How can you tell if a business is truly heading in a sustainable direction? How do you know if it is genuinely manufacturing ethically, paying its worker fairly and using positive materials?
Greenwashing is rampant, but there are a few indicators that can signal when a business is actually doing the right things. One of those is B Corp certification. This is a status given to those businesses that comply with the highest standards of transparency and social, environmental and legal accountability. To achieve B Corp status, all aspects of a business are scrutinised and reviewed. They're then given a score based on the impact of the business. If the business achieves a certain score, it will be certified B Corp.
In honour of Earth Day, which falls on April 22 each year, we've pulled together a list of the B Corp fashion and beauty brands that you should keep front of mind. These are the brands doing their bit for a brighter future.
Born in Melbourne in 1987, Aesop began with an objective to formulate products of the highest quality. Today, the brand has become synonymous with luxury. Aesop products are a tactile and olfactory journey, ones that have a unique ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary. As a brand that has never tested on animals and with a history of philanthropic endeavours, it is unsurprising to see the name Aesop on the B Corp certified list.
The biggest B Corp in Australia and New Zealand, Kathmandu was started more than 30 years ago, driven by a passion for the outdoors. Inspired by the idea that out in nature is where we live our best lives, Kathmandu created its first fleece jackets. It wasn't long before Kathmandu became the household name in outwear and outdoor accessories. As a brand built on a passion for the environment, B Corp certification was a natural move in Kathmandu's journey to do business in a better way.
The first underwear brand in Australia and New Zealand to achieve B Corp Certification, Boody balances its people, the planet and profit. Boody creates everyday basics, from underwear and lounge to activewear, as sustainably as possible. Using organic bamboo - a plant that needs far less water than cotton - and mindful production processes, Boody as a brand is a force for good. The quality is also very high and the bras are very supportive.
Naturally Emma Lewisham makes the list. Time and time again, this clean beauty brand continues to make it's commitment to the future of our planet clear. Its status as a B Corp certified business is just one of its eco-accolades. Emma Lewisham is also the first brand to have a carbon positive product range - that means the business offsets more carbon than it produces. As for the product efficacy? Well, there's a reason why this is one of the most loved brands by editors, influencers and celebrities. Try the Skin Reset Serum if you haven't already.
Allbirds started with a simple mission - to make better things in a better way. The brand founders began by developing a new kind of footwear, one made from sustainable merino wool. But the brand quickly evolved beyond its footwear moving into apparel and even activewear. As a B Corp certified brand, it considers the environment one of its stakeholders in its pledge to do business differently.
Australian-made and based in Sydney, Bondi Born has always been a brand with a commitment to slow fashion. The brand is famed for its sleek and pared-back approach to swimwear and apparel and is stocked by a suite of the most prestigious global retailers including Harrods and Net-a-Porter. Even before Bondi Born was B Corp certified, it's mission statement was “to empower and inspire the summer style of women all over the world, while never compromising on quality, people or planet.”
Another leader in the beauty industry, Sunday Riley went through two-year process where every aspect of its business was evaluated in order to get its B Corp certification. Brand founder Sunday Riley was always passionate about "green technology", balancing science-backed actives with botanicals. As such, being sustainable is part of the brand's DNA. Sunday Riley is one of the most hyped brands on the market, and if you've ever tried a bottle of Good Genes, you'll know why.
Renowned luxury marketplace wants to reconcile the desire to be passionate about fashion but also the want to preserve our planet. Fashion unfortunately fuels some of the world's biggest problems. But one of the solutions is buy and sell quality pieces. According to the brand's ethos it's "not about loving fashion any less. In fact, we need the world to love it more. The planet’s favourite fashion is the one that already exists. It’s called pre-LOVED fashion for a reason." Vestiaire Collective was the first resale platform to achieve B Corp certification.
Clothing The Gaps
Celebrating the culture of the Australian First Nations people, Clothing The Gaps is a majority Indigenous-owned fashion brand managed by health professionals. Clothing The Gaps pieces carry a strong message but its business is also a vehicle for change and self determination. A social enterprise through retail, over 80% of employees are Indigenous. In addition to being B Corp certified, its accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia and also registered with Social Traders.
Brazilian brand Veja has been doing business its own unique way since 2005. The luxury sneaker brand creates ethically-made shoes using local, sustainable materials, and for a similar price point to other sneaker brands. How? Well, Veja doesn't advertise. The brand asserts that 70% of the cost of normal sneaker brands is related to advertising, brand ambassadors, billboards, marketing etc. Instead, Veja invests this money into sustainable and ethical production.
Making clothes for those that like to get outdoors, naturally Patagonia is concerned for the future of the outdoors. An early leader in sustainable design and production, Patagonia has been B Corp certified since 2011 and was one of the first fashion brands to achieve this status. The brand's mission statement says "we aim to use the resources we have—our voice, our business and our community—to do something about our climate crisis."
Luxury Italian haircare brand Davines was founded in 1983 in Parma. It was originally a research lab that produced high-end hair products for other companies, but eventually the Bollati family behind the lab began its own line exclusively for salons. The brand is now in more than 90 countries and additionally expanded into skincare. But despite all its international success, the brand remains true to its root and its head office is still in Parma. The Davines group attained B Corp Certification in 2016.
French luxury fashion house Chloe was the first luxury fashion house to achieve B Corp certification. It was a huge milestone for the industry. The certification came under the leadership of creative director Gabriela Hearst. Chloe said of its certification on Instagram: "we are proud to be the first luxury Maison to join this community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. By becoming B Corp certified, we reinforce our ongoing commitment to taking accountability for our impact on people and the planet."
Cult brand Weleda is a long-held beauty secret amongst those in the industry. Countless models and editors list the brand's Skin Food product as skincare essential. The brand originally began as a pharmaceutical laboratory that made products from it medicinal garden and since it evolved into one of the biggest creators of holistic cosmetics in the world. As a brand committed to the environment, Weleda says B Corp certification was a logical step for the business.
Ellus & Krue
A brand created after the Painter family met microbiologist Professor Derek Richard. Together they worked to create a product that would heal Painter patriarch Anthony's skin following the removal of skin cancers. The product worked so well that it naturally grew into Ellus & Krue, a brand all about effective and botanically-led skincare. In addition to being B Corp certified, Ellus & Krue donates 20% of its proceeds to cancer research.
The Body Shop
The Body Shop has always been a leader in ethical leader in the beauty space. Even in the 70s, well before words like "ethical" or "sustainable" were being used, The Body Shop was creating naturally-derived products with a focus on refilling. It never tested on animals and focused on working fairly with farmers and suppliers. The Body Shop has seen business as a force for good for over 40 years. Despite the immense size of The Body Shop's business, it was certified as a B Corp in 2019. Today it is one of the largest global B Corps.