20 Ethical Fashion Brands Challenging the Fast Fashion Market
With an increase in awareness regarding the adverse effects of fashion industry on the environment, many brands are switching towards sustainable practices to lower their footprint
The fashion industry is one of the biggest trendsetters and now it is working on its most recent and most important trend yet, which is sustainability. With the profound and vast environmental impacts of fashion, consumers have become eco-conscious and want to have a positive effect on the environment. Various ethical fashion brands are challenging the reigning fast fashion market by offering eco-friendly, sustainable and vegan options.
Now many people think of ‘sustainable clothing’ as unflattering and scratchy styles, but there is a variety of firms that are providing a brilliant equilibrium of sustainability and sophistication. Besides, there are many shopping trends that are paving the way for planet-friendly practices, whether it is to swap clothes with friends or purchase timeless, transitional pieces.
Ethical or sustainable fashion takes into account the full lifecycle of the product – from sourcing, design, production and consumption – with brands considering everyone and everything is affected by it, from the environment to the workers and communities where it is produced to the consumers who buy it.
While many still choose to ignore their impact on the ecosystem, there are a few brands that are eliminating the five major issues of the industry – water usage, hazardous chemicals, short lifecycle, waste and agricultural exploitation. Here are the top 20 ethical brands that are challenging the fast fashion market and you should be familiar with sustainable clothing choices.
Utilizing organic cotton and recycled materials, Patagonia has become one of the earliest brands to exhibit and implement environmental ethics. The company continues to expand its promise to labor ethics and works with domestic factories as often as it can. Moreover, Patagonia also offers a secondhand collection called Worn Wear and sustainable apparel.
With ethical production and sourcing, and sustainable practices and materials, Levi’s is turning an eco-friendly page with sustainable practices like recyclable denim, ethically sourced cotton and innovations to reduce water use. It has been the face of denim in over 100 nations for so long and given the resource exploitation by jean production that the brand vowed to lessen its footprint and give some of its profits to workers and community organizations alike.
The New York-based firm employs sustainable materials and practices and invests in circular and secondhand initiatives. Eileen Fisher believes in eradicating social and environmental injustices and ensures fair working wages. It also implements a circular system, taking back old garment pieces and making new ones from the cutoffs.
Stella McCartney is a lifelong vegetarian, who uses no leather or fur in her designs, and has been a consistent supporter of animal rights. She is known to bring eco-friendly and vegan materials to the high fashion market. Her products are cruelty-free and highly transparent. McCartney has been creating sustainable dressing for every demographic and from basic to high-end clothing items.
Known for creating premium products in a sustainable way, this men’s clothing brand uses plant-friendly materials with timeless designs. In order to decrease the footprint of their supply chain, Van Harper uses poly bags made from 100 percent biodegradable corn to store products. Moreover, the manufacturing process is sustainable and almost completely solar-powered.
AT least 50 percent of the H&M Conscious products are made from more sustainable materials such as organic cotton or recycled polyester. Moreover, the brand offer styles starting at merely $10, making sustainable fashion affordable. You can also recycle old clothing at H&M stores for a discount to buy something new. According to the parent company, it uses 57 percent recycled or sustainably sourced fibers, with a target to reach 100 percent by 2030.
Polo Ralph Lauren
A big name of the fashion industry, Ralph Lauren is making a simple change by reducing its footprint on the environment. The Earth Polo by Ralph Lauren is made from recycled water bottles and uses dyes that do not require water in the application process. The brand estimates that this simple step can prevent about 170 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfills by 2025.
Lucy & Yak
Lucy & Yak is an ethical and sustainable brand that is dedicated to upholding a positive environment and the social impact of its production process. Made from organic fabrics, each piece of clothing is produced by its factory in north India. The firm pays its workers four times the state minimum wages. The items are shipped off in recyclable and sustainable packaging.
The Toronto-based brand Kotn is known for its usage of organic cotton, safe and fair labor standards, non-toxic dyes and plastic-free packaging. The brand uses Egyptian cotton for ultra-soft fabrics, which has helped impact over 100,000 lives in Egypt by building schools and funding over 2,000 farms. It limits waste and resources by recycling water and materials to reduce environmental impact.
The French brand Sézane uses natural and sustainable materials, recycled packaging and production powered by renewable energy. The brand believes that sustainable production benefits both the people and the planet. Focusing on zero waste production, Sézane also started a philanthropic initiative called DEMAIN (French for tomorrow), to help children access educational and equal opportunities.
Based in San Francisco, Quince is a sustainable fashion label that uses sustainable and organic materials, virgin-free plastic and fair wages. With a goal to bring ethical and eco-friendly designs to the masses at affordable prices, Quince is offering versatile, effortless and fashion-forward basics that are delivered to you in recycled plastic packaging. It also plans to have fully compostable packaging soon.
This LA-based label is known for its usage of organic fabrics, biodegradable and renewable materials and non-toxic dyes. Hass offers a wide range of sustainable clothing – from ribbed sweaters made from renewable alpaca fiber, ultra-breathable modal pajama sets to organic cotton tees. Moreover, every purchase from the certified B Corp feeds one person in need.
Reformation is a California-based brand that uses sustainable and regenerative fabrics, carbon- and water-neutral, and safe working conditions with fair wages. The label offers products from sustainable and upcycled materials while keeping up with the latest trends. Moreover, each item comes with a description of its environmental footprint. It is already a climate-neutral brand, which aims to be climate-positive by 2025.
Sheep Inc. connects its customers back in touch with nature through its knitwear, showing a new way of fashion production that makes clothing a part of the solution, not the problem. It is the world’s first carbon-negative fashion label with a zero-waste, mulesing-free procedure, solar-powered production, biodegradable clothing and complies with the stringent animal welfare standards set by the label and ZQ Merino.
Boyish Jeans is a sustainable women’s denim brand that is founded by former Reformation designer, Jordan Nordarse. The brand offers clothing that is comfortable and accessibly priced. The LA-based label is committed to using ethical and sustainable practices in developing and manufacturing. The jeans are produced with sustainable fabrics with an eco-friendly and cruelty-free process.
To counter the water utilization and pollution caused by jeans, the Netherlands-based brand MUD Jeans aims to create a circular economy within their production and supply chain. It also offers Lease a Jeans system, which allows you to lease a pair of jeans for a year, after which you can either swap it or keep it. Moreover, the brand utilizes recycled materials to lower its footprint.
Tree Tribe is an outdoor lifestyle label that plants ten trees for every sale they make. The brand uses a new pioneering plant-based leaf leather that is employed in handcrafted items. The raw material is sustainably sourced from Teak leaves that are collected after they fall off, without inflicting any harm to the trees. It is a small family business of Thai artisans and skilled tailors, who are zealous about eco-friendly values and the finest crafting.
Brave Gentleman was started by Joshua Katcher, the founder of the ethical blog The Discerning Brute. It is a vegan menswear line that was established in 2015. Most of the clothing is made from organic cotton, Brazilian future-wool tweeds and twills that are made from recycled cotton and recycled polyester and silk linings made from recycled water bottles.
The athleisure and activewear brand Athleta says that 60 percent of its products are made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tancel, with a goal to increase this capacity within a couple of years. It practices ethical production and fair wages. The label is B Corp certified, meaning it fulfills strict social and environmental standards.
The American brand, Girlfriend Collective creates leggings and cycling shorts, each of which starts with 25 post-consumer recycled water bottles collected ad sourced in Taiwan and ends with a spun fabric that is softer and more stable than single-knit jersey. The brand thrives to be as transparent as possible and aims to make every production part as eco-friendly as possible.