Sports and outdoor retailers sell a range of different brands, sometimes alongside own-brand items. They are often ‘one-stop’ shops selling everything from sports clothing to tents to climbing nuts, and exist both on the high street and online. Only about a third of the brands in our Outdoor Clothing guide have their own physical shops. So if buying in person, most of us will visit a retailer to compare options and try items on.
Larger outdoor clothing shops
Unfortunately, ethical policies amongst the retailers are generally not impressive. The top scoring retailer, Mountain Warehouse, only gets 6.5 out of 20 whereas the top scoring outdoor gear brand, Paramo, scores 14. It may be better to decide on your preferred clothing brand and get it straight from them.
Sports Direct was the biggest player in the UK sports and outdoor shops market, but has been overtaken by JD Sports (which includes Blacks, Millets and Go Outdoors). Between them they accounted for over 60% of the market in 2019.
How eco friendly are outdoor retailers’ own brands?
As well as selling products made by other companies, many of the retailers in this guide also sell own-brand products. All of the money spent purchasing these products will go straight to the retailer. Because of the comparatively low scores achieved by retailers relative to brands in our Outdoor Clothes shopping guide, you may want to avoid the following brands:
|Decathlon||Forclaz, Kalenji, Newfeel, Quechua, Simond, Wed’Ze|
|Sports Direct, Field & Trek||Karrimor, Everlast, Gelert|
|Mountain Warehouse||Mountain Warehouse|
|Blacks, Millets||Peter Storm, Eurohike, Blacks|
Low scoring retailers
The retailers in this guide were universally low scorers and rated poorly for a number of elements in our score table.
- All but JD Sports received our worst rating for Environmental Reporting.
- They all scored worst for managing workers’ rights in their supply chains.
- They also all scored worst for carbon reporting and management.
Local independent outdoor clothing retailers
Although we haven’t been able to rate them all in this guide, your best bet if buying new is likely to be visiting a local independent store. While they’re not guaranteed to have stronger policies, at least you’re supporting your local economy.
As well as professional fittings, some independent retailers will provide you with guidance on care and repairs, and ‘stretching services’ for boots if they’re pinching in one or two places. One retailer, Foothills in Sheffield, even offers free guided walks most Wednesdays.
Buying second-hand outdoor clothing and equipment
When buying outdoor gear, our key recommendation is to look for ways to buy second-hand. We haven’t rated second-hand retailers in this guide, and unfortunately many (e.g. eBay) are not renowned for their ethics. However, buying second-hand is a great way to address some of the environmental and human rights impacts of the actual item you’re purchasing.
We give recommendations for buying second-hand in our Outdoor Clothing guide.