According to Waste Advantage Magazine, fast fashion is defined as, “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends”. There’s no question that fast fashion is contributing to the decline of our environment- a Forbes article cited fast fashion as being the second most industrial and fresh water polluter and makes up 10% of carbon emissions. Big yikes.
There are so many factors that makes a company sustainable, including use of recyclable fabrics, partnerships with carbon offset programs, participation in environmental cleanup, non-polluting practices, safe work-places, and cruelty-free fabrics (the list goes on…). Of course, simply not shopping and making do with what is already in your closet is the best way to combat this problem, and thrift shopping is second best, but there are definitely times when you might desire some new pieces. I get it.
I’ve done my best to compile a list of sustainable and environmentally responsible brands to check out the next time you’re in the market for something new.
Products are 92% up-cycled and they are working towards 100%. Tala was founded by Influencer Grace Beverly. Influencer peers, take note on this sustainable “merch”!!
Softwear uses sustainable fabrics and Brooklyn-based manufacturing. I’ve gotten to know the owner and she is AMAZING- gracious, funny, smart, and forward-thinking.
Girlfriend Collective is a relatively affordable activewear line (leggings are $68) made from recycled plastics. A subscriber said they are just as- if not more- comfortable than Lululemon, and the product designs are beautiful!
A tad pricey, but their pieces are really beautiful and their transparency on sustainability practices is admirable (I hope other brands take note!). I think I need a Margot Skirt…..
If you get a chance to check out one of their stores, I urge you to do so- their shopping experience is very futuristic and fun.
Read more on their sustainability framework report.
Think Zara, but sustainable (the website design is even reminiscent of the Fast-Fashion giant, as are the styles and prices). This is a great place to go for basics, and their spring collection is killer.
“Organic, recycled, and fair trade textiles”. Check out Thinking Mu if you’re a fan of graphic tees/ patterned tees. Prices are fair and their pieces are fun.
Learn more about their “TRASH” initiative here. Pretty cool.
Matt & Nat
They are best known for their vegan handbags, but they also have shoes, outerwear, luggage, and wallets. Their animal-free bags are also lined with 100% recycled plastic (double-win), and their headquarters in Canada have a vegan party every month which is simply adorable.
From a branding perspective, I really love the tone of this brand, but aesthetics and branding aside, this female-owned company sells really well thought-out and environmentally responsible bags. Great accessory if you’re entering the workforce!
Rothy’s has paved the way for sustainable footwear in recent years. The shoes are knit with 100% recycled products and they have already used more than 50,000,000 bottles collected from marine environments within 30 miles of coastline and marine ecosystems. They come in a handful of styles and are very comfortable, but I suggest sizing up!
They recently also launched a bag collection in fun colors and prints.
Nothing New is a take on the classic Converse-style shoe, but done sustainably. 5.6 Water bottles and 160 gallons of water are saved for each shoe made (compared to typical sneaker construction), and the company is carbon neutral, meaning they offset the carbon used to ship the products by partnering with reforestation, wind-farm, and biofuel projects.
Comes in multiple colors, styles, and available in Men’s and Women’s.
Brands that claim to be sustainable…
…. yet don’t share exactly how they are sustainable. I don’t doubt their word, but I can’t quite explain exactly why you should be shopping there. Anyways, here they are:
James Street Co (Women’s and beanies)
& Other Stories(I’m a big fan)
H&M (happy surprise… yay!)
Boden (Men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothes)
Cuyana (bags and cashmere)
Brands you should *really* try to avoid:
Zara, Forever 21, Boohoo, Uniqlo, Primark, Victoria’s Secret, Romwe, Shein, PrettyLittleThing, Fashion Nova, Nasty Gal, …
We are all guilty of shopping at these stores (I’ll be the first to admit it), but it is so important to educate ourselves about these why we should avoid these brands, love the clothes we already own, and shop from sustainable and ethical companies.
Learn more about fast fashion here, here (this one hurts a bit, but it is an important read), and by watching The True Cost on Netflix.
Bottom line: it’s 2020- if a company doesn’t have a statement about their sustainability practices on their website (which is always relatively easy to find), they are probably not doing their job. Also keep in mind where the product is shipping from since carbon emissions are higher the further the origin is from you.
*This blog post is not sponsored but includes affiliate links.
If you know of any other sustainable/ ethical brands, please share the name of the brand(s) in the comments!!
Stay tuned for a blog post on clothing renting services!
8 thoughts on “Sustainable Fashion Brands (by category)”
Thank you for making this list!! I will definitely refer back to this next time I am online shopping!
While the intent of this post is really admirable(this isn’t meant to sound condescending), I wouldn’t consider most of these brands to be truly sustainable. Sustainability has become such a trendy thing nowadays and most brands just use the word to create buzz. I worked at a VERY popular clothing brand in the operations department and while, yes, the clothes are made mostly in the US and the workers get paid fair wages and they use recycled materials and whatnot it’s not TRULY sustainable. Sadly, what I’ve come to realize is that the only truly sustainable way of consuming is to buy second hand.
So many brands do greenwash, such as plastic bottles being ok for garments when sadly its awful for the environment and the micro particles are even worse, there are brands on the list truly doing things right!
Love this blog post, I will be checking these brands out!! I saw that you said to stay away from Victoria’s Secret. Any recommendations for sustainable bra/underwear companies?
hi Margot! this blog post is awesome!! I love how you made a point to mention that it can be hard not to want new pieces — I’m definitely guilty of that — and that the most effective solution is to not buy new clothing at all. I am currently making a conscious effort not to make any purchases, but when I am looking for something in the future, I will definitely check back to this list for these company recommendations! x
I love this, Margot! Shopping from sustainable brands is such a simple yet important way to refrain from contributing to fast fashion and help the environment.