You bring your reusable organic cotton produce bag to the grocery store, you drive an electric vehicle, and you scoop your doggie’s poo with compostable pet baggies. But despite all your meaningful sustainability efforts, if you’re still supporting #fastfashion, it’s time to get on board the #slowfashion, sustainable fashion brand train... like, yesterday.
What makes a fashion brand sustainable? Well, a few factors, depending on your values, and what you're looking for. An ideal garment has been sustainably made (with eco-friendly clothing-making processes) from sustainably and locally sourced materials, and in healthy, ethical conditions where workers are paid well, treated well, and valued. No sweat shops, and no synthetic fibers. So, if you're ready to start buying sustainable fashion brands, keep reading for some of our favorites.
Able is based in Tennessee in collaboration with female artisans in Peru. Fair labor practices are a big part of Able’s business model, offering everything from women’s apparel to shoes and accessories, while striving to end generational poverty by creating economic opportunities for people — especially women — to better provide for themselves and their families. Able pays fairly and also offers unlimited shipping, should you order something ill-fitting.
Allbirds uses premium natural materials, according to their website, in an effort to “make better things in a better way.” The most common sustainable materials used in Allbirds’ items are wool, tree, sugar, and Trino, which is “nature’s super-yarn," comprised of renewable tree and merino. It claims to be responsibly sourced “right down to the fiber level,” and let's face it — it's super soft.
Anna in Bhutan
Anna in Bhutan is a luxury, sustainable scarf line that is handmade in Bhutan. The company’s processes are carbon-negative, and the business also empowers, encourages, and promotes the work of women, as many of their weavers are female. In addition to offering hand-woven silk and cotton scarves, Anna in Bhutan also has a line of Save the Forest Tote Bags and has partnered with One Tree Planted. For every scarf purchased, One Tree Planted plants a tree.
Based out of the U.K., Boden Clothing sells men’s, women’s, children’s apparel, aiming to use 100 percent sustainable viscose, cotton, and Lenzing verified Tencel by 2025. Similarly, the company aims to use 100 percent sustainably sourced denim by 2020 and 100 percent regenerated, or recycled swimwear materials regenerated yarn from waste by 2025.
Dhavani has an answer to notoriously unsustainable sportswear: leggings, sports bras, and other athletic wear that are made from recycled plastic and custom-made sustainable fabrics like Aranya and ReNu. One pair of leggings is made with 26 recycled plastic bottles, and don’t worry — they’re BPA-free.
DSTLD stands for Distilled Jeans, however this sustainable brand also offers tees, leather jacket, and other essentials in its shop. By using only eco-friendly, premium fabrics, natural dyes, and natural softening techniques, DTSLD keeps their impact low, and only uses responsible suppliers. The company also employs ethical pricing by using a “middleman-free stance” that “filters out extra steps and excess markup.”
Eileen Fisher is a sustainable fashion brand founded in 1984. Ahead of its time, Eileen Fisher prides itself on caring about doing good business, supporting women, and making quality clothing without harming the environment. You’ll find every sustainable material from cashmere and velvet to rayon, and 100 percent organic linen.
Etica is a Los Angeles-based brand that promises to use less water, less chemicals, and ultimately, produces less waste while creating its clothing items. In using plant-based dyes and softeners devoid of harmful chemicals, as well as using E-Flow machines that wash with water vapor, Etica has garnered both environmental and ethical certifications. The brand also uses recycled fabrics from dead stock and has vowed to use sustainable brand packaging. Sweet!
Everlane was built on an ideology called “radical transparency,” using the best factories internationally, and maintaining ethical production from start to finish. Everlane is known for revealing the true cost of each item they make, as they believe the customer has the right to know how much they’re profiting versus how much a product cost in production. Their clothing is ethical, affordable, and the cater to a minimalistic aesthetic that’s timeless but also trendy right now.
Fame and Partners
Fame and Partners makes “custom clothing for modern women,” delivering made-to-order essentials that “celebrate diversity.” Per their website, they utilize a zero-waste sustainable manufacturing platform, taking care to bring no harm the planet in its clothing-making process, while offering contemporary women stylish, event-appropriate wear for fancier occasions, such as weddings.
FreeCountry’s new outwear and activewear line FreeCycle powered by REPREVE is completely made out of recycled plastic. From jackets to puffer vests, each item is made from a fiber from recycled materials, which includes plastic bottles. Who knew that plastic bottles could be so comfortable?
Harvest & Mill
Harvest & Mill offers organically grown, milled, and sewn organic cotton pieces. Their supply chain is 100 percent USA domestic, which reduces the travel raw materials must endure, and they claim to use less energy and water during their production process. From joggers to socks to tees, there’s nothing on Harvest & Mill that you won’t want.
While not all of Hat Attack’s collections are 100 percent sustainable, the brand recently unleashed a new line of hand-woven bags, which features three sustainably made bags woven from a material called Water Hyacinth. Made from dried stems of the Water Hyacinth plant, these bags are completely biodegradable at the end of their life. They're handcrafted and produced as part of a government initiative to “promote sustainable livelihood in the rural areas of India.”
