7 Sustainable Fashion Brands That Should be on Your Radar
We’re all aware of the impact that so called fast fashion can have on the environment and upon the humans who produce it. We’ve seen the horror stories. But has it really changed our buying behavior? I’m not proud to say that I’ve often turned a blind eye to these implications when the price and style was right, or I’ve simply failed to inquire.
Thankfully, there’s a growing band of on-trend brands who place their ethical practices front and center and can help us shop with a clearer conscience. Full disclosure: some may ask more than you’re accustomed to paying, but others impressively manage to stay within a the kind of pricing we might expect from less principled labels.
7 Ethical Fashion Brands You Should be Buying
Add these sustainable fashion brands to your mental rolodex and look them up next time you go shopping:
A pioneer in sustainable Fair Trade fashion since 1991, UK-based People Tree is the OG sustainable brand. Their core mission is to produce every product to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish, creating “stylish, innovative and affordable fashion while respecting people and the planet.”
People Tree delivers to the UK, mainland Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
Everlane prides itself on “radical transparency”, explaining the actual costs of production of every garment it makes and placing huge emphasis on fair wages, hours and working conditions for its manufacturers.
With the average tee costing $20 and jeans $70, its pricing policy is certainly reasonable and its minimalistic aesthetic seriously on trend.
Based in Los Angeles, Reformation explains on its website that:
“Up to 2/3 of the sustainability impact of fashion happens at the raw materials stage - before the clothes have actually been made. Fiber selection also affects how you’re gonna wash the garment, and potentially recycle it one day - both important factors to consider when it comes to the environmental impact.”
“Ref” grades fabric from A (Allstars) to E (Eww, never) on this basis and aims to make 75% of its products from grade A and B fabrics, as well as employing sustainable production practices.
The pieces produced as a result are not cheap, but not unreasonable ($100-130 for jeans, $50-150 for a top) given that the attention to detail in the design and fit is well beyond the realms of fast fashion and the brand is a favorite of many style icons (think Meghan Markle and Emma Watson).
They also do a stunning line of wedding dresses for $250-500 for those who want something a little different on their big day.
For affordable basics (tees, tanks, hoodies and sweatpants) look no further than Atlanta-based Alternative Apparel.
The brand says:
“…we use oxo-biodegradable mailer bags & have implemented a vendor recycling program. A majority of our factories are WRAP-certified, and all of them adhere to Fair Labor Association guidelines & workplace code of conduct….Our garments are crafted with sustainable materials & processes, including organic & recycled materials, low-impact dyes & water-conserving washes.”
Shipping and returns within the US are free, but they do operate internationally. Menswear is also available.
Offering a great line in bags, shoes and jewelry as well as apparel, Able is almost a one-stop shop for your sustainable fashion needs. More trend-driven than some of the other ethical brands, you’re guaranteed to find something to bring your look up to date without the fast-fashion fallout.
Able is “focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women”. Its products are made in Peru, Mexico and Ethiopia by women who are given an opportunity to earn a living, empowering them to end the cycle of poverty that kept them trapped in prostitution. A goal to truly feel good about.
Its denim range is particularly impressive and priced around $150 for a pair of jeans, Able’s quirkier pieces are also a big draw, like this jumpsuit.
Able is based in Nashville, TN, but ships internationally.
“…we only partner with the most reputable manufacturers in the industry. Our team actually walk through the factory floor to converse with the workers of every factory that we work with to ensure that they are fairly paid and fairly treated”
As well as clothing, shoes and jewelry with an Asian minimalist aesthetic, Siizu also offers homewares and candles. In addition to an NYC headquarters, they ship internationally.
Like many sustainable brands, Elizabeth Suzann strives for pared down, classic shapes which will become wardrobe perennials, or as they describe it:
“We believe in mindful, careful consumption. In reducing waste, in creating long-lasting garments that serve many needs so you can buy fewer of them…. We are a label born out of dislike for excess and desire for quality. Practicality, elegance, comfort and attention to detail are at the forefront of our philosophy”.
This aesthetic is not for everyone, but if it’s your thang, you may just have found our new style heaven. All Elizabeth Suzann’s products are hand sewn in Nashville, TN (something of an epicenter for ethical fashion, it seems) using high quality, natural fiber cloth, and they even offer made-to-order garments in addition to the ready to wear collection.
Of course, this artisan approach has a price tag - pants average $200-250 and dresses are around the same. A nice touch is that shipping is always free, even for international customers.
Hopefully this list of sustainable fashion brands has inspired you to make a change in some of your ordering habits, it has for me. Have I missed any ethical brands you love? Have you ordered from any of these companies? Comment and send photos! And, of course, check out our Pinterest Board which has loads more sustainable stylespiration.