Sustainability and sustainable clothing brands are at the forefront of consumers’s minds these days — especially as we reconsider how everything from the food we consume to the beauty products we put on our skin is made. Fashion is unfortunately one of the biggest contributors to the enormous excess waste in landfills and damaging fossil fuel emissions caused by factory manufacturing over the years, and deserving of a major rethink. Thankfully, there are many sustainable clothing brands that are aiming to reverse the damage being done and create positive change for the future throughout the industry as a whole.
While searching for ways to incorporate more earth-friendly styles into your wardrobe, it is important to consider the materials, production processes, and factories that brands use. With these points in mind, we’ve curated an eco-conscious list featuring some of our favorite sustainable clothing brands to help you buy more mindfully for the future. Whether you are on the hunt for a new handbag, activewear set, or a swimsuit to kick off the summer, look no further than these sustainable brands you can feel good about investing in.
Transforming the activewear space since its launch in 2016, Girlfriend Collective offers sustainable fitness gear in a diverse size range, up to 6XL. Known originally for their cute, matching activewear sets, the brand has evolved into intimates, menswear, and their latest launch: swimwear. The clothes are made from recycled materials like post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets retrieved from the seas, fabric scraps, and other waste. Girlfriend’s factory is SA8000 certified and their recycled fabric is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, the world’s leader in testing fabrics to regulate harmful substances.
Co-founded by pro-surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown was created upon the principle of making excellent-quality, sustainable products that last a lifetime. The brand, which highlights the importance of workers’ rights and livelihoods, partnered with the Fair Labor Association to create its code of conduct and create its products in Fair Trade Certified™ factories — a few of the ways the brand demonstrates its mindful principles. Perhaps best known for their evergreen organic cotton blanket shirt, don’t miss the many options for both men and women, ranging from utilitarian jumpsuits to soft tees and loungewear.
Best known for its comfort-forward sneakers, Allbirds has made a mark on the footwear industry with its commitment to sustainability since its launch in 2016. By focusing on regenerative agriculture and using renewable materials and responsible energy in their production processes, the brand has been able to decrease its carbon footprint. Materials such as wool, TENCEL™ Lyocell, and sugarcane have allowed the brand to create a product from natural sources. Partnerships with organizations like ZQ Merino and the Forest Stewardship Council ensure the brand meets strict standards to protect the land and the animals and people who depend on them. And Allbirds doesn’t just stop at footwear. The brand now offers a line of apparel and accessories for both men and women.
Mejuri may be known for its high-quality jewelry at a fair price point, but it is also a sustainable choice. 80% of the gold used is from recycled sources and the remaining 20% is newly mined gold from sources that are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). By working with the RJC, Mejuri has been able to further its continued mission to ensure that 100% of its gold is traceable. Also believing that true sustainability means empowering those around you, in 2020, Mejuri created the Empowerment Fund, which supports BIPOC women and nonbinary individuals by giving them access to higher education through scholarships.
Mara Hoffman’s line is extremely fashionable, but more so the brand has become a pioneer in sustainability and pushing the contemporary fashion space forward. Hoffman’s designs are typically associated with volume, texture, and print, and are manufactured in a variety of sizes up to 3X. Through a wide array of sustainable fabrics including ECONYL, Hemp, Organic Cotton, Climate Beneficial Wool, and Tencel, the brand has been able to create a collection that is not only rich in variety but also eco-friendly. Furthermore, 100% of swimwear is produced using recycled nylon or recycled polyester. Fair treatment of workers and artisans is also at the forefront of the company’s priorities, partnering with countless organizations like Earth Matter to Fashion Positive, in order to minimize waste and energy usage wherever possible throughout the entire production process of the garment.
Inspired by her Nigerian mother from a young age, Autumn Adeigbo had an extensive career in fashion before creating her own namesake line. Founded with the intention of positively impacting the lives of women across cultures, the brand utilizes female-owned production facilities in the U.S. and provides global artisans with meaningful employment and fair wages. Adeigbo’s bold and colorful designs are made-to-order, eliminating surplus stock of fabric, unsold inventory, and excessive manufacturing. The final product is a special, limited edition piece, that is meant to be treasured by the customer for years to come.
