Taking your first strides towards building a more sustainable wardrobe can feel a little overwhelming. We know that sustainable fashion is the future, but we also know that educating ourselves on the topic of sustainable fashion can be dizzying. You can’t, and likely won’t, become an expert in a day, however, there are a few simple steps that can help you navigate the sustainable fashion sector. Asking questions—like how a garment is made, the materials it’s made with, and who and what is impacted in the manufacturing process—is a great start.
Sustainability is an ever-evolving topic, but these brands are dedicating themselves to fully green practices, with sustainably sourced materials; ethical labor practices; a minimal carbon footprint; and a plan to minimize their dead stock or unused fabrics. While the most sustainable garments will be those you already own (reduce, reuse, recycle!) —we urge you to slow down and really think about what went into your next purchase. Now, keep scrolling to discover the brands that are helping make fashion a greener place.
Since 2001, Stella McCartney has been committed to sustainable practices and has adapted her brand to an ever-changing landscape of sustainable fashion. In 2008 the brand began using organic cotton; in 2012 the brand joined the Ethical Trading Initiative; and in 2016 it created a 100 percent sustainable viscose. In order to measure the impact of its business, the brand utilizes The Environmental Profit & Loss, a measurement tool for sustainable luxury.
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Upcycling Design Studio, LOTI, is based between Lima, Peru, and Los Angeles. They work with a small team of Peruvian artisans to divert materials from landfills by transforming them into garments. The brand only uses natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk; it also utilizes a pre-order model, where production begins after purchase, guaranteeing there is zero waste from overproduction.
“The aim is to design and manufacture our clothes with greater care, reduce our impact, and generate awareness,” says designer Mara Hoffman. Her eponymous brand is renowned for its vibrant color palette and feminine-focused designs. Its commitment to more sustainable and responsible practices goes back to 2015, and the brand now prioritizes natural, organic, and recycled materials and transparent manufacturing, with many of the brand’s ready-to-wear pieces manufactured between New York and Los Angeles.
Soluna Collective is a women-led company focused on using natural fabrics, low-impact or natural dyes, and ethical handmade garments in collaboration with Five P Venture, a company that helps local Indian handloom artists find work. Soluna Collective only uses low-impact dyes that are GOTS-certified and OEKO-TEX-certified.
Christy Dawn’s farm-to-closet brand is dedicated to living and working in harmony with nature through regenerative sourcing. Garments are primarily made in Los Angeles using dead stock fabrics and discarded fabrics left by other companies, as well as regenerative cotton from the brand’s farming efforts in India.
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The Aliya Wanek brand represents the physical exploration of the relationship between identity and style. Aliya Wanek’s production is a balance of handmade pieces and garments made locally by a family-owned factory in the San Francisco Bay Area. All pieces are made from naturally occurring fabrics, from silk to organic cotton to hemp.
Bassike, an Australian-based brand, has values centered in respect for their community, local industry, and the planet. Over 95 percent of the brand’s garments are made in Australia, which reduces their carbon footprint and boosts local manufacturing efforts. Garments are made with GOTS-certified organic and BCI or Better Cotton. Bassike has also been certified carbon neutral by Climate Active, a partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action.
New Zealand-native Maggie Marilyn marries elegantly youthful designs and conscious practices, all the while abiding by its three core values; people, planet, and prosperity. The brand has a transparent value chain (tracking its manufacturers, textile sources, and suppliers), and was certified Carbon Zero in 2020.
CALMO is a female-founded brand with a 90 percent female workforce. With pieces handmade in Uruguay, CALMO partners with local artisans who specialize in natural dyeing processes using leaves and flowers, wool felting, hand printing, and carpentry. CALMO has adopted a zero-waste policy and uses each textile in its entirely.
MATE The Label
MATE the Label provides closet essentials made of organic and natural fabrics colored by non-toxic dyes—all manufactured ethically in Los Angeles. MATE is climate-neutral certified, with the cotton grown and spun in India and then shipped to LA, where all pieces are produced within a 17-mile radius from the brand’s headquarters.
