Stella McCartney writes on her website that ‘eco’ shouldn’t be a word “that immediately conjures up images of oatmeal-colored fashion or garments that are oversized or lacking in any sort of luxury or beauty, detailing or desirability”. Of course, any stereotype can be hard to banish but to help change your mind, here are some of our favorite sustainable fashion brands that produce high-quality, eco-friendly collections. Enjoy shopping with a clear conscience.
Ali Golden is known for her quirky sensibility and outspoken dogma, from her bright colors and polka dots to her anti-Trump pins. The collection is designed and produced in California, while they partner with a co-operative in Peru and fair-trade certified factory in India.
Sustainable footwear brand Allbirds has sold over a million trainers in the US alone. Time described the label’s offering as “the world’s most comfortable shoe”, and while we’re inclined to agree, the brand also puts understated style at the forefront – if you want fuss-free, versatile trainers that you can style with just about everything, Allbirds is your new go-to. The brand is serious about its sustainable ethos – its soles are made from sugarcane and its upper fabrics from either eucalyptus trees or naturally-made merino wool.
Alternative Apparel offers minimalist basics like tees and tanks, distressed denim, and hoodies, many of which are Fair Trade and WRAP certified.
Committed to changing the way we view the consumption of fashion, Arcana provides heirloom fashion inspired by treasures passed down to us by our grandmothers. Pieces are made to be cherished and to last, and perhaps, to be bestowed one day upon the generations to come. Arcana uses only materials that are produced with respect for the planet, and uses their local New York Garment District manufacturers whenever possible so that they can regularly ensure that the people who make your clothes work in a safe environment and are paid a fair wage.
Armed Angels infuses their philosophy of Fair Fashion over Fast Fashion into all of their modern and contemporary essentials. Their fabrics meet the Global Organic Textile Standard while they are part of the Fair Trade initiative and Fair Wear foundation.
Natalie Florence Hellyar had a vision for a more connected planet while she was living in Africa and has since turned it into a trusted ethical brand to love. Made exclusively with GOTS or OEKO-TEX certified fabrics and in responsibly run factories, Arraei Collective’s natural fiber clothing helps us get rooted in a conscious lifestyle. They also take it up a level, using 100% recycled paper and all natural hemp twine for their packaging and branding.
ASOS Eco Edit
The ASOS Eco Edit collection includes trendy clothing, accessories, and skincare from different eco-friendly brands and an awesome partnership with the SOKO Kenya initiative. Despite being known as a fast-fashion powerhouse, ASOS is making headway with this collection where brands need to stack up against detailed metrics in order to be added this collection.
Behno’s mission is to redefine and bring sharp awareness to sustainability and ethics to fashion, to set a new standard for manufacturing for the global garment trade that revolutionizes the way garment workers and artisans are treated, viewed, and employed. Behno has partnered with a large non-profit and a successful industrialist of the garmenting industry to build an ethical garment factory called MSA Ethos which focuses on knits and wovens ready-to-wear.
Brooklyn-based Bhoomki features brands who source organic, recycled and/or artisan fabrics, while their in-house line is cut and sewn in child-free factories where workers receive a living wage under humane working conditions. Whenever possible, they manufacture in NYC, use low-impact dyes and offset shipping costs with carbon credits toward renewable energy initiatives.
Bunosilo creates handmade products in India utilizing traditional heirloom techniques and ethically sourced fabrics. With a modern, yet distinctly Indian aesthetic, they specialize in jewelry, leather accessories, home goods, and a range of linen and silk clothing for both men and women.
Cardànas is a fair trade brand who strives to elevate social consciousness, so designs each 100% cotton, natural rubber and artisan leather shoe responsibly. Plus, for each pair they sell, they plant a tree.
For 25 years Coyuchi has been committed to safe and humane working conditions from farm to factory. They’ve used sustainably grown and produced organic and natural fibers that are free of the toxic dyes, bleaches and finishes used in conventional textiles. This saves makers, the earth and our skin from toxic chemicals.
DL1961 is a New York City-based premium denim brand specializing in high-performance, sustainably manufactured denim that always offers a perfect fit. Instead of buying their materials like other denim brands, they start from scratch with cotton and Lycra from the US and natural indigo dyes derived from plants. Plus, their Environmental Impact Measurement (EIM) software by Jeanologia monitors every piece of denim they make, tracking its water consumption and dye usage.
Their name is Dolores Haze and they aren’t afraid to talk about the things affecting women. Based in NYC, the subversive-feminine brand works with immigrant women-run factories, immigrant small business owners, and sources both vintage and sustainable textiles including vegan leather. Founder Samantha Giordano, a Parsons Graduate, took it up a notch by donating 10% of profits from their capsule collections to Planned Parenthood. Dolores Haze shows us that the definition of feminism isn’t about about a selfie or a hashtag, it’s about real political change.
