Brand Criteria

All brands on UNUMSHOP meet 2 non-negotiable criteria:

  1. They offer a timeless style and look.  To borrow from style icon Coco Chanel, “fashion fades, style endures.”  At UNUMSHOP we aspire to offer apparel that will endure and prove timeless in style and in quality.  (And, of course, timeless apparel is inherently far more sustainable since it can be worn season after season and always looks good, regardless of the latest trends).

  2. They are leaders in sustainable and responsible practices, based on their attainment of B Corp Certification and/or a top rating from Good On You (placing them in the top 15% of the thousands of Good On You rated brands).

Why use 3rd-party certifications and ratings rather than develop your own in-house sustainable and responsible evaluation method for brands?

At UNUMSHOP we think that ensuring the credibility of our claim that you’ll never find anything but the most sustainable and responsible brands on UNUMSHOP and that earning and maintaining your trust in this is paramount. Thus, rather than develop our own rating system, we think something as complicated and admittedly subjective as assessing an apparel brand for its sustainable and responsible practices was better left to experts who do this and only this all day, every day. Plus, using a 3rd-party removes a lot of those pesky potential conflicts of interest that one might run into if you find yourself faced with a hard decision with financial implications.

We thought it was better and more credible to use the best and most-widely recognized rating systems we could find and we think we found that in B Labs and Good On You. This is why all brands on UNUMSHOP must meet the strict non-negotiable criteria that they are either B Corp certified and/or are rated in the top 15% overall by Good On You. We can’t buy a certification or rating from these organizations, and we can’t hope to bend the rules even just a little (since they aren’t our rules), so you can always rest assured that any brand you find on UNUMSHOP is a leader in sustainable and responsible practices and earned its certification or rating.

Full disclosure: we are in the process of seeking our own B Corp certification (we’re currently only able to be identified as a Pending B Corporation because we’re such a young company), and we do pay a nominal monthly fee to Good On You as part of a partnership agreement, but this is completely removed from how B Labs conducts its certifications and how Good On You rates brands. Meaning, even if we wanted to (which we don’t!), we have zero opportunity to influence either.

What is B Corp Certification?

B Corp Certification means a brand has gone through a rigorous certification process managed and administered by B Labs, a global non-profit network whose mission is to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. B Corp certification is only awarded after a company undergoes a rigorous holistic assessment and can verifiably demonstrate high social and environmental performance, has made a legal commitment to ensure their corporate or company governance considers all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and exhibits transparency by allowing this information to be publicly available (Patagonia is a name you would probably recognize and is a great example and a pioneer of B Corp Certification). Oh, and did we mention full recertification is required every three years. So yeah, only the most dedicated and responsible companies achieve and retain B Corp Certification.

What is Good On You and why should I trust their ratings?

Founded in Australia but now with staff that spans the globe, Good On You has rated over 5,000 brands globally (and counting), making it the world’s leading source for apparel brand sustainability and responsibility ratings. Good On You believes transparency promotes accountability and as such, public transparency is at the core of their ratings methodology, with their ratings based solely on publicly available information. Hence, Good On You rates brands without ever coordinating or contacting the brand directly. (Talk about removing any conflicts of interest!) In fact, many brands that aren’t familiar with the sustainable space don’t even know they are rated.

Good On You’s rating process starts with its independent analysts who compile and verify all the data they can find on a brand. This often starts with a brand’s own website and public reporting, and then also considers the most robust third-party indices (like the Fashion Transparency Index and CDP Climate Change and Water Security projects) and certifications/accreditations (like Fair Trade, Fair Wear Foundation, Cradle to Cradle, OEKO-TEX Made in Green, and the Global Organic Textile Standard). The analysts then process all of a brand’s publicly available data through Good On You’s proprietary algorithm based on over 500 data points that cover over 100 key issues in order to generate a comprehensive yet easily digestible rating. Good On You ultimately rates a brand on three key issues, planet, people, and animals, and then assigns an overall rating on a 5 point scale, from “We avoid” (their worst rating) to "It's a Start", "Good" and “Great” (their highest endorsement).

At UNUMSHOP we have chosen Good On You’s “It's a Start” rating as a minimum threshold because, really, "It's a Start" is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. Only about 15% of brands rated by Good On You earn at least a “It's a Start” rating, and these brands are often leaders in one or more of the three key areas (planet, people and animals).

Umm…  So what’s this either or stuff?  Why didn’t UNUMSHOP just chose one system or the other? (B Corp Certification or Good On You ratings)

Ultimately, while we think having a very high bar for brands to be considered for UNUMSHOP is critical, we recognize that no matter how hard B Lab and Good on You (and others) aim for objectivity, any certification or rating methodology to assess the already subjective “sustainability” or “responsibility” of a brand is bound to be confounded by levels of subjectivity. As the old saying goes, we didn’t want “perfect be the enemy of good” (or in this case, we’d argue “great”). Thus, while neither method is perfect, and either on its own would certainly be very good, we feel any brands that meet either rigorous criteria are deserving of being considered leaders in sustainable and responsible practices and should therefore be considered for UNUMSHOP.

Why aren’t I seeing other certifications attached to brands or why can’t I filter for brands that highlight criteria like “conscious” or “sustainable” or “vegan” like I’ve seen on other sites?

We want to ensure your shopping experience on UNUMSHOP is as enjoyable and useful as possible, and we think part of this is streamlining the decisions you have to make when shopping. Finding the right piece of clothing, footwear or accessory can be hard enough without adding the extra layer of having to think about all the elements that might make a brand sustainable or responsible.  This is why we’re so careful with our brand curation from a style perspective, and this is, of course, why we’re so strict with our sustainable and responsible criteria.

We’ve already done the filtering for you so you can feel confident that all brands on UNUMSHOP are leaders in sustainable and responsible practices without having to individually look at brand certifications or other subjective identifiers.  And, the reality is, many brands that might highlight one or two areas that sound good often do so to the detriment of other critical areas - or, even worse, provide misleading or outright false information to earn those designations.  That’s why we use holistic responsible criteria from 3rd party experts like B Lab’s B Corp Certification and Good On You’s ratings.  A “sustainable” or “conscious” or “vegan” brand might sound great, but unless you know what those terms are based on, they might either be intentionally misleading, or they may only be telling a small part of the story while leaving out other less desirable pieces.