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Zero-waste label Bastet Noir tailors each garment from dead stock materials that have been discarded by other fashion companies in their local community. Pieces are produced in North Macedonia by a community of single-parent, female artisans. The brand has recently set up The Women Fund, where seamstresses are provided financial relief due to the impact of the Pandemic.
Brooklyn-born brand Ooshie offers vibrant, feminine resort wear. All pieces are made to ensure there’s no overproduction and limited waste. All of the brand’s unique prints are hand-drawn, then digitally printed, to cut back on ink and water usage. “Sustainability… is a process and we are just at the beginning,” says Ooshie.
Bondi Born is an Australian-owned B Corporation that produces its swimwear and resort wear locally in Sydney, all by female-owned and operated manufacturers. Bondi Born is currently working towards carbon-neutral status under the guidance of Climate Neutral and all fabrics used by the brand are Standard 100 OEKO-TEX certified, meaning it has been tested for any trace of harmful substances.
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Ahluwalia, a mosaic of designer Priya Ahluwalia’s Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots, is dedicated to transforming the surplus of existing clothing and post-consumer fabrics into new garments, diverting them from landfills. Many of the brand’s pieces are one-of-a-kind, made in female-owned factories.
Norway-based brand Envelope 1976 has left the structure of traditional clothing seasons behind. The conscious brand designs classic and timeless pieces out of natural and recycled fibers that are renewable, biodegradable, and long-lasting.
Cordera creates timeless, minimalist designs that are ethically crafted in Galicia, Spain. The garments are produced using natural and recycled synthetic fibers and upcycled yarns. Cordera doesn’t follow traditional fashion seasons either, encouraging the wearing of pieces year-round and for seasons to come.
Recently certified B Corporation Chloé is committed to transforming its operations in order to become more socially and environmentally sustainable, alongside greater transparency and accountability. The brand’s 2022 objectives include the use of lower impact materials in ready-to-wear, reducing emissions, and increasing their fair-trade sourcing. In 2019, Chloé initiated a 3-year partnership with UNICEF, GIRLS FORWARD, to provide young girls with education, entrepreneurship, and training programs to help them advance in the workplace.
Melbourne-based label Permanent Vacation produces all of its garments—from designing to dispatch—within 10 or so miles from its headquarters. Each collection works outside of fashion’s traditional timeline, allowing the brand to use a slower approach to the production of their pieces. Permanent Vacation uses Melbourne-made jersey fabrics and dead stock fabrics and offers to repair purchased pieces through local tailors for longer wear.
Brooklyn-based designer Lauren Manoogian offers modern wardrobe essentials that incorporate natural textural narratives. The designer works with naturally derived materials and ethical handcrafted production practices. The Alpaca knitwear pieces are hand-loomed by artisans in Peru while other pieces are made in New York.
Canada-based slow fashion brand Harly Jae designs vintage-inspired womenswear that is locally manufactured in Vancouver, British Columbia. All pieces are made from 100 percent natural fabrics like linen, hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton, and hold a neutral color palette to encourage longevity and trans seasonal wear. “Harly Jae’s feminine and vintage-inspired designs were born from a desire to bring change to the fashion industry. By carefully selecting our fabrics and working with a local manufacturer in Vancouver, BC., we create conscious pieces that we hope you will cherish for years to come,” says the brand.
Apiece Apart creates pieces that can adapt to the versatility of life. For each collection, natural, organic, and biodegradable fabrics and fibers are utilized as much as possible. The brand looks at the origin of fibers used and takes into account the distance to their factories in India, China, Peru, Turkey, and the US in order to reduce carbon emissions. The use of digital printing colors and patterns has reduced the brand’s use of synthetic dyes. By the end of 2022, the brand aims to have 75 percent of their fabrics as organic or environmentally responsible. By 2025, Apiece Apart will present a fully transparent supply chain from seed to farm to factory to consumer.
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DaCosta Verde is a Brazilian women-founded and -led business that is determined to eradicate the environmental disruption caused by value chains. The brand collaborates with S.O.S Amazonia to donate trees to the Amazon rainforest. They donated over 264 trees in 2020 alone. DaCosta Verde also partners with sustainable mills in Brazil to ensure the use of internationally certified fibers and fabrics. By 2023, DaCosta Verde is committed to releasing an annual sustainability impact report that demonstrates the impact of each product produced.