Ecoalf introduces recycled materials in the design of all-occasion comfortable garments: high-quality clothes made of recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets and other sustainable materials. The Ecoalf Foundation has undertaken its most ambitious project to date: Upcycling the Oceans, an unprecedented global adventure that will help rid the oceans of rubbish through partnership with fishermen.
Eileen Fisher makes it easy to look classy and feel ethical. By 2020, the company hopes to achieve an industry where human rights and sustainability are not the effect of an initiative but the cause of a business well run. Because of this vision, Eileen Fisher strives to work with only sustainable fibers like organic cotton. They also aim to reduce fabric waste and shift toward a more responsible usage of chemicals, water, and energy. Although the company is extremely transparent on their quest to learn more about the journey of each of their products, from fiber to factory, they’re also committed to improving the livelihoods of their workers as well. Eileen Fisher has trained workers at their key suppliers to voice their rights, invested in supply chains that pay fair wages, and regularly audit their factories compliance with strict labor standards.
Emma Watson is also a big fan of Gabriela Hearst, a brand based on a passion for quality. The designer creates a conscious capsule wardrobe with luxury price tags, but the brand’s attention to detail is what truly makes each piece worth investing in.
Selling almost every apparel item you can think of, Grana has the feel of a high street brand with an added emphasis on high quality fabrics and a code of conduct for their production process.
Groceries Apparel is redefining transparency and human responsibility by supporting their family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free, post-consumer ingredients. Their operation empowers human beings through fair-trade, fair conditions, and fair treatment across their entire supply chain, and by providing full traceability to their customers.
Kit Willow’s brand Kitx, that works with artisans in India, is built on a belief of ethical, sustainable fashion. One of Emma Watson’s edgiest red-carpet looks of recent times came courtesy of Kitx. The brand holds the simple mantra of wanting to make women feel good, without harming our planet.
Kowtow’s minimalist clothing is certified organic and fair trade. With an interest in craftsmanship and sustainability, they exclusively use organic cotton, GOTS certified dyes, and have partnered with Fairtrade International to help cover education and medical costs for employees.
Levi’s Better Cotton
Nothing says classic like a pair of Levi’s jeans. The company may have invented the blue jean but they’re reinventing what it means to wear them. In 2010, Levi’s launched the Better Cotton Initiative training farmers to use less water, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizer when growing cotton. They’ve developed a Screened Chemistry program which restricts harmful substances from their supply chain and use methods approved by the Responsible Down Standard to source their down jacket filling. Levis also developed a Water<Less line which is made with water saving and recycling techniques. The company’s respect for their makers extends beyond the factory walls. Their Worker Well-being initiative enables makers to access education, healthcare, family welfare programs, and financial empowerment.
Love Stories Bali
Love Stories Bali empowers women to be beautiful inside and out by handcrafting sleepwear-to-streetwear pajamas that are stylish, sustainable, and help others. Made with ethically-sourced fabrics in a clean, safe, and fair way, your purchase also helps underprivileged children and their teachers get the education they deserve. Not just pajamawear. It’s pajamawear with purpose.
MANTA Swim veers from mainstream swimwear and focuses on women who appreciate clean, modern design steeped in classic and enduring shapes and patterns. Their line features simplified luxury made with recycled nylon fabrics milled in Italy and by makers employed by ethically run USA factories and fabric printers
Mara Hoffman’s collections are made for the confident and color-loving woman. They have invested in sustainable fabrics like GOTS cotton, upcycled materials for packaging and tags, digital printing, regular factory audits, and more.
Misha Nonoo started her eponymous line to stop the stress of dressing, so the modern women can spend more time pursuing her passions. Her best-selling ‘Easy 8’ collection shows just that, with eight pieces that come together to create 22 different looks. Recently, two cashmere designs expanded her collection, with can be personalised for the perfect gift. Sustainability is at the core everything. Her clothes have a long and valuable life, as she uses innovative production and distribution to avoid unnecessary waste and only works with one seasoned factory for ethical practices.
Naja empowers the women who make and buy their light and diverse lingerie. They employ single mothers and female heads of households in addition to providing school supplies and meals for their children. The result is a beautiful product that makes a difference.
Nicora Shoes emphasizes ethical production and the use of materials -most famously known for vegan leather. The brand has an in house team of scientists to ensure there is a reduced impact on the environment. In addition, Nicora is the only female-founded shoe company made fully in the USA!
Nisolo is all about timeless design, tradition, and quality—and caring for their shoemakers and the planet. Nisolo responsibly sources their leather from tanneries committed to ethical treatment of animals and the implementation of eco-friendly waste disposal systems. The company also supports the use of vegetable tanning which uses natural oils, completely eliminating the possibility of contaminating the environment. Most of Nisolo’s products are made in their own facility in Peru, where shoemakers earn an average of 140% of what they were earning before, and enjoy well-being benefits uncommon for where they are. In addition, they make sure that the factories they partner with offer formal employment to their employees, access to healthcare, and paid vacation.
