From Sézane’s Demain tote bag to Gucci’s ban on animal fur, more and more fashion brands are now beginning to market their corporate social responsibility. Armed with the philosophy of “radical transparency,” Everlane has been at the forefront of this trend.
Everlane, founded in 2010 and headquartered in San Francisco, is often considered one of the most innovative fashion companies and is growing fast. With $12 million in revenue in 2013 and $24 million in 2014, the company is doing something right. What is the magic of this predominantly online shopping brand that attracts tons of customers?
Price transparency. It has been Everlane’s go-to marketing strategy since its foundation and it has garnered attention across the globe. The company is transparent by placing info-graphics below each item sold on the website. In addition, ethically made clothing produced in so-called “world class factories” differentiates Everlane from other conventional retail stores. Although the clothing line is relatively basic, including cashmere turtlenecks, modern oxfords and plain T-shirts in a few color options, Everlane has become one of the most popular brands in fashion, even appearing in many YouTubers’ clothing haul videos.
But some fashions critics have asked, is Everlane really that transparent?
According to a report from The Fashion Law, Zara and H&M can be more transparent than Everlane in terms of supply chain and ethically made clothing. 98.5% of H&M’s first tier factories are identified with their names and addresses. The company even reveals some of their factories’ intermediate goods suppliers.
Another aspect about Everlane that raises public concerns is the brand’s conduct of ethics. The U.S. import records disclose that Level Style, Inc., a Hong Kong-based company in charge of the Shenzhen Artigas Clothing and Leather factory, is one of the suppliers for Everlane. However, this supply factory was accused by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions of mistreating garment workers and unpaid insurance. Almost 2,000 employees have organized strikes against the factory. This begs the question: is the notoriety of its supply factories the reason why Everlane shuns publicizing the factories’ names and address? In addition, Everlane does not give any information about the vendor’s code of conduct. Therefore, Everlane can be seen as less transparent than Zara, the Spanish fast fashion giant that has a detailed list of vetting processes for its parent company.
The first item I purchased from Everlane’s website was a pair of its Street Loafer. Those shoes, which are not very well distinguished from other brands’ loafers, gave me a sense of satisfaction because I knew the product was made with absolute transparency. Without honest business practices, Everlane is just a more expensive version of Uniqlo. So with its transparency in question, what about Everlane can still attract me? I can’t think of anything.