Certified B Corporation KOTN holds the fourth-highest B Impact score of all apparel brands in North America. The brand focuses on biodegradable and natural fabrics and only uses OEKO-TEX non-toxic certified dyes to color its garments. The brand works directly with the farming communities in Egypt and partners with a local NGO to reinvest their proceeds into the education systems. Currently, KOTN has had a hand in building7 schools and funding 10 others.
Designer Sruti Dalmia partners with weavers and craftsmen from North-East India and South-East Asia; while 70 percent of the workforce are women weavers from remote villages. The brand has collaborated with two upcycling centers in India. The fabric waste is reintroduced into future collections as new yarn, to promote lower waste. Sruti Dalmia often works under the pre-order model that significantly reduces overproduction.
Art of Simplicity
Art of Simplicity is a small brand that collaborates with a Balinese community to create ethically produced garments. All pieces are made of natural fabrics, cotton, linen, and silk. Plus, 10 percent of the profits are given back to the local community.
Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese
Hope for Flowers was built on the idea that when one knows better, they do better. Designer Tracy Reese uses organic cotton, linens, Cupro (regenerated cellulose fabric), and Tencel Lyocell. To offset its carbon emissions, the brand donates products to organic waste organization Detroit Dirt. Hope for Flowers offers free Art Enrichment Programs to adults and children to encourage engagement in art and sustainability. Tracy Reese states, “It’s about slowing things down, not over-producing, delivering products closer to need and not having to be present in every category of fashion.”
Orejas embraces high-quality wardrobe essentials for everyday that are easy to wear and have a low environmental impact. The brand prioritizes natural and biodegradable fibers; GOTS-certified organic cotton, and hemp. All Orejas garments are ethically made in China in factories that employ workers from the local area and pay a salary higher than the local minimum wage. Orejas is currently working on finding a way to own responsibility for their garment’s end-of-life.
Esse The Label
Esse The Label aims to inspire consumers to consider the garments’ purpose and life cycle. The brand releases season-less styles in small capsule collections, that only include garments made of organic, renewable, and biodegradable fiber including GOTS-certified organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell, and OEKO-TEX-certified linen. When choosing a fabric, the brand’s criteria considers water use, land use, eco-toxicity, human toxicity, and greenhouse gas emissions. All garments are produced ethically between three workshops in Vietnam and Indonesia, with each workshop having no more than five employees. The brand upholds a long-term partnership with conservation organization Trees That Count, which plants native trees across New Zealand.
Selva Negra is committed to celebrating individuality through unique, conceptually expressive designs. All pieces are ethically produced with sustainably sourced materials. The brand collaborates with family-owned factories in Downtown Los Angeles to produce its collections. Over 50 percent of Selva Negra’s textiles are sourced in the United States with other natural fibers imported from Japan and Turkey. The brand create new collections by repurposing former season’s textiles and sends scrap fabrics to Marimole recycling, where they are turned into yarns.
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Attire The Studio
Attire The Studio was launched in 2019 by influencer Xenia Adont, whose mission is to set a new standard in transparency and sustainability in fashion. Fabrics are sourced from Italy and Portugal, and include GOTS-certified organic cotton, GOTS-certified or Woolmark wool, Seri. co-certified silk, Cupro (regenerated cellulose fabric), and Tencel Lyocell. Manufacturing takes place between Italy and Portugal in family-owned factories. Attire also sources fabric and manufacturers their garments within the same country, lowering their carbon footprint.
Back Beat Co.
Back Beat Co. embodies the California cool of a laid-back lifestyle. Manufactured in family-run workshops between India and Los Angeles, the brand focuses on using the low impact fabrics of recycled cotton, hemp, GOTS-certified organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell, and dead stock. Their packaging consists of recycled paper mailers, recycled plastic poly bags, and home compostable bags. Recently the brand partnered with Cleacult to design a sustainability-focused capsule collection that supports Foundation for Puerto Rico.
