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How & Why Do We Rate Brands?

Why Do We Rate Brands?

Before knowing the how? It makes more sense to see why we are rating; what’s the need? You may not know, but Outdoor Favor was first started to share knowledge to enrich outdoor activities – camping guides, Rving, wildlife, and outdoor apparel. But now we have begun to cover fashion along with adventures. Firstly, I thought it might not be a good idea to include style on a website about the outdoors. After reading and watching so much about fashion, I realized the fashion industry is currently hitting outdoors the most; how?

If you love hiking or any outdoor activity, would you not care about nature, wildlife, pollution, emissions, and exploitation (of both people and nature)? Or you go camping to cut off from the world and live in an illusion that everything is good, the earth is full of love because birds are chirping, and waterfalls are singing. You probably wear clothes and gear for any adventure; ask if it is sustainable and what’s the actual cost hidden beneath the dollars you paid (Environmental cost, humanity cost, and cost of resources).

Photo by Tom Fisk

Have you ever gone to a beach or riverside polluted by plastics, polyester, or clothes? I don’t know how fashion is not related to the outdoors, directly or indirectly. It is affecting human health, wildlife, and aquatic life. Outdoor Favor favors loving earth; ironically, the earth is always loving – go back to 10,000 years, and now, we are making the hell out of sacred earth. Don’t believe me; you have the internet just lay some minutes on facts, and you’ll realize the value of rating brands by a third party like us.

Types Of Brands That We Rate?

On Outdoor Favor, you’ll see brands that sell all kinds of outdoor gear and brands that sell fashion or style to rock in daily life. Now fashion speaks many things, and we don’t intend to cover all categories under fashion. We’ll focus more on brands that sell:

  • Apparel
  • Accessories (Shoes, hats, handbags, watch, wallets, etc.)
  • Jewelry (brands that solely focus on jewelry)
  • Beauty brands to some extent (If we see that certain brands need to be addressed, then they would be, but it is not the focus of this site)

How Do We Rate Brands?

If brands can be cruel, then we can be even crueler in our report. If brands honestly love sustainability, ethics, transparency, and nature, then we give them the utmost respect and love.

Michael – Founder, Outdoor Favor

Michael nailed it! That’s who we are; sustainability, transparency, environment, nature, human treatment, ethics, care, and honesty is the core of Outdoor Favor, we breathe it, and we feel poignant when we hear that to pour the market with styles in the lowest price, labor is being exploited as they belong to mars, not to earth, cruelty on animals to get the leather, wool, cashmere, etc. before the animals are naturally prepared for it, using harmful materials to make clothes that don’t only harm human but life around us, burning chemicals, toxic wastewater being directly dumped into the river without treatment. I still do not understand how this industry is not responsible for health or toxicity in outdoor life.

We promise that we will not be biased in any way, and we will give you an in-depth insight into each brand’s ethical and sustainable approach along with our rating out of 5 (we will see what each rating means shortly). The reports will be based on varieties of principles and core metrics; some important ones are:

  • Public transparency
  • Labor and working conditions
  • Environmental impact
  • Animal welfare
  • Social impact
  • Inclusivity

Along with the above metrics, we use many others to address the appropriate rating for each brand. Now, how do we make sure of the accuracy of the rating? For this, we conduct research that starts from the publicly available information about themselves on their website or social media platforms; just by this, we can get a sense of how good they depend on the amount of transparency they offer and whether or not they make correct and realistic claims or just faking the books to improve the reach by fooling the media and customers.

That’s just the beginning. After that, we collect data and information from trusted and reputable sources available on the internet, such as third-party audits, surveys, certifications, standards, media interviews, recent labor strikes, customer experience, laws, coverage, government-conducted research on the industry that particular is working and the percentage it holds, market share, customer trust and loyalty, brand’s corporate responsibility, code of conducts, industry standards, and hundred other data points.

Then we look for the certifications and environmental & labor standards it has and the reliability and power that particular certification or standard hold. Is that certification easy to acquire by single or virtual audit? Or it is hard to get as it requires multiple audits annually or biennially, how elaborate the audits and surveys are, and our list of questions goes on.

