We have two goals. The first is to get you to think more about where you buy your clothes, and to recognise that in terms of transparency - how much brands are sharing on their own websites about where our clothes are made - not all high street brands are created equal. We synthesize the information that’s out there, and share it in a simple format so you can make your own decisions about where to shop.
Our second goal is to encourage brands to share more information and better data about their supply chains. We do not think shoppers should have to go digging for information buried deep in an investor relations report, filled with jargon they don’t understand.
Everything in our app and on our website is based on publicly available information shared by brands on their websites.
When we first embarked on creating Not My Style, we thought we’d actually be able to rate brands objectively on their supply chain labour practices. However, we very quickly learned that if we wanted reliable, verified information, we would be lucky to get it for a small handful of brands. If we wanted an app with more than a dozen stores on it, we’d have to try something different.
We were taken aback by how many brands got away with not even a page about their efforts to address supply chain challenges on their website. We decided we needed to start at the very beginning: how much information are brands sharing about who makes our clothes on their own websites?
What this means is that our highest-rated brands share a lot of information – what it doesn’t mean is that they are the “best” on issues like living wage, forced or child labour, or right to organise. While we’ve tried to mitigate against brands exploiting the system, taking them at their word means there is always a possibility that a brand could be sharing a lot but not actually doing much. This is a risk we have made peace with for two reasons. The first is that until we get more brands sharing better data, we’ll never be able to distinguish between what’s good information and what’s not. If we want to be able to call brands out for greenwashing, we need a whole lot more information in the public domain. And not just from a few, from all of them.
The second is that, in spite of all that, we feel strongly that transparency is important in its own right. As consumers, we should know where our clothes are being made and how the people who make them are being treated and it should be up the brands to tell us.
We have refined our rating criteria with the support of industry leaders and transparency experts over the last 18 months. We have created a rating system that aims to be objective and transparent, while giving consumers a clear understanding of what information brands are sharing on their websites. Each brand has been evaluated by three independent evaluators, based on information available on a brand’s main consumer facing website and/or parent company website. The ratings have been moderated to provide quality assurance. Our rating system looks at 22 indicators across five key areas:
- Leading transparency initiatives – Our “big point” items are for brands who disclose their entire supply chain, share the outcomes of their factory audits, and are taking demonstrable steps to provide a living wage (not minimum wage) across their supply chain, as shared on their website.
- Recognition of challenges – We award points across indicators that reflect brands’ awareness of key supply chain challenges on their website: child and forced labour; right to organise and health, safety and working conditions. Additional points are awarded if brands share their process for auditing garment factories, and if they publish their supplier code of conduct on their website.
- Accessibility of the information disclosed – The brands are rated on how easily accessible information about their supply chain is to the public through their main consumer facing website.
- Certifications and memberships – Brands are awarded points where they have publicly committed on their website to industry bodies, such as ETI or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, that hold them accountable to a set of standards, or provide guidance on their supply chain practices.
- Sharing active steps taken to improve conditions for garment factory workers – Once brands have acknowledged the challenges in their supply chain, what information are they sharing on their websites concerning their approach to addressing the issues in the areas of child labour; forced labour; right to organise; and health, safety and working conditions, and are they seen to publically partner with independent NGOs to remedy the challenges in their supply chain.
The ranking is a relative scale and not absolute: by sharing more data, brands can move up or down vis a vis each other. Each brand will be evaluated on an annual basis. If a brand contacts us to inform us of new information they’ve disclosed on their website, we will conduct another evaluation on an ad hoc basis, as soon as is possible for our team. The app and website will include a time stamp for each brand that will show the date when it was evaluated and rated.
While our founders have combined decades of experience working in corporate responsibility, communications, and development, what really qualifies us is that we are high street shoppers ourselves, just like our you. All we are presenting in Not My Style is our assessment based on publicly available information on each brand’s website.
We’ve checked brands’ sites multiple times between May 2016 and February 2017, and have looked carefully for what’s there. However it’s possible we may have missed a critical piece of information or an update from a brand. We’re also hopeful that our app may encourage brands to share more. Anyone – a brand or member of the public – can reach out to us any time to share new information or correct what we have, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make our lives easier by sending hyperlinks. And remember, Not My Style is about publicly available information, not about reporting data to us. To make it in the ratings, it needs to be accessible to everyone on the brands’ website.
Woohoo! That’s what we would love to happen. Once we become aware of any new information disclosed on a brand’s website (either by a brand alerting us or during our planned annual mass refresh), we will verify and adjust rating as appropriate within 10 business days. Our rating scale is relative, which means that as some brands move up, others may move down. Ratings can (and will) change regularly.
To date, Not My Style has been entirely funded by the three co-founders and the generosity of our 265 Kickstarter backers (we ran a successful campaign in November 2015). While we are not a registered charity, our social mission is at the core of what we do and will remain so. We aim to make enough to sustain our growth into future markets, and our operations. This is mainly through the continued support of people who want us to succeed. We will include "shop online" links to green-rated and star stores, which generates revenue back to Not My Style. This does not influence the way we rate brands. If a green brand becomes amber we would no longer link through to that brand's site.