Filippa K embodies the minimalist, ’90s aesthetic, and is also a brand that’s actively working towards more sustainable practices. In 2019, the brand partnered with a Swedish sheep farm to ensure the wool byproduct of the local meat industry was being repurposed. In 2020, the brand began reducing the number of garments they were producing and began focusing on its non-seasonal Core Collection. In 2030, Filipa K aims to have 100 percent of its fabrics organic or recycled and currently offers a pre-owned platform where customers can buy and sell pre-owned garments.
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Collectiva Concepción is a socially responsible Mexico-based luxury brand that exists to support and employ at-risk, women-led indigenous communities. With over 40 communities in its network, Collectiva Concepción provides the sole source of financial security to many of their artisans. Each piece is handmade, and created using natural fabrics, chemical-free dyes, and traditional Mexican embroidery techniques.
Milo + Nicki
Milo + Nicki is dedicated to creating garments that leave little to no footprint. The brand stands for conscious consumption, quality over quantity, and doing more with less. Each Milo + Nicki piece is either ethically made in New York City, by a small family-owned factory, or in India using a factory that equips women from low-income communities. The brand only incorporates three fabrics choices into their garments, including linen, GOTS-certified organic cotton, and banana fabric (a biodegradable fabric made from the banana plant).
Two Days Off
Two Days Off is woman-owned and, since 2020, carbon neutral. The brand uses only natural fibers or locally sourced deadstock materials and each piece is ethically made in small batches in Los Angeles. Two Days Off contributes to decarbonization projects around the world, from battling deforestation in Papua New Guinea to developing wind turbines in Northern India.
Valani’s feminine pieces are either handmade in Chicago or produced at a GOTS-certified factory in India. The brand only utilizes naturally derived fabrics, hemp, Tencel Lyocell, banana fabric, and OEKO-TEX-certified low impact dyes. For each garment purchase Valani plants one tree in partnership with One Tree Planted.
Ngali was founded to showcase traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork through Australian-made clothing. The brand gives back to its community by increasing financial security through artist royalties and building literacy and IT skills within children in remote regions of Australia using computer education and digital training skills.
All Lemlem pieces are ethically made in artisanal workshops in Ethiopia and small factories in Kenya and Morocco. To preserve traditional African weaving, while creating job opportunities for local artisans, each piece is made from hand. The brand cotton is locally sourced in Africa, with 50 percent of it being organic. Any excess fabric is repurposed into accessories or donated to sewing schools.
Established in Mexico, Armando Takeda collaborates with artisans across the country to showcase handicraft traditions. The brand learns the traditional techniques and then, with permission, interweaves these techniques into their own collections. Each piece is handmade in Mexico City in limited quantities. Armando Takeda ensures each artisan is celebrated for their work by including a picture of the artisan, a description of their skill, and a summary of their techniques alongside each garment.
Peru-based brand AYNI aims to honor ancient techniques and cultural heritage while supporting female artisans and their communities. All collections are made by artisans in Peru using traditional methods, including macramé, crochet, needlework, hand-weaving, and hand-loomed textiles. The brand’s fabrication choices include Alpaca fiber, organic Pima cotton, and yarn made from recycled plastic. In 2012, AYNI Certify was established in partnership with Peru’s Ministry of Employment and offers formal weave training to men and women to help them create their own businesses.
Carolina Kleinman’s brand Carolina K supports approximately 300 artisans in remote regions of Latin America. Through their employment, the brand is helping preserve their ancestral techniques that have been passed down for generations. Natural and recycled fibers are prioritized in each collection such as organic cotton, cupro, FSC-certified viscose, linen, recycled polyester, and Econyl. The brand’s handmade styles are created by female artisans in rural areas of Mexico and Peru and take anywhere from 10 to 50 days to finish. Carolina K. has also launched a zero-waste collection.
Chelsea Bravo offers menswear, womenswear, and gender-neutral styles. All pieces are made of natural fabrics, hemp, linen, and organic cotton, while one-of-a kind garments are crafted from repurposed materials. Each collection explores artistic elements through abstract hand painting, hand embroidery, and appliqué.
House of Aama
“House of Aama is a culturally inspired lifestyle brand rooted in the ethos of the African continent and diaspora, ” explains the brand. House of Aama manufactures locally in Los Angeles and utilizes the made-to-order model to ensure supply meets demand, while reducing waste.