Updated: Apr 18
Consumer interests have been shifting towards sustainability and minimalism, pushing away the previously held obsession with having as many clothes as possible. With more sustainable options being presented every year, it can be hard to distinguish which brands are actually sustainable and which ones are greenwashing. Brands that are universally beloved for their sustainable values often get exposed for hiding poor production practices, making it difficult to trust any large companies. Even turning to small brands can be hard as it’s important to remember that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. The brands on this list are not an alternative to consuming less, however, if you’re looking for a good resource to supplement a gap in your wardrobe, here's a list of clothing brands that are or are striving to be as sustainable and ethical as possible:
CBAAF is an LA-based unisex loungewear brand with an emphasis on sustainable clothing. They manufacture locally giving them more control overproduction. Their clothing is hand-dyed and knit out of recycled cotton remnant material. They also use eco-friendly practices that limit the amount of chemicals and water used during production.
Industry of all Nations is a brand founded on the principle of manufacturing at the source of the raw materials, wherever that may be. They work with manufacturers of all sizes across the world to encourage sustainable production everywhere. They use natural dyes from replenishable plants, which are bound to the clothes through a fermentation process and the remnants of which are composted after production. The brand is unisex and goes up to an XL.
Anima Iris is a luxury bag and accessory brand created by Wilglory. With designs inspired by the cultural diversity of Africa (such as the Ghana Kente and the Bamileke cloth), it offers unique designs in stunning colorways while maintaining its mission of sustainability. Each piece is handcrafted in Dakar, Senegal where all leather and materials are sourced in limited quantities to prevent deadstock. The company implores a zero-waste model throughout all manufacturing so that nothing is wasted.
Co-founded by Kailee McKenzie and Avery Ginsberg, STAATSBALLETT works on providing the most flattering fit while adding details to make the clothing stand out. All garment production is done in L.A. with ethical pay to all employees. The company uses deadstock fabric (textiles that were purchased during mass production by other brands and never used) as well as an organic duck cotton canvas that is sourced in Missouri. All of their items come tagless (which are a source of needless waste) and packaged in 100% post-consumer poly.
Tyler McGillivary's looks are built on the principle of unique elements of design that inspire clothing color and silhouette. All textiles are sourced ethically in Delhi, Hong Kong, and New York with an emphasis on sustainability. All the factories the brand works with are small, allowing for more control and assurance of ethical practices. Their sizing goes up to an XXL.
Naadam began in 2013 and immediately committed themselves to ethical practices and environmental sustainability. The brand is focused on producing the highest-quality cashmere products at an affordable price. Naadam directly works with herders in the Mongolian Gobi Desert to have better control over the sustainability of their manufacturing process.
Founded by Patricia Luiza Blaj, Loud Bodies strives to provide fun designs for people of all sizes while maintaining sustainable and ethical production practices. Some of their pieces give you the option of customization (like choosing if you want pockets or not) and any sizing specifications you might have that aren’t offered on the site, you can get altered for free. While their older pieces are made of synthetic, non-sustainable fabrics, the brand has been pushing for all pieces to be OEKO-TEX 100 certified – down to the printing process. The brand operates out of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and employs two women who oversee all production. What is most impressive about Loud Bodies is that their sizing goes all the way up to 10XL, which is rarely seen from large clothing manufacturers.
BÉYU is a small brand established in Houston that began taking strides to be more sustainable in 2018. It is fully handmade and utilizes repurposed and eco-friendly fabrics. All items are made-to-order, preventing over-production and deadstock.
Decade is the hero denim brand we all needed. Beginning in 2014, the founders saw that there was a severe lack of properly fitting jeans for majority of women. Most brands use an industry-standard fit model and then supplement larger, curvier jean fits by using elastane – a cheap, unsustainable fiber. Decade chose to create 100% recyclable cotton denim jeans that would fit a variety of shapes by utilizing what they call a ratio-fit. All of the perfectly fitting jeans are made by hand