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Who are the World’s Most Ethical Brands?

This month, the London based 2012 SOURCE awards recognized excellence in fashion and sustainability across 12 different categories – including Innovation, Africa Award, Outstanding Contribution, Sustainable Style Icon and Brand, Design and Retail Leaders and more.

“SOURCE recognizes that sustainable practices are not an optional add on – but a fundamental requirement for any business to compete in commercial and resource terms in the fashion industry today,” the SOURCE website states.

Brands were judged on a set of guidelines provided by the Ethical Fashion Forum, along with information sent by applicants, referenced wherever possible against other information such as certifications held and membership of SOURCE partner organizations.

So, who are the world’s most ethical brands, according to the Ethical Fashion Forum’s SOURCE awards?

1. Honest by won the innovation award, recognising new talent in fashion design and textiles design, combined with innovation in sustainability terms. The brand creates forward-thinking, chic, wearable mens and womenswear made with respect to the environment and people. “The world’s first 100% transparent company launched in January 2012 by acclaimed designer, Bruno Pieters,” SOURCE explains. “Honest by is the first company in the world to share the full cost breakdown of its products.”

GUNAS was awarded for innovation in accessories and footwear, fashion-forward handbags and accessories made out of animal-friendly leather alternatives either rescued, recycled, AZO-free or LEED certified and produced in small factories in India and internationally.

Lastly, Hearts was awarded for innovation in upcycling vintage jewelry, restoring and combining different pieces to make new, one of a kind and hand-made pieces.

2. If you’re looking for children’s wear, look no further than Toto Knits, awarded for displaying ethical, organic knitwear handmade in Kenya by single mothers.

3. The “brand leader” award was given to businesses combining product excellence with best practice in sustainability terms. Inspired by East African culture, Lalesso was the designer brand presented with this award for transforming the community where its products are manufactured. THE IOU PROJECT was presented with the street/casualwear brand leader award for providing an internet based tool linking customers emotionally to its brand values, and satisfying the need both to empower the consumer, and the artisans they source from. Lastly, the New York based company Andean Collection was awarded the brand leader title for accessories and footwear.

4. The fourth award was for sustainable suppliers, honoring both social and environmental sustainable practices in the supply chain. Mantis World was presented with this as a supplier for the imprintables market. The Organic Textile Company was presented with this award for fabrics and components made from seed to loom without harming anyone: only using sustainable fabrics, organic and fair trade organic cotton.

5. Fifth, the Africa award recognized the potential for fashion business to transform livelihoods and opportunities in Africa. This was presented to SOKO a clothing manufacturing unit in Kenya based in the region with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Not to mention a high rate of prostitution, HIV/AIDS positive population and animal poaching.

6. Think Boutique was given the “independent boutique” award for their practice in the curation, marketing and sale ofsustainable fashion through a multi-brand platform.

7. SUNO, a New York based womenswear label founded in 2008 by Max Osterweis in collaboration with designer Erin Beatty was honored with the “design leader” award for recognizing commitment to sustainability by leading, mainstream and high profile fashion designers. SUNO has evolved its business to include production in Kenya, India, Peru as well as its home base of New York.

8. For recognizing commitment to sustainability by leading, mainstream and corporate retail chains, ASOS was given the “retail award” as both one of the most popular fashion websites in the world and one of the first sites to launch a specially curated eco fashion edit – The Green Room.

View the rest of the awards.

Photo via: Margaret Jacobsen.

Written by Shanley Knox

Founder/owner of the Nakate Project, an initiative bringing third world female artisans to high fashion. I am passionate about all things that are truly sustainable, and truly making a positive difference in the world around us.

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