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Buzzword or not, sustainable fashion is here to stay — especially after a UN Conference on Trade and Development revealed that the fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting to our environment.
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“[The] constant overproduction, waste creation, and unjust work conditions have become a sad staple of the textile industry,” writes Sardin, a springboard for new responsible products created by leading international brands. According to research by Boston Consulting Group, “Seventy-three percent of the world’s clothing eventually ends up in landfills… and more than $200 billion of unsold stock is sitting on shop floors and in warehouses around the world. Meanwhile, the number of garments produced annually surpassed 100 billion for the first time in 2014, doubling since 2000.”
Those are staggeringly large numbers and many fashion brands are taking steps to lower them. Below, we’ve highlighted 10 sustainable clothing brands — plus fashion picks from each. Read about what these brands are doing to keep their sourcing and production ethical and sustainable.What Are Sustainable Clothing Brands?
Sustainable development is a development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This naturally invokes practices of recycling, biodegradability, focus on sustainable localized production, carbon offset for shipping emissions, efficient water use, a focus on adding skills to workers and green energy use. Sustainable clothing brands find a symbiosis of nature and mankind.
This unfortunately can offer brands the chance to provide lip service to the concept of “going green,” reaping the Essentials Hoodies marketing benefits without truly committing to action. Here is an excellent guide that is useful for navigating our brave new green world of white lies.Do Consumers Care About Sustainable Clothing Brands?
Despite notions that customers are unaware of the issues or too lazy to find alternatives (or simply don’t care), there is evidence to suggest consumers’ hunger for change is beginning to mount. From the same BCG report cited earlier, analysts found that “75% of consumers surveyed by the group view sustainability as extremely or very important.” And consumers have the power to make businesses accountable. According to the report, “50% of consumers say they plan to switch brands in the future if another brand does more to protect the environment and help society than their preferred one.” So yes, demand for sustainable clothing is here.Are Sustainable Clothing Brands Well-Designed?
Christopher Raeburn, famed for his pioneering, sustainable runway designs, argues in conversation with Highsnobiety not “to sell a brand as being sustainable or responsible,” but rather, “it needs to be about good design first.” Here, we emphasize brands that are striving for ethical, sustainable production while simultaneously delivering truly desirable clothes.1. AllBirds
Allbirds is an eco-friendly direct-to-consumer brand that sells apparel and footwear. The brand was founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, who wanted to create sustainably sourced footwear, something that was completely nonexistent. After years of research, Brown, and Zwillinger were able to design a merino fabric made of natural materials to create the Wool Runner sneaker.
Since launching the popular merino wool sneaker in 2016, the footwear brand expanded to apparel, releasing its first-ever sustainable clothing line in 2020. The collection consisted of men’s and women’s essentials like tees, sweatshirts and undergarments.
Our favorite piece from the collection is the R&R Hoodie. Allbirds uses sustainable practices in designing the hoodie using natural materials, including Pima cotton, hemp, Tencel and carbon credits. It has a simple silhouette and denotes its carbon footprint on the bottom of the hoodie. Our Favorite Item: Allbirds R&R Hoodie
Allbirds R&R Hoodie
Buy: Allbirds R&R Hoodie $118.002. Frank and Oak
Canada-based brand Frank and Oak were started in 2012 with a mission to create sustainable clothing for a new generation of creatives, and they’re doing just that. In the last decade, the brand has proved to be a force in the fashion industry, using only sustainable materials and eco-friendly practices in its designs. A few of their practices include utilizing recycled fabrics like nylon, wool and cotton. They also have a history of using biodegradable and cruelty-free fibers in their apparel.
We decided to highlight the Frank and Oak’s Fleece Sweatshirt as it’s cozy and lusciously soft, made from a blend of recycled cotton and polyester. The sweatshirt has a slightly relaxed fit and allows it to be worn alone or as a top layer with a tee underneath. Our Favorite Item: Frank and Oak The Fleece Sweatshirt
Frank and Oak The Fleece Sweatshirt
Buy: Frank and Oak The Fleece Sweatshirt $79.503. Christopher RÆBURN
Christopher Raeburn is a well-known fashion designer who, in 2010, paved the way for the convergence of high fashion and sustainability. His first collection was a reworking of old vintage military stock, which has underpinned his mantra: RÆMADE, RÆDUCED, RÆCYCLED and RÆBURN.
That means reworking surplus materials, minimizing carbon footprint with local manufacturing or simply producing smaller batches; the overarching aim is waste reduction. This vest is produced in recycled polyester ripstop, which is made from recycled PET plastic bottles.Our Favorite Item: RÆBURN Si Quilted Gilet
RÆBURN Si Quilted Gilet
Buy: RÆBURN Si Quilted Gilet $260.004. Everlane
Minimalist style, radical transparency and ethical factories define Everlane. The #KnowYourFactory campaign launched in October 2013 by Everlane has brought transparency to the supply chain, ensuring that labor is fairly paid and the practices used are ethical. In addition, the breakdown of a product’s price is laid bare to the consumer on the website, so they are opting for a more open, honest approach to business.
As for materials, the piece we’ve chosen is a shirt made from organic cotton, making it super soft to the touch with a lightweight construction to keep you cool. Pair with your favorite T-shirt, some black jeans or chinos and a pair of low-top sneakers. Our Favorite Item: The Long Sleeve Summer Shirt
Everlane The Long Sleeve Summer Shirt
Buy: Everlane The Long Sleeve Summer Shirt $75.005. Asket
Less is more and Stockholm-based brand Asket is standing by that with its “The Pursuit of Less” mission. The sustainable clothing brand creates timeless garments designed to last and operates under a zero-waste policy, using only natural materials straight from the farm to production. The brand even has a full-transparency model to inform you of the origins of each garment and its cost to ensure labor is fairly paid.
It can’t get any better than a pair of sustainably sourced denim jeans. The slim-fitting jeans are made of 100% organic cotton farmed in India but were entirely cut and constructed by Asket’s Italian partners. They come in a light-wash blue and pair well with a graphic tee and