10 ethical and sustainable fashion brands
How many sustainable fashion brands do you know?
You are what you wear, well that is according to dress scholars Mary Ellen Roach and Joanne Eicher. Style is one of the main ways we send social signals to one another because what we wear shows our identity and who we are.
With this assumption in mind, doesn’t that suggest our beliefs should be reflected in our dressing choices? And if you have certain values, such as sustainability, you might agree with Emma Watson:
“We have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy”
We’d like to start our rundown on 10 ethical and sustainable fashion brands we think are doing a great job, with an app that is focused on helping you discover who’s doing what in terms of sustainability. This is especially important in such a crowded marketplace and often confusing environment.
Good On You
This app is the world-leading source for fashion brands ratings. They pull all the key information together and use expert analysis to give each brand an easy-to-understand score. There’s a bonus of being able to learn everything you need about ethical and sustainable fashion. Good on You are a community of campaigners, fashion professionals, scientists, writers, and developers, all committed to driving change in this sector.
If you have a brand in mind and you’d like to check their CSR before you buy, this is the place to go!
Fair Bazaar is a marketplace that connects mindful shoppers to sustainable products. Beauty, fashion accessories are just some of the categories you’ll find in their store.
Joana Cunha, the founder of Fair Bazaar, began her journey in 2016 after watching the world-renown documentary ‘The True Cost’. Inspiring her to do something about it. Their mission is to empower, educate and inspire a global community of change-makers to impact the world for the better.
Every brand that is part of Fair Bazaar complies with at least two of these criteria: artisan, eco-friendly fair trade, organic, with recycled materials, or vegan.
If you’re looking for some interesting and sustainable products? Then make sure to take a look at The Fair Bazaar and who knows what delights await.
Earth Heir is a Malaysian social enterprise collaborating with a network of over 100 artisans, with a core group of 40 traditional artisans and refugees in Malaysia, who are building sustainable livelihoods for underserved communities. Their product assortment spans from bags to jewelry and apparel.
They have received several certifications among those: fair trade, business for good, plus they partnered with the United Nations Refugee Agency via the MADE51 initiative to support displaced refugee artisans in Malaysia. Indeed an incredible work, that we encourage you to consider supporting.
It takes more than 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of water to produce just one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton, which roughly equals one T-shirt and a pair of jeans, according to WWF.
Citizen Wolf knows this well, and that’s why they have made very precise choices to limit their carbon footprint. They use a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton. Also, 86% of their fabrics are knitted in Melbourne. Every Citizen Wolf Tee is cut and sewn in a state-of-the-art factory in Sydney, which doubles as their retail shop.
They are certified B Corp and Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) certified and this means their staff is paid award wages or better. They’ve also opted-in to the Modern Slavery Act, to start the process of eliminating exploitation throughout all tiers of their supply chain.
In addition to cotton, they also treat Merino wool that is Responsible Wool Standard certified and cruelty-free, sourced only from non-mulesed sheep in central NSW. Learn more about their story and production here.
Rifò’s story started from a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2017, when Rifò’s mission was to combine the circular economy, craftsmanship, and sustainable fashion
The name Rifò comes from the Tuscan dialect and it means redoing.
Rifò produces garments with recyclable materials and through regenerated textile fibers, mainly Global Recycled Standard certified.
Their supply chain is entirely located in the textile district of Prato, within a range of 30 km. Their commitment is to limit fuel consumption, create new job opportunities fairly rewarded, with the certainty of the quality of the products and above all, the ethical nature of the production process.
Beyond enhancing the territory, this strategy allows them to be adaptable and flexible and to see daily the supply chain with their own eyes. This way they can also produce outside the logic of storage, with small quantities and pre-sale.
They also have a collection service project to support a circular economy.
Visit the dedicated section on their website for more info.
The R Collective
The R Collective is a social impact upcycled fashion brand with a mission to create beautiful clothes using waste materials. The brand is born from Redress, the pioneering Hong Kong based charity working since 2007 to reduce waste in fashion.
