What goes into a brand ranking?

Last year sustainable fashion rating site Good on You released its take on Adidas. After considering the human, environmental, and animal impact, the website gave the sportswear brand a Good score, equivalent to a 4/5. The result was backlash. Consumers and readers who trusted Good On You were furious that Adidas got such a high score, with some even accusing the website of being sponsored by the brand. One good thing that came out of the whole ordeal is that consumers now question what goes into a brand rating.

Brand reviews and ratings are ever-increasing.

As consumers become more aware of sustainability in fashion, the demand for trusted recommendations has risen. Sites like Good on You and Mochni have stepped up to meet that demand, reviewing thousands of brands and presenting them in short form, easy to read formats for consumers. Then there are the self-labeled influencers and activists who share their views about certain brands on social media, encouraging their followers to either support or boycott the brands they talk about. The positive to all these ratings is that brands are constantly being monitored and regulated. Long gone are the days when a company could say one thing but do another. There is always someone watching, ready to hold brands accountable, and push the sustainable fashion movement forward. The negative to the excessive rating is the increase in unverifiable statements. While good rating sites and influencers provide data and facts to support their claims, social media allows for untrue statements to be shared in the same format, without distinction. All these different sources providing varying ratings can confuse consumers.

Each rating system remains different in keys ways.

Right now, there is no all inclusive, detailed rating system that covers every area that consumers may be interested in. Good On You, for example, analyzes thousands upon thousands of brands, but they do simple, surface-level research, mostly relying on brand pledges and industry reports to put together their scores. Mochni and its Eco Alphabet Brand Directory work with the brands they highlight, with CEOs submitting their brands for consideration and writing the sustainability statements used in the Brand Directory. The Green and Blue Journal, which has its own Brand Analysis section, uses information directly from a brand’s website but does not work with them or rely on industry reports that are made in partnership with brands. Each rating site gets its information from different sources, and each rating site focuses on different categories and measurements.

If regular updates are not provided, then the whole rating system goes bust.

The definition of sustainability, particularly when applied to fashion, is ever changing. Consumers constantly expect more, and brands are continuously improving and implementing new initiatives. If ratings are not regularly updated to reflect the changes in sustainable fashion, they quickly become outdated. Since multiple review sites exist, it is even more important for them to be refreshed regularly. How can consumers be expected to compare a review that is five years old with a review written two weeks ago? The definition of sustainability has changed, and the brand being reviewed has changed, and the person’s attitude towards the brand may have changed. Reviews should be updated at least once a year, possibly more frequently for big, global brands.

As for Adidas, The Green and Blue Journal gave it a slightly different rating.

After the controversy surrounding Good On You’s Adidas rating, The Green and Blue Journal analyzed the sportswear brand. GBJ determined that Adidas’s score was actually much closer to a 1.9/5 rather than a 4/5. After re-reading Good On You’s take, it is clear that different data were considered and used. That is not to say that Good On You is untrustworthy, though. Rather, the difference in scores should highlight how different sources and criteria can influence each brand rating, and consumers should not rely too heavily on one rating over another.

Keep Reading:

Unpacking the Rating System (Good On You)

Eco Alphabet Directory Criteria (Mochni)