Confession: I really do NOT enjoy thrifting. Although the most earth-friendly thing you can do when it comes to clothes is wearing what you already have, or buy second hand. And while I do try to love what I already own, sometimes older items in my wardrobe need to be replaced. So when it is time to buy something new, I try my best to support sustainable, ethical, slow fashion brands. I can’t wait to share some of my faves with you in this post!
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Sustainable Fashion 101
First thing’s first…let’s do a crash course in sustainable, slow fashion and why it’s important in the first place. I *highly* recommend that you check out our Positively Green Podcast episode all about it:
Podcast Episode 04: Undressing the Fast Fashion Industry
The episode addresses why choosing eco-friendly options is crucial, what fast fashion means, the amount of waste created, materials used, tips for shopping secondhand, documentaries, and soooooo much more! 👚
Best Natural Fabrics to Look For
When choosing new clothing options, there are lots of natural fibers that are used. Here are some that I look for:
- Organic cotton (most common!)
- Wool 🐑 or Alpaca
If you want to learn more, my friend Marissa from The Greener Girl has an awesome guide that goes in-depth about natural fibers and sustainable options!
What About Recycled Plastic Fabrics?
You might also see recycled polyester or trends like “made from recycled water bottles.” And while I do think it’s great that companies are finding a way to reuse these plastics, ultimately I am making an effort to avoid them now that I’ve learned more. Mainly because this is still creating a demand for plastics, and these clothing items won’t be able to return back to the earth or be reused. Not to mention, they shed microfibers when they are washed. Additionally, I don’t really want to be wearing plastic on my body! ♴
I’m certainly not perfect and do have some pieces that are made from recycled polyester and synthetics. So I have a Cora Ball that I throw in my laundry. It’s a little ball that catches about 26% of microfibers per wash load. I got mine from EarthHero and you can use code BECCA10 for a discount!
Related Blog Post: Your One-Stop-Shop for Zero Waste Swaps: EarthHero
My Fave Sustainable Fashion Brands
Now the fun part! I’ve been on this sustainability journey for the past couple of years and have discovered some amazing brands along the way. You might be surprised at how affordable some of them are too! Here are some of my preferred brands:
[$$$] Based out of Petaluma, California. Indigenous is a certified B Corp that uses natural fibers such as organic cotton, free-range Alpaca, and Tencel. They also incorporate low-impact dyes and even have an undyed collection.
They also have a strong focus on fair trade and craft a supply chain based on the needs of their artisans. Indigenous has styles for men and women and their vibe is definitely more neutral and earthy. I have one of their Alpaca ponchos and it’s sooooo cozy 🦙
[$$] Although the name might sound like it’s for children, it’s not! They have clothing for men, women, and children. Also based out of California, Krochet Kids is a Known Supply brand, which means you can literally go online and find the exact person that made your clothing item and learn more about them! So cool. Their style is casual, comfy, and relaxed. They use natural fabrics such as GOTs certified organic cotton and french terry cotton.
I have a couple of pieces from them, including tops and two jumpsuits. I just got their Hanna Long Sleeve Tee (shown above, left) and it’s extremely soft. My fave is their Sycamore Jumpsuit made of organic french terry cotton, it feels like I’m wearing pajamas!
[$$] Gotta show some love for a local (to me) Wisconsin brand! Their HQ is in Madison. Lev really focuses on empowering women and helping them find clothing to best fit their shape. You can even take a quiz to find out what your shape is.
Lev uses mostly organic cotton and works to provide fair wages for artisan women in New Delhi. Their style is cute, simple, and minimal and I think it’s so cool that they sell scrunchies made with leftover fabric. I have their Baldwin tee! You can use code ORGANICALLYLEV15 for a discount.
[$$$] So I don’t know if I would consider Madewell one of the most sustainable brands out there, but they do have some social responsibility initiatives in place and a Responsible Sourcing program which includes fair trade. I have a pair of their denim shorts and jeans and really love them👖 Not all of their jeans are made of natural materials but the ones I have are made of organic cotton and dyed using shrimp shells.
[$$$] Such a cute brand! They make bras, bralettes, yoga pants, crop tops, tanks, and other women’s apparel and accessories. I love the Gray Tank Crop Top and it’s extremely comfy. Miakoda is an ethical brand that uses sustainable plant fibers such as organic cotton, bamboo, soy, modal (wood pulp), and Lyocell. They also use low impact, eco-friendly dyes.
The fabrics are all made in factories that abide by Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) regulations which essentially means fair wages and a safe environment. All based in New York! Miakoda even uses leftover garments to make things like scrunchies and headbands. All of the packing materials are 100% recycled, too!
[$] I love Pact so much! In fact, they are one of the brands that dominates my wardrobe. They have simple basics for men, women, and kids. They are also my go-to brand for bras, underwear, and socks 🩲
Some of my faves from Pact:
They are based out of Denver and have one of the more affordable price points compared to many sustainable fashion brands. They mainly use GOTs certified organic cotton and are fair trade certified. They also make bedding and bath towels. You can learn more about Pact in my blog post about them!
[$$$] If you’ve seen the True Cost documentary, then you might be familiar with the founder Safia Minney. She is one of the pioneers in the sustainable fashion industry and has super high standards for the clothes they sell. People Tree uses fabrics like GOTs certified organic cotton, Tencel, and responsible wool. They’re dedicated to fair trade, transparency, fair wages, and environmental responsibility.
Their clothing is made for women and they have some really fun prints and styles! But also pieces that are more appropriate for the workplace. You can find dresses, trousers, blouses, underwear, denim, coats, skirts, and more. I have a few shirts from them, like their Cassie Dragonfly Top which is made of Tencel and organic cotton. It’s so lightweight and perfect for summer.
The only downside (if you live in the US) is that they are based in the UK so shipping prices can be steep. But if you happen to catch when they are having sales, it’s worth it!
[$$] Another brand that is a staple in my wardrobe (my husband’s too)! They make clothing for men, women, and kids and are based out of Philadelphia. It definitely has a very outdoorsy, rugged, hiking vibe so it’s not for everyone but I love it and they do have some cuter pieces too.
I also really love their outdoor wear like hats, jackets, and gloves. I wear the Bison Snap Jacket and it’s soooo warm yet lightweight and not bulky.
They use sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, wool, yak fiber, bison hair, and Tencel (note: they do also use recycled polyester in some of their pieces). United by Blue is committed to ethical manufacturing and is a certified B Corp. Plus they give back: each purchase removes a pound of trash from the oceans 🌊 You can read more about United by Blue in this blog post.
What are your favorite fashion brands? I’d love to hear in the comments! And remember, pleaseeeee don’t feel like you have to throw away all your clothes or go on a shopping spree to buy all new organic clothing. You can slowly replace what you own with a few purposeful, mindful pieces!