American Eagle, along with its child company Aerie, has boomed in the past few decades as a clothing brand for teenagers and college students.

American Eagle and Aerie are not a clear black-and-white case of ethical practices. With some companies, it is easy to give them an enthusiastic YES or a hard NO, but that is not the case here. Aerie runs the same as it’s parent company, American Eagle, but promotes itself very differently. Let’s start with some of the good things: first of all, Aerie has a campaign called #AERIEREAL that encourages confidence in women of all body types. They don’t re-touch photos, and have sizes that fit a vast range of shapes for all women. This is an ethical marketing practice, as it is encouraging self-worth not based on image. American Eagle dabbles a bit in promoting the environment, but it is not a clear focus in their marketing and company culture by any means. However, this is as far as ethical practices are outwardly proved within the company.

American Eagle and Aerie, within their parent-child business relationship, do not claim to know their entire supply chain. They source from 21 countries all over the world, and have an entire separate website sharing a great deal of information about their relationships and how they choose vendors based on transparency, but they never actually share such transparency with the public. This is generally not a good sign. Maybe they do know about the details of ethics and regulations deep in their supply chain, but if they do they aren’t sharing it. If companies are willing to share this information, it displays honesty with where they’re at and accountability to move forward. American Eagle’s website appears to be a lot of fluff, telling the public what they want to hear without having to say what actually is important.

They do have a code of vendor conduct, addressing many of the typical issues of production and labor ethics. In addition, they have revealed their scorecard for compliance with these issues in 2011 and 2012, and the results are very, very poor. However, for some reason, there is no scorecard past 2012, though the page about their ethics was published in 2014.

Overall, American Eagle and Aerie don’t deserve an A+ or an F for their practices. In reality, it’s quite hard to tell at all what is going on. So, without such clarity, it is hard to purchase from them going forward based on ethics alone. Though it might not be all-bad, it is a better option to buy similar products from a company we can have full confidence in.

Written by: Madeleine Williams