Clothing from Henri is made from hand-woven organic cotton on-site at their shop in London. The company, founded in 2016, focuses on producing modern, fashionable clothing while never sacrificing social responsibility. The owner of the company, Henrietta, has traveled to India to meet the cotton farmers who source her organic cotton, and only hires those that align with her business’ values.
Laiik is an affordable, Greek sandal brand that uses a unique process of vegetable tanning to color its sandals made from Vachette leather. Known as veg-tanning, the process is both a traditional and organic method of leather tanning, without all the chemicals like chromium and nickel. The natural tannins—derived from oak and chestnut trees—used to tan the leather do not have a harsh impact on the environment and are totally biodegradable.
California-based bag brand, Maniwala, makes plant-based, plastic-free accessories, with some made with a sustainable, plant-based alternative to leather called piñatex. The exterior is made from pineapple “leather,” while the interior is made from hemp muslin lining. All of their bags and accessories are ethically made in the U.S. from globally sourced materials, and the company puts a strong focus on using only sustainable textiles.
Once you see how absolutely chic the Modern Picnic lunchbox is, you won’t believe it’s a lunchbox. Made from quality vegan leather on the outside, the inside is insulated and features functional elastic silverware slots. You can reuse it again and again and again and best of all, no one will even realize it’s a lunchbox unless you show them the inside.
Regarded as “intentionally designed, ethically made,” and “fairly priced,” Nisolo is a sustainable and ethical shoe company. Including women’s shoes, men’s shoes, boots, chukkas, mules, oxfords, loafers, sneakers, heels, sandals, bags, and belts, all of Nisolo's products are designed in Nashville, Tenn., handcrafted in Peru, and are always made from ethically sourced materials, such as the highest quality leather.
Ozma of California
Ozma of California may be a bit pricey, but you won’t find any synthetic fabrics in their stock. Linen and silk are two of the most popular fabrics you’ll find at Ozma, as part of the company’s main ethos is embracing nature, and they also stick to a very nature-driven palette. According to their site, Ozma is “passionate about creating garments with conscious awareness at every step.” Production is kept small, local, or artisanal and garments are made with sustainable fibers only.
There’s a lot to love about Pact, a Colorado-based, Fair Trade Certified clothing brand known for super-soft tees, underwear, and dresses that are made with organic cotton. Their supply chain is immaculate — from the growth of their organic cotton to the harvesting, everything is done in the most Fair Trade, safest, and sustainable way possible. Not to mention, their organic cotton is non-GMO.
Paradigm Eyewear by Kenmark offers optical glasses and sunglasses that are both stylish and responsibly produced. Styles are hand-crafted by a team in Louisville with superior craftmanship as their main focus. Paradigm is also committed to providing workers fair wages and reducing environmental impact. Part of the company’s modern perspective, of course, is that you look good in their glasses, but also that the environment and the workers are treated fairly in the process, too.
Pixie Mood makes sustainable vegan bags, wallets, and accessories that source innovative and eco-friendly materials. Every item is cruelty-free and leather products are made using a leather alternative called Polyuerethane (or PU-leather). The fabric is also soft and not sustainable to cracking like some other synthetic leather alternatives.
prAna launched with sustainability in mind back in 1993. It was the first North American apparel brand to produce Fair Trade Certified clothing, and has given back more than $550,000 in Fair Trade premiums. The brand uses 100 percent organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, recycled wool, recycled nylon, Lenzing Tencel, and RDS-certified down to create their line, Clothing for Positive Change.
Reformation believes that you don’t have to indulge in fast fashion in order to be trendy. This eco-friendly company is made in the U.S. and uses sustainable fabrics to produce everything from women’s apparel to outerwear to bridal. Reformation pays carbon offsets, offers living wages to workers, and even offers a plus line, which can sometimes be hard to find when perusing sustainable fashion brands.
Rothy’s shoes span from boots and slip-on sneakers to flats and loafers, but what all of their shoes have in common is that they are made from recycled materials. According to their website, Rothy’s has been sustainable “since day one,” from their materials and production to “the way we treat our people.”
At Sourcery Label, you’ll find sustainable, washable silk that is beautifully designed and environmentally friendly. The brand heralds a sustainable supply chain that includes raw silk sourcing, dyeing and printing responsibly, using significantly less dye. They also have an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, which means they never use harmful chemicals like AZO colorants, formaldehyde, cadmium, and nickel, which are common in the fast fashion industry.
Based in California, Tradlands focuses on ethical production, uses natural and sustainable materials, and even goes as far as to recycle their fabric remnants. Their clothes are for women but inspired by high-fashion menswear. For each garment, Tradlands has a goal of using 98 percent of the materials, then recycling what’s leftover.
Make 2021 the year you shop ethically — the environment is counting on you.