Do you know where your clothes come from? That amazing top that only costs $15.99...how are they able to sell it so cheaply? What is your favorite pair of pants made of and how old were the hands that made it?
These are examples of some of the (sometimes uncomfortable) questions that Australia-based ethical fashion app Good On You has started asking the most popular brands in the market. And they’ve been publishing their findings in their free app - putting information about fashion brands directly into shoppers’ hands.
Good On You is adding to the growing movement that brings more awareness to the ethical side to shopping and fashion - more than just checking out the price tag.
We spoke with Bethany Noble, Marketing and Communications Director for Good On You to learn more about the app. Read on for details: what the app is all about, what was the inspiration behind it, and how it’s promoting consumer and brand responsibility to make ethics a standard (as opposed to a novelty as it is now) within the fashion industry.
Good On You was created in Sydney, Australia by the charity Ethical Consumers Australia. Development of the app was initially funded by a crowdfunding campaign in July 2015, and it’s been growing since then.
It’s run by a small core team including Bethany and five other committed, passionate individuals. This small team works with hundreds of volunteers to gather ethical information, research brands, write blog posts, assist with marketing, coding and anything else that needs to be done to help get ethical ratings on thousands of brands out to the public through the app. Bethany emphasized:
We really hope this app will highlight the entire supply chain from the source to final product so people can make informed decisions while shopping - turning the tide on consumerism and improve transparency.”
Good On You currently includes ethical ratings for around 1,000 brands that sell in the top 100 largest shopping malls in Australia. Ratings are based on labor rights, environmental impact and animal protection.
Users can search the app for a particular brand to see the rating, along with suggestions for similar brands that might have a higher score. This information helps consumers find brands that they may not have heard of otherwise, and that operate more in line with their personal values.
Our information is taken from credible sources: Greenpeace’s Global Detox campaign, ethical fashion reports, and collaborations with great NGOs and accreditation companies. We bring all that information together to make it really easy for people to know what they’re buying.”
The app chooses brands to focus on based on the trends in Australia, and takes brand information requests. They also try to highlight smaller brands they come across that are doing great when it comes to ethical production.
Using chocolate and coffee, two products that have a global awareness of the need for fair trade, as an example, Good On You aims to bring that to the fashion industry as well.
Many fashion brands pay less than living wages to their workers, use materials produced with chemicals that harm the environment, or ignore animal protection rights. That’s just the reality of the industry at the moment.
Bethany explained further, "Research suggests that it would only cost the consumer an extra $3 per garment for the worker who produced it to make a living wage. Of course, that’s a suggested, illustrative figure, but it makes the point. I think most people would be happy to pay an extra $3 to know that the person who made that garment can afford to feed their family at night.”
Good On You hopes that given the information, consumers will start asking the right questions and begin demanding ethical standards. They also seek to improve the transparency behind the supply chains and manufacturing processes, encouraging brands to make the changes necessary to make fashion fair for all.
The Good On You app is full of well-researched information. And with all that information condensed in one mobile app, it becomes much easier for consumers to make the ethical choices that they would like to make, but maybe didn’t have time to research before. As Bethany explains:
Using the Good On You app means you go from being a blind consumer to an informed one. You no longer have to buy what’s put in front of you, but can make informed choices about how to spend your money.”
From the brand’s perspective, Good On You provides more of an incentive to be transparent and to act ethically within their supply chain.
If a brand received a Good to Great rating, Good On You includes a write-up and sometimes works out special brand offers for app users. This app increases engagement and awareness for those brands that are operating ethically.
Some larger brands that receive less than ideal ratings contact Good On You to highlight what may not be public information. This helps those brands a lot from a marketing perspective. It encourages them to publish information about the efforts they are making, and gives them incentives to improve overall.
Good On You is currently focused on creating an optimized app for the Australian market, but they’re also looking at expanding globally. The ideal app will be a global, comprehensive database of fashion brands and how they’re doing in the areas of labor standards, environmental rights and animal treatment.
Good On You is empowering the consumer: harnessing the power of the people and spreading information that lets consumers follow their values, rather than only their wallet. Apps like Good On You and the passionate volunteers behind it are contributing to the movement towards greater consumer responsibility and awareness.
With their work to encourage informed choices, we can sleep a little easier at night knowing that putting on that new pair of pajamas over a well-fed belly didn’t come at the cost of a hungry, sleepless night of a garment-producer somewhere else in the world.