The ultimate guide to sustainable clothing brands
The environment has always been something that I care about deeply. I have always done my part to recycle, not eat meat and limit my single use plastic to almost zero. Yep I am that annoying friend that calls people out on using plastic water bottles. It was not until a friend pointed out that I was a bit of contradiction, promoting the environment yet shooting images in fast fashion brands.
It got me thinking and I started researching sustainable clothing brands, sustainable materials, ethical clothing, organic cotton, and so on. You name it my google history probably has it saved. So let me run you through the essentials and give you an overview of sustainable clothing brands that look good and are really comfortable to wear too.
The basics, getting the terminology right: Sustainable fashion, sustainable materials, sustainable fabrics and organic cotton
Sustainable fashion is the movement that advocates change in the fashion industry by striving for a manufacturing process for clothing, accessories and other items in a way that takes into account both the social-economic (for example fair wages for the people making your clothing) and the environmental aspects (for example the use of sustainable fabrics) of the process.
Sustainable clothing is made with sustainable fabrics or sustainable materials like for example sustainably grown crops (ex: organic cotton, bamboo) or even recycled materials (ex: clothing, plastic bottles). Learn more here
Why wear sustainable clothing brands?
Did you know that the fast fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all our greenhouse gas emissions (source: UN 2018) It is not far behind the meat industry, which is accountable for roughly 14,5% of the total emissions.
The 10% are mainly a result of the industry business model behind fast fashion and the product process linked to this business model – Produce as much as possible, for the cheapest price.
This model requires the use of cheap manual labor (underpaid workers in shoddy working conditions) and the use of highly polluted chemical treatments for dyeing materials to produce that 2€ T-shirt you might wear once.
Not to mention the huge amount of clothing that is not sold which is incinerated or thrown into landfills. As 60% of the fabric fibres are synthetic (derived from fossil fuels) they will not decay in the landfills and are hazardous to the environment.
By choosing to invest in sustainable clothing brands you are stepping away from this model and the strain it puts on both environmental and human resources. Sustainable clothing brands work with more traditional production techniques, sustainable fabrics and are manufactured with more love for the workers in the textile industry (e.g. fair wages and working conditions). The pieces are built to be more durable and are less likely to be bound to seasonality or the “whims of fashion”.
That is not to say that sustainable clothing brands are boring. I have compiled a list of sustainable clothing brands that have served me well on my travels and even at home. The list was compiled taking the following elements into account:
- Transparency: How transparent are the brands about their product process? Is it clear where the products are made and by who.
- Use of sustainable materials: What materials are used to create the products.
List of Sustainable Clothing Brands
An Australian brand which advocates the use of sustainable fabrics (plantbased fibres) and is ethically produced in Bali. Their clothing is timeless and the dresses are beautiful and flowy. I took them with me all over South East Asia and they are still my go-to brand sustainable brand when looking for comfy chic.
Oh and they use biodegradable packaging when they ship their items!
Lowie is a sustainable womenswear label with a focus on traditional handicraft and heritage elements. They are based out of the UK and known for their use of sustainable fabrics and manufacturing process that focusses on low energy consumptions. They work with manufacturers they know that pay their workers fairly.
Additionally they offer a neat service of free repairs for life on their products!
Another Australian sustainable clothing brand which production sites both in Bali and China. Both factories are run by a family and are committed to looking after their employees. The China factory even offers jobs to the disadvantaged members of the community.
The shipping domestic (inside Australia) is done in a compost bag (100% biodegradable).
A German sustainable clothing brand that uses sustainable materials such as organic cotton, organic wool, ecological and clean viscose (LENZING™ ECOVERO™), recycled plastic, organic linen and TENCEL™ Lyocell.
The brand is Fairtrade and Vegan. It has a line of Clean Denim (which is mighty comfy I might add) and is also part of the Fair Wear Foundation ( a foundation committed to improve workplace conditions in a sustainable way).
