report on their reduction efforts until 2022. This is a downfall to their whole carbon reduction approach because it removes a layer of transparency and clarity that consumers look for in companies. Another thing is that because Everlane is primarily an online retailer, the carbon emissions that are generated during the transportation process can be high. According to the EPA, transportation contributed to 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. It's been 2 years since then, and I have no doubt that these numbers have increased as the popularity of online shopping has gone up. Striving “to use the most sustainable materials from farm to factory, and invests in new fabric innovations,” I feel that if Everlane were to clarify more information about how their products are specifically made (the design process, production, marketing, etc.) then I could give them a rating higher than 1.5.
The Everlane company doesn’t shy away when revealing the factories that their clothes are made in. As I mentioned in the what it’s made of portion, the Everlane product page states where each piece is made in the details section. Everlane works with multiple factor partners in several countries, although many of them seem to be based in China or Vietnam. Spending months scoping out these factories, Everlane performs compliance audits to determine which partner factories they’ll work with. These audits test for compliance with Everlane standards and the Vendor Code of conduct. Along with this, they also test for health & safety standards, labor conditions, energy use, fair wages, carbon emissions, water use & treatment, and recycling programs. Looking further into this, I couldn’t find any measurable statistics on the factories or any more information that wasn’t already talked about on the Everlane website. The only numerical measure I could find was that the company's goal was to have “a score of 90 or above for every factory” regarding compliance audits. Having a score of 90 or above would mean that each of their factories are truly adhering to the regulatory guidelines and safety standards that Everlane is putting in place. The lack of statistical information on these factories is concerning to me because Everlane could just be saying that they’re taking all these actionable steps and measures without actually doing them. The only other detail I could find was that the factories are LEED-certified meaning that every level of operation is at least energy efficient. The Organic Cotton Tee comes from Nobland Vietnam Co, located in Vietnam. This factory houses 3100 employees and has been partnered with Everlane since 2013. Like the rest of their factories, Everlane spent a lot of time scoping out this partner in preparation for an association. With high praise for their technical talent, this factory is known for “creating more complex garments, while still maintaining the best environment for its employees.” Although there is a lack of transparency concerning the details of these factories, I do commend them for actually taking the time to review and evaluate potential partners instead of just working with anyone. It was pleasing that the site provided more information on the factories that make their clothes, however, the lack of statistics concerning carbon emissions, working conditions, etc., really made it hard to give anything higher than a 1.