Ethical shopping app hopes to change the way New Zealanders shop for clothes

A new crowdfunding campaign hopes to bring an Australian ethical fashion rating app to New Zealand.

Dunedin-based social enterprise Sustainable Projects is crowdfunding on PledgeMe to bring a popular Australian ethical fashion rating app to New Zealand. Called ‘Good On You’, the free app will provide ratings for the ethics of more than 350 popular fashion brands available in New Zealand.

The idea was sparked by Kiwi shoppers’ growing interest in how sustainable or ethical fashion companies are.

Sustainable Projects lead catalyst Bec McMaster says as shoppers are becoming more interested in the ethics of fashion, they’re finding it difficult to determine just how sustainable or ethical brands really are.

An ethical fashion survey she conducted last year found 66 percent of respondents felt shopping for ethical and sustainable products was very important to them.

It also found that shoppers’ main barriers to buying sustainable fashion were: It’s hard to identify what’s ethical, it’s hard to know which brands to trust and that the clothing may be more expensive.

McMaster also points to the results of Colmar Brunton’s Better Business Report from 2015, which found 64 percent of Kiwis are willing to spend more on the best organic, sustainable and ethically products available.

She says it’s not much of a stretch for these values to also apply to clothing, as people engage with clothes every day just like food.

“I strongly believe that the organic and Fairtrade movements predominantly in the food industry are pioneering the space for other industries to have theses conversations with their customers (and ideally their investors) too,” she says.

“It's a powerful thing when consumers have the language and information to apply their values across many aspects of their purchasing habits. The leap from food to fashion isn't so vast.”

The crowdfunding campaign kicked off on Friday 22 April and will run for one month.

Good On You NZ - Crowdfunding Campaign from Bec McMaster on Vimeo.

The campaign is aiming to raise $12,000 to cover the costs of the research and development of bringing the Good On You app to New Zealand. Just over $1000 raised so far.

If successful, the app will be launched for free on Android and iOS this August.

The five-point rating system used to grade the brands will be based on brand’s impact on people, animals and the environment.

Information to decide the ratings will be gathered from third-party certifications like Fairtrade, the Global Organic Textile Standard and Baptist World Aid’s Beyond the Barcode survey, which The Register reported on last week.

The Baptist World Aid survey ranked Australian and New Zealand fashion brands based on their ability to monitor the risk of exploitation in their supply chains.

The story about it on The Register proved how big the consumer appetite is for ethical fashion, racking up over 30,000 views and over 100 shares on Facebook in 48 hours.

However, some complained about the survey not having a wide enough scope due to the survey being Australian-based and only including information about New Zealand brands operating within the Australian market.

McMaster says to her knowledge, there isn’t anything like The Good On You app exclusively targeting fashion in the New Zealand market.

 “That's why we're so keen to bring it here to empower consumers with trusted ratings that are easy to understand,” she says.

Some of the more interesting features of the app include users having the ability to send messages to fashion brands within the app to congratulate or encourage them, the ability to filter clothes by values or personal style (like Tinder but for fashion) and location tracking to help users find the closest ethical store to them.

The Australian-based version of the app has had more than 24,000 downloads so far.

McMaster says the Good On You app will be grading fashion brands that are the most popular within the retail market in New Zealand.

There will be a focus on brands designed or made in New Zealand that have a mix of ethical, environmental or animal rights at the core of their business, such as Kowtow Clothing or Thunderpants underwear.

Information will also be gathered on brands that have already been rated in Australia and are also sold in New Zealand. The Australian version of the app features over 3000 brands.

McMaster says the number of brands featured on the app will continue to grow, post-launch.

“Then we will cast the net much wider, responding to consumer requests for ratings of particular brands - a great feature of the app,” she says.

Check out the full campaign on PledgeMe.

This article originally appeared on The Register.