A relatively new sustainable brand which is based in France. It calls itself determinedly unique, resolutely human and très French.
The designs are ultra-feminine and oozing with class. But what is even better is that 70% of all the materials they use are made with sustainable fabrics and they have just launched a Clean Denim line.
With their catchy tagline “Being naked is the #1 sustainable option, Reformation is #2” this US based sustainable brand has made nothing if not a bold statement.
They products are made with sustainable fabrics such as TENCEL™ Lyocell and deadstock fabrics (leftover fabrics from textile mills and garment factories). Another cool feature is that 2-5% of their stuff is made out of vintage clothing which the brand sources across the US to repurpose into new pieces. The brand states it has been carbon neutral since 2015.
The products are produced all over the world, and factories are regularly audited to see if they adhere to the strict Code of Conduct set up by the brand. The Code of Conduct is based upon the Global Social Compliance Programme’s (GSCP) Code of Conduct which represents international standards for fair labor conditions and fundamental labor rights.
Arnhem is another Australian sustainable clothing brand. It describes itself as Bohemian and adventurous at heart and soul with signature prints and feminine silhouettes.
They have switched to sustainable materials such as LENZING™ ECOVERO™ which has 50% lower greenhouse gas emission and 50% lower water impact.
They have also switched to digital printing of their fabrics which is a cool feature. Digital printing is far cleaner as it is applied by ink jet and uses minimal colorant.
Christie Dawn is a US brand with vintage inspired designs. They use deadstock fabric (leftover fabrics from textile mills and garment factories) to minimize their ecological footprint. The garments are handcrafted by local artisans in downtown LA.
Son de Flor
One of my go-to brands for timeless, feminine and charming linnen dresses. This sustainable brand uses sustainable materials such as linnen that is locally produced with all the yarns being raised in the EU. The products that are not produced at home (Lithuania) are outsourced to local producers that comply with EU regulations for respectful working conditions and salaries.
The company ships their products, and does not use a single piece of plastic to either wrap or deliver the product.
Spell and the Gypsy
Spell and the Gypsy is (yet another) Australian Sustainable Brand that is know for its beautiful bohemian inspired clothing. The brand uses sustainable fibres for their materials and works closely together with an organisation called Canopy. Canopy works with fashion brands to ensure their cellulose fibres (viscose, rayon, tencel, modal) are not contributing to the deforestation of ancient or endangered forest.
They are part of the Circular Fashion Commitment and have a strict Animal Welfare Policy and Sustainable Supplier Policy. They will only work with suppliers that provide a healthy and safe workplace for their employees and ensure minimal impact on the natural resources of our planet.
List of Sustainable Accessory Brands
A vegan footwear brand offering luxury footwear that is designed in England but ethically handcrafted in Spain using luxury Italian (sustainable) fabrics.
The brand does not use any animal products instead opting to use sustainable materials such as 100% recycled faux leather lining with a vegetable polymer coating. The insoles of the shoes are made with a good 70% post consumer cardboard and their heels and top decorations are made with PU plastic that are injection moulded. The souls of the products are made with a rubber resin that is 70% recycled.
Matt and Nat
Matt and Nat is a Canadian based sustainable brand that does not use any animal-based materials in their design. They produce beautiful bags and luggage in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. Their linings are made with sustainable fabrics such as 100% recycled plastic bottles and recycled bicycle tires.
Other sustainable materials that are used in production are PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride). PU is less harmful for the environment than PVC and we make it a point to use it whenever possible
Shop here or here
We can all be a little more sustainable…
Aside from buying new clothing have a think about incorporating clothing swaps or even going to thrift stores to find your newest wardrobe. These are inexpensive ways to reduce our carbon footprint and still look fabulous at the same time.
So that’s in on my end. Hope this list was helpful to you!
I will be updating this list on a frequent basis as I continue my journey into sustainability so be sure to check back in regularly.