Some certificates and standards that we look for in each brand are:

  • Fair Trade USA
  • SA8000 Standard
  • Fair Trade International
  • WRAP
  • Ethical Clothing Australia
  • World Fair Trade Organization
  • Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)
  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
  • USDA Organic
  • Climate Beneficial
  • Build Nest (NEST)
  • Bluesign Standard
  • Cradle to Cradle Standard
  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100
  • Global Recycled Standard (GRS)
  • Leather Working Group
  • Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Canopy
  • Eco-Cert
  • 1% for the Planet
  • PETA
  • The Higg Index
  • B-Corporation
  • Sustainability Brand Index EU
  • Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)
  • Fair Wear Foundation
  • Responsible Wool Standard (RWS)
  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Recycled Claim Standard (RCS 100)
  • Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA)
  • OCS 100 – Organic Content Standard
  • ZQUE Wool
  • Sourcemap
  • Cotton Made in Africa
  • Sustainable Apparel Coalition
  • Certified Wildlife Friendly
  • EcoMark: Japan
  • EcoMark: India
  • Responsible Mohair Standard
  • Responsible Alpaca Standard

There are even more factors that we take into account, but you’ll be bored seeing the complete list. Now, one important thing is that there are 100s of certifications available, and we are not 100% sure that they are being provided without any politics or after rigorous testing; that’s why we don’t rate solely based on the certification and standards that brand has and believe in doing research from our side to get the clearer picture. The ratings are also based on what we feel is good, what our heart is saying after reading the complete account of the brand.

And if we don’t feel like the brand is as good as what they say in their books or with certifications, we would not rate them all five leaves. Because what better indication of the brand can be than our human heart that beats for life and not for commercial benefit?

Our Rating System

Our rating is based on the overall score that the brand gets in people transparency, labor & working conditions, environmental impact, animal welfare, and social impact (our five pillars). The description we have put for each rating is just the tip of the iceberg, so don’t think (as a brand or customer) that we base our rating on those few lines. We only mentioned some essential things to understand the robustness of our rating, as it would be too tedious for you to read pages about each rating.

Great Leader

If you see a brand rated as “Great Leader” or five leaves, then you have found a gem because it is the most complex rating to get, as reaching this level means the brand shows total transparency of the supply chain from seed to the final product. Paying more than a local living wage plus an excellent working environment (it should be publicly available), using only eco-friendly materials like 100% organics or 100% recycled, non-toxic dyes, etc. Have a recycling program or sell-back program in place. The brand is taking steps to give back to the planet and people in one way or another to positively impact lives. It is conscious of animal welfare and has relevant certifications and standards to showcase the genuineness of its claims. When we see a brand getting five leaves, we dig even deeper to ensure they’re not getting it just by chance.

Climbing Up

“Climbing Up” rating or four leaves means that the brand is aspiring to achieve a rating of “Great Leader.” Still, some work must be done in the next 3 to 5 years. They are transparent about their business, pay a living wage, and have audits to ensure good working conditions for laborers and employees. About 90% of their materials are eco-friendly and non-toxic, like 100% organic or recycled. They have a dedicated strategy to move towards 100% sustainable/non-toxic/organic/recycled materials, constantly striving toward zero waste. ‘Climbing Up’ brands show leadership in one or more areas.

Slow Runner

“Slow Runners” are not bad, but moving too slowly. Show at least the bare minimum transparency about their supply chain. And total transparency about the policies and practices they implement to be a more ethical and sustainable brand. Discloses their sustainability goals and a pragmatic way to attain them. The brand addresses its material issues and strives to include more sustainable and better materials.


They show some information about one or more of the five pillars and are conscious of the global benefits of being sustainable, but they are not taking adequate steps to be one of them. They have addressed at least one material issue.

We Avoid

We don’t recommend or think of buying these brands as they offer little to no information about their goals to be more sustainable and often use the word ‘sustainability’ or ‘ethics’ as a marketing tactic without proof that they are doing anything related to it.

Our Badge

Now, do you remember the quote by Michael… “If brands can be cruel, then we can be even crueler in our report. If brands honestly love sustainability, ethics, transparency, and nature, then we give them the utmost respect and love.”. Yes, we genuinely respect and love such brands, so the brands rated as “Great Leaders” or “Climbing Up” will be rewarded with our badge. If you see any brand using our badge, then first search for that brand on because each brand we offer this badge will have a detailed report on our website. If that report is missing, they are using the badge without our permission, and in that case, don’t hesitate to contact us, as we only want to offer our auspicious badge to deserving brands.