The team is composed by fashion professionals from design, sourcing, production, marketing, business, and sustainability. They are all working with the collective goal of creating the world’s best sustainable fashion brand that reduces waste and pollution, empowers consumers, and raises funds for the charity Redress.
Their objectives are clear: reducing the estimated 92 million tons of industry textile waste that is created annually, by pairing creativity, courage, and conviction to divert waste from landfills and incineration and into wardrobes.
They collaborate with award-winning sustainable designers from around the world to create unique upcycled collections, which complement the in-house Main Collections.
The Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition run by Redress, provides them access to over 150+ innovative design talents and enables them to activate that transformation, by reusing a broad range of rescued textile waste and building a circular fashion system.
Visit their website to learn more.
Elle Evans Swimwear is based in Melbourne and was built with sustainability at its core.
The team takes a very different approach to design and production than most companies. They decided the better way to manufacture would be to make each product only after someone had purchased it.
The yarn used for their garments is ECONYL®, made from rescued waste, like fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic from landfills and oceans all over the world. That waste is then sorted and cleaned to recover all of the nylon possible. Through a radical regeneration and purification process, the nylon waste is recycled right back to its original quality. A process that is far less environmentally harmful than the production of “virgin” nylon.
They also partner with Healthy Seas Initiative, a project that collects the old fishing nets and other nylon waste from the ocean that becomes the regenerated ECONYL® yarn. 1% of the sales goes to them, to help support the folks who are out there every day protecting and advocating for our seas.
To learn more about Elle Evans Swimwear, visit their website.
Founded in 2000 by Marianne Wakerlin, Solmate Socks was born with the principles that fashion and sustainability go hand-in-hand.
Solmate Socks utilize recycled cotton yarns made from the remnants of production scraps and used clothing to knit their products. While these scraps would normally go into a landfill, Recover’s Upcycling System allows them to turn regular textile waste into quality, upcycled yarns.
They have a partnership with Portland Garment Factory to recycle the scraps that are too small for crafting.
To learn more about Solmate socks, visit their website.
Pala Eyewear is a purpose-driven brand, their core business focused on eyewear. However, it is also founded on the principles of giving back.
For every pair of sunglasses sold, they give back to eye-care programs in Africa, by providing grants to vision centers, dispensaries, and screening programs. To date, thousands of sight-impaired people have had their lives changed and their ability to earn an income enhanced thanks to receiving a pair of prescription glasses.
Pala Eyewear has built a partnership with the NGO Care4basket based in Bolgatanga, Upper East Ghana. The organization works with artisans and weavers from deprived communities, who make traditional woven baskets – and also the cases for Pala Eyewear. They are all handmade by a weaver from one of three rural villages.
Discover them here.
And last but not least…
Patagonia, an outdoor and adventure-wear, has recently launched an innovative initiative to encourage customers to buy secondhand versions of items they are considering getting new. The company is doing this by adding a “buy used” option next to every new product listed on patagonia.com.
The used items come from Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, which has operated for years – first as a pop-up event where people could bring used Patagonia items for repair or exchange, and more recently as a permanent online store, where customers can resell their old goods for cash or store credit and shop for used items.
Patagonia’s CEO Ryan Gellert explained why wearing secondhand clothes is an environmental act:
“Buying a used garment extends its life on average by 2.2 years, which reduces its carbon, waste, and water footprint by 73 percent. From fixing a patch on your favorite jacket to replacing a busted zipper, each of these individual actions could give us a better chance of living on a habitable planet in years to come.”
And that’s a wrap on our top 10 ethical and sustainable fashion brands who are making a difference with the way they do business. We hope this list will be helpful for you to start aligning your fashion choices with what you value most.
If you’d like to source more options, we recommend downloading the Good On You App or simply browsing the B Corp Directory by selecting the Apparel Footwear and Accessories category.
Do let us know in the Work for Impact Community if you have more recommendations.
Do you want to discover more of our 10 series? Check the previous one: 10 Ethical digital tools you might need