Sustainable, organic, and ethical clothing brands are no longer a niche category. There are more eco-friendly clothing brands now than ever before! The fashion industry sees that consumers are becoming more conscious of the wasteful practices of large fashion companies. The manufacturing of textiles requires tremendous resources, manufacturing perpetuates poverty in factory locations, and our almost obsessive consumption of clothing leads to many purchases in the landfill.
Even larger companies are taking more initiative to become more sustainable. For example, Levis reconfigured how they create their denim. They are now able to conserve 95% more water than they were before. You can even find a label inside of jeans that says ‘water less’, since clothing is often associated with major water waste and require much water throughout its life cycle.
I want to share with you my favorite brands that are taking leaps and bounds to live up to their title as ethical and sustainable fashion brands. But first, what does ethical fashion mean?
Most of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint happens during the manufacturing of textiles. By this, I mean the making of cotton, polyester, or any other fabric. Did you know that one cotton tee shirt uses 2,700 liters of water to create?
Polyester does not have a much better track record as it is usually created in factories powered by oil and coal. Plus, polyester contains microplastics that will eventually pollute our water supply. An ethical fashion company would choose to use more eco-friendly materials like organic cotton (made with efforts at conserving water), linen, or hemp, amongst others.
Ethical fashion brands also look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while manufacturing clothes. For example, they may use green technologies to power their factories or use recycled cloth that is being wasted by large factories. There is a myriad of ways for a company to be more earth-conscious, and luckily many brands are starting to take notice.
A major ethical problem in the fashion industry is the treatment of textile workers. Only 2% of textile workers are paid a living wage. People can see no end to the cycle of poverty if they make barely enough money to sustain themselves. By companies paying living wages, they are also investing in the communities that they are using resources to make their clothing.
Many textile workers also face dangerous work conditions. In 2013 a factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers. It was an entirely preventable accident if administrators had spent money to make working environments safe. An ethical company will make sure that workers are being kept safe and treated properly.
Without further ado, here are my favorite ethical fashion brands that do all of the above and much more. Here are 6 ethical fashion brands that my closet is loving right now!
Want to learn more about the dangers of fast fashion? Check out my article How Fast Fashion is Hurting Our Planet.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links (at no cost to you). However, all the product recommendations and reviews are of my own opinion.
Pact is a Colorado based brand that is great for your everyday basics. On the homepage of their website, it reads, “those who make are equal to those who wear.” That tells you what you need to know about Pact. They are committed to fair wages and quality of life for their workers. Pact also uses 100% organic cotton farmed without the use of any harmful chemicals. They even have a program where you can recycle old clothing, towels, and linens.
ABLE is a woman-centered ethical fashion brand. 95% of ABLE employees are women. The company’s goal is to enrich the lives of women by employing them and lifting them out of poverty. As you may know, female employees around the world make less than men. But a women’s paycheck often goes farther as they are more likely to invest their money back into the community and towards the the wellbeing of their families.
ABLE goes so far as to publish the wages they pay their employees! They publish the lowest wages (entry-level wages) that they pay their workers. This holds ABLE accountable to their mission and allows costumers to make more informed choices.
Tonle is a zero-waste fashion company. Zero waste means pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Tonle uses scrap material that would be discarded by big clothing companies and uses it to make creative and fun clothing! You can find very cute pieces at Tonle, including the most comfortable looking rompers! They also curb their environmental impact by using a solar-powered factory. They use 100% post-consumer recycled content for their shipping and packaging.
Everlane is a sustainable apparel company that is rooted in ‘radical transparency’. You have the ability to see the exact factory each piece of clothing is made in. You can see for yourself the excellent working conditions, innovative programs that the factories have to improve the lives of workers, and their eco-friendly methods of production of their factories.
Every product has a breakdown of the costs of production and how much Everlane sells the item for. It allows you to see how much the materials, labor, and other factors like tariffs and transport cost for each product. You can then compare it to the cost Everlane sells it for and the cost other traditional retailers would sell it for. It is clear they sell their goods at much more reasonable prices making high quality and sustainable fashion more accessible.
I am in love with Everlane’s Day Glove, the most comfortable flats that go with everything!
Symbology, a personal favorite of mine, is a beautiful clothing company that aims to ‘make fairtrade sexy’. Their use of artisanal fabric techniques and meaningful design motifs from around the world result in exquisite pieces of clothing. Their dresses are great for special events such as weddings! I am getting married in 2020 and consider wearing one of their sustainable and fair trade wedding dress (with pockets)! They also have dresses that make beautiful bridesmaids dresses (that bridesmaids will want to wear again and again). Check out more about Symbology in this Ted Talk by Marissa Heyl, the founder of Symbology!
Kotn is an eco-friendly clothing company that creates organic cotton products. They focus on maintaining traceability of their clothing. You can learn about the life cycle of a product from the farmers that grow their cotton to the mill that makes the yarn. Next, you can read about their fabric mill, where they dye their products, and finally where they cut and sew the end results together. All of Kotn’s manufacturing and production is based in Egypt. They also give back to the communities they work in by creating schools.
As the name suggests, Kotn is perfect for cotton wardrobe staples.
I would be remiss if I did not add the fantastic shoe company Nisolo. Nisolo’s shoes are handmade in Peru by skilled and fairly compensated workers. Their shoe markers are full time contracted workers with beyond fair trade wages and healthcare. The shoes produced are absolute perfection.
If you happen to think that sustainable and ethical clothing also has to be simple, unpatterned, and well, maybe a bit boring, you are about to be blown away. Tamga makes gorgeous clothing in hand-drawn vibrant and colorful patterns! Tamga’s pieces are flowing with bohemian air but made with the ethical practice we all look for! Created shortly after the tragic viagra Rana Plaza collapse, Tamga is committed to manufacturing in safe conditions for workers and the environment. They are partnered with Canopy Style and the Sumatran Orangutan Society to protect the Sumatran forests, which are rapidly being destroyed due to production demand.
Cuyana’s motto is ‘fewer, better.’ They aim to make high-quality clothing that is versatile enough to wear all the time and will last. Their products are crafted in small prednisone batches by artisan workers. In efforts to minimize their carbon emissions, Cuyana’s products are manufactured close to their material sources. 80% of their products are made from natural resources. And while they do sell leather products, 90% of the leather they use is Gold Medal certified by the Working Leather Group – kind of like getting the gold medal in the leather making Olympics for sustainability and eco-friendliness.
Treat your self this cold weather season with this Baby Alpaca Oversized Turtleneck Sweater!
If you need new boots for this fall/winter, take a look at their exquisite collection of shoes. On my wishlist this Christmas – their effortless Chelsea Boot.
If you want to learn more about the dangers of fast fashion, check out my article How Fast Fashion is Hurting Our Planet!
What are your favorite ethical fashion brands? Do you shop with any of the companies listed here? Let me know in the comments below!