Stella McCartney’s namesake label has been synonymous with eco-friendly high fashion since its launch in 2001. The brand has been entirely fur-, feather-, and leather-free from day one, and has made immense progress in the sustainability arena over the years by incorporating eco-friendly fabrics, materials, and processes. The brand endeavors to create the most cutting-edge materials and animal alternatives, continuously pushing towards circularity and full transparency by developing tools to measure their impact, such as their Eco Impact report. They also follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to guide the company towards best practices, and carefully select its materials and products through a network of global suppliers and artisans.
Former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski brought her editorial eye to create JADE Swim, a swimwear line with a minimalist design approach that showcases innovative silhouettes with unique design details. All items are made in Los Angeles with attention to craft and factory working conditions. The designs feature fabrics made from ECONYL, a 100% regenerated nylon made from recycled items, such as fishing nets, plastic bottles, and fabric scraps. Oeko-Tex certified and Azo tested fabrics can also be found among the brand’s materials, and by only offering solid colored fabrics, excessive water usage needed for the process of traditional pattern printing is eliminated.
When creating his designer footwear label, Alfredo Pīferi considered how a luxury shoe could be made sustainably through all aspects of the production process. Each Pīferi shoe is handmade from eco-friendly sourced materials by local artisans in Parabiago, Italy, focusing on traditional craftsmanship and care. The entire shoe is considered in the design process, from the upper materials ranging from BIOVEG-certified Bio Vegan nappa and Vegan suede to insoles made from 100% pure cellulose, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), which promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests. The brand’s styles range from strappy heels to dainty mesh flats.
When it comes to lingerie, Parade has disrupted the market with its minimalist shapes, bold colors, and inclusive fits. Not only does the brand offer diversity in styles, but it also was founded upon the core value of striving to make all products from reclaimed, recycled, responsible, renewable, or regenerative materials. All fabrics used are Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they have been tested to ensure no toxic chemicals are present. Every factory used is either WRAP, Fair Trade or SA8000 certified, meaning a high environmental practice standard is met and workers are paid a living wage according to the Global Living Wage Standard. Parade also offers a recycling program called Second Life, that allows the customer to recycle as many pairs of underwear as possible, regardless of brand.
LEZÉ the Label
LEZÉ the Label focuses on quality basics that are earth-friendly and extremely comfortable. When developing the brand, co-founders Karen Lee and Tanya Lee saw a missing niche in the industry for ultra-cozy workwear clothes that were also sustainable. All fabrics used in the production process are created from recycled materials, such as abandoned fishing nets, sustainably sourced beech trees, and even used coffee grinds to create the pajama-like soft garments. LEZÉ also offers a diverse size range from XS to 3XL for product inclusivity throughout the line.
Santos by Mónica
Santos by Mónica is a ready-to-wear and accessories brand that focuses on the values of sustainability and responsible business practices. Founded by Puerto Rican designer Mónica Santos Gil, the brand began with handbags made from cactus leather sourced in Mexico, which has the look and feel of traditional leather but uses one-fifth of the water needed to produce animal leather. Cactus leather is also long-lasting and partially biodegradable, making it an environmentally friendly alternative. The brand’s ready-to-wear is made from blended cotton and Lyocell, a fiber from eucalyptus trees, which are fast-growing and do not need irrigation or pesticides. The brand also focuses on made-to-order and small batch production, which eliminates waste and excessive production. And as a way of giving back, for every item sold, Santos plants a tree with One Tree Planted.
In 2021, fashion veterans Anna Bakst and Michele Rutigliano created WE-AR4 with the belief that environmental responsibility is an obligation. The co-founders responded to the urgent problem of excessive waste the industry produces, by creating a brand that repurposes excess or unused materials from other brands, in order to reduce the negative impact of unused inventory. Luxury upcycled fabrics and materials are used to create quality garments for the future, at a fraction of the cost that you might pay for the same level of craftsmanship. With a focus on outerwear and handbags, the collection ranges from knitwear to tailoring in order to create a modern, utilitarian wardrobe.