I'm not buying Everlane's new sneakers and I won’t encourage you to either.
*I'm not one to disclaim, but here I am disclaiming that I am not an expert. I started this journey into sustainability four months ago and have a lot to learn.
That being said, I have picked up a fair amount while existing in the slow fashion community on Instagram and compulsively researching sustainability and low-waste lifestyles. And one thing I think about and talk about with a lot of my Internet Friends is how we:
As consumers, tell if a company that claims it is sustainable is telling the truth; and
As microbloggers, decide whether a brand that has approached us to partner or promote posts is a good fit.
Once you accumulate a few followers, at least in the fashion space, it is likely brands will want to partner with you, essentially paying with money, resources or exposure for access to the community you've curated. Because I have started to receive some offers, I want to share with you my thought process in making decisions about those requests. Especially because it's the same process I used to decide that I'm not buying “Tread by Everlane”.
I'm gonna lay it out there now: I'm never going to encourage you to buy most of your clothing brand new. I'm not going to promote new t-shirts from “ethical/sustainable” brands, I'm not gonna partner with companies to help sell new sneakers, and I'm not going to tell you about how fortunate I feel to have been gifted new dresses so I can encourage you to spend your money on them!
I'm also not going to accept gifted products I don't need. Just the way I took pride in my ever-growing wardrobe up until 2019, I now take pride in my small, functional wardrobe. I’ve committed to that. I genuinely believe we have created enough stuff on this planet (You’ll probably get rid of more than 80 pounds of textile waste this year – and that number has been climbing for decades) and I don't like to see companies take advantage of those hoping to reduce their carbon footprint while their focus is on profit (Greenwashing is real). It's gross.
What I will do is share cool secondhand or vintage stores where I shop. I'll show you where, if ever, I buy new -- like underwear, bras and bathing suits -- and how I made/ am making the decision to purchase from them. I'll share companies that sell products (with the smallest carbon footprint possible) I use, trust and would recommend.
And if any of that ever changes, I'll tell you.
Because while it may be easy to jump at either the opportunity to partner with a brand, or easy to take a company screaming sustainability lingo from the rooftops at its word, I think it's important to step back and make a few considerations.
My process for determining whether a brand aligns with my morals, my needs and priorities, featuring Everlane's sneakers:
Good On You: My first step is always to search the company on the Good On You app. While this app doesn’t get the final word, I find it helpful to get my bearings. As you can see, here is Good On You's rating for Everlane: “Not good enough” for a brand very popular on Instagram and with influencers right now.
According to its website, Good On You was established by Ethical Consumers Australia, a non-profit organization. They are a “commercial business driven by a social mission – to create a world where consumer choices drive business to be sustainable and fair.” You can read more about how they rate brands based on their impact on people, the planet and animals.
More research: After I've read into what Good On You has to say, I move on to conducting my own research. I'm looking for a company’s policy about employee wages and factory conditions, a long-term plan about how it plans to continue reducing its carbon footprint, whether the product’s packaging is compostable/recyclable, what happens with its leftover materials, how the company avoids overproduction and how well it knows its suppliers.
Then, I look for blogs written by women who aren't being paid by the company. What do they think of their products? What kind of issues have been reported? How does the company treat its customers’ feedback? How difficult was it to find all of this information? This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start.
Here’s some support for Everlane’s new sneakers. And here. And here!
Here’s some criticism in their comment section.
Why?: My last step is to consider why I need this product (paid or gifted to me by a company) or to shop from this particular store, and whether I could find something similar secondhand.
Honestly, a majority of the time, the answer is "I can absofreakinglutely find this secondhand." That goes for tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, outerwear, furniture and home decor. I'm committed to my current wardrobe, and while getting free stuff feels cool and legitimizing, it butts heads with my values.
I also consider whether the product is my style. Is it made from natural, long-lasting fibers? Is it something that will match with the majority of my wardrobe?
This step takes me on a personal journey to my closet. I own two pairs of sneakers, both bought before I even knew what sustainability was, both in great condition: a white pair of high top Chuck Taylors and a white shell-toe pair of Adidas. I don't need another pair of sneakers.
So there you have it. My journey to why I'm not making the purchase. This is by no means to discourage you from making your own decisions, but perhaps give you a different perspective. I know it’s a lot of work, but I believe we have a responsibility as consumers to ask these questions and be sure we are aware of what we are supporting with our dollars.
I will also note that I understand this may not work for everyone. I have spoken with a woman who practices a vegan lifestyle, who feels uncomfortable wearing animal products and struggles to find vegan shoes secondhand. I've spoken with curvy ladies who are challenged at the thrift, which rarely offer their sizes. There are also the people who just want to spend money on brand new clothes (check out this Atlantic proposition). Everyone is entitled to their own standards and I respect them! This is only about my specific mindset, and I thank you for respecting it, too.
I would love to heard your thoughts — what am I missing? How do you make your decisions? Do you think you could incorporate these questions into your consumerism?
Until next time, fam.