Older Brother is a genderless clothing line that is cut, sewn, and dyed in Los Angeles. Made with small batch organic or synthetic plant-based fabrics, their collections are hand-dyed and can organically decompose at the end of their life cycle.
Organic Basics was created in 2015 by four Danish guys who wanted to turn the fashion industry into a force for good. For them, buying better made means investing in quality that lasts. For the most sustainable results, they focus right across the supply chain, using enduring sustainable materials and factories who care about their workers. Every 3 months for example, they visit their GOTS certified organic cotton farms, and factories in Izmir and Istanbul to make sure they are sustaining fair and safe industry practices. They sit with their garment makers, eat lunch in their canteen, and ensure the factories are socially sustainable.
Outerknown was created to smash the traditional fashion formula. To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove you can actually produce great looking menswear in a sustainable way. Through their Code of Conduct, they build products by making every decision with the highest regard for the environment and the people we work with.
PACT Apparel is on a mission to make supersoft essentials feel as good as they look. Committed to the use of organic cotton, PACT minimizes their impact on the environment and improves the conditions of those who make their clothing. Since no toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton, PACT’s farmers and their families are not exposed to harmful insecticides or pesticides. In addition, their organic cotton is certified by The Global Organic Textile Standard which protects worker rights ensuring that employment is freely chosen, working conditions are safe, living wages are paid, no discrimination is practiced, and no child labor is used.
With a mission statement that reads, “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,” it’s no surprise that Patagonia is out to change the fashion industry. In fact, there’s a lot to love about this company that’s increasing wages for makers and protections for migrant workers, figuring out how to use reclaimed and recycled materials, and helping its customers extend the life of their products so that they can buy less. There’s no doubt Patagonia occupies a special place as a true activist company—digging in on environmental protection and donating 100% of its Black Friday profits to benefit the planet.
For over 25 years, People Tree has been a pioneer in making environmentally sustainable clothing, partnering with artisans and farmers in developing countries to produce look good, feel good, fashion. They do everything Fair Trade, organic, and natural so that they can—and do a lot to connect consumers with the people and stories behind their clothes. On the environmental side, People Tree opts for sustainable, cleaner, greener, and handmade whenever possible. They promote natural and organic cotton farming and avoid using damaging chemicals in production (where possible, they use recycled biodegradable substances instead). People Tree also tries to recycle everything they can, always aiming to protect water supplies and forests in the environments they work in.
Created in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation is so much more than just a stylish clothing brand. With sustainability at the core of everything they do, Reformation makes sure to use the most efficient, eco-friendly technologies and practices they can get at their factory. In addition to investing in green building infrastructure, Reformation scores big with their RefScale—which measures the carbon, water, and waste involved in making each product, and how it compares to the industry norm. Also important to the Reformation brand is its employees. The company is on its way to paying its makers a living wage, offering hourly workers more than minimum wage, health benefits to all full-time employees, and Metro passes to encourage more use of public transportation.
Study New York
Study New York cuts and sews their minimalist collections domestically using both ethical fabrics and production methods. They are committed to 100% transparency by listing all details on their product tags – from fiber content to manufacturing practices.
Synergy Organic Clothing is a GOTS certified womenswear producer based in California. Their collections feature trendy, everyday pieces made by their partner artisan groups in Nepal to which the company has a special connection. The founder started the company was inspired during a trip to Nepal in the 90’s and now work with artisans there and in India ensuring they receive fair wages, safe working conditions.
The Little Market
The Little Market is a nonprofit online marketplace founded by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla to empower women artisans and their communities globally. Working through cooperatives and social enterprises, the duo provides a platform for artisans to expand their customer base while helping them improve their quality of life through fair pay, business trainings, literacy workshops and much more.
Thief&Bandit is a line of hand printed, handmade jewelry and apparel out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Their business model is simple: quality organic fabric with unique hand drawn prints sewn into garments that are both easy and fun to wear. All of their fabric is hand printed in house using giant silkscreens on organic jersey fabric, made to order and sewn by their trusty and talented seamstresses in their downtown Halifax studio.
Founded in 2004, Veja is a Fair Trade brand that uses the finest materials to create the finest of footwear and accessories. Labeling their company philosophy as a “project,” Veja is serious about knowing who grew the cotton, tapped the rubber, and stitched your shoes together. They work with organic cotton and food farmers whose crops are cultivated without chemicals or pesticides, use wild rubber from the Amazonian Rainforest, fighting deforestation, and tan their leather using natural acacia extracts rather than heavy metals, decreasing pollution. Although Veja is doing their part to take care of the environment, they also make sure that the people they work with and do business with are getting paid well. Veja even sacrifices their marketing budget (instead of makers’ wages) to keep their shoes affordable.