Parent companies who own child companies within the same brand are a common trend in today’s shopping market. The child companies can be the same size, smaller, different styles, varying quality, and even have different names and target markets from their parent companies. However, often times, the parent company runs each child brand differently based on it’s characteristics, which can trickle down into their ethics and labor rights. An ethical parent company could own a child company that isn’t run ethically.

But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, parent companies who run ethically in many aspects have the power to implement this same ethical structure down through all their child companies, regardless of price, style, target-market, and quality. Old Navy, run by GAP Inc., is a great example of this.

In an earlier post, we shared about how GAP, another child of GAP Inc., is doing great things in labor rights progression, accountability, and transparency that led us to give GAP a thumbs up for ethical shopping (See GAP post here). Even better, though, is that the programs being implemented through GAP are being implemented into Old Navy as well. And with that also comes the knowledge that both Banana Republic and Athleta, GAP Inc.’s high end and athletic brands are ethically producing as well.

As written in the GAP article, workers in factories producing Old Navy brand clothing are benefitting from GAP Inc.’s implementation of labor protection and female empowerment programs.

As for the difference in prices between GAP, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, there is a simple explanation. With many companies, the quality and price of clothes can speak about the ethics behind them. But, because GAP Inc. has so many different brands with different qualities and textiles with uniform labor rights programs implemented through all the brands, it doesn’t make a difference. At the bare bones of it, nicer clothes are made from nicer fabrics, which are made from nicer yarns. The quality of the yarn itself has nothing to do with labor rights. What matters is what happens to it next. As it is the same through all GAP Inc. brands, the fabric quality isn’t tied to ethicality.

Old Navy is an example of a child company who, though it is a cheaper bargain brand, is benefitting from the ethical commitments of it’s parent.

Written By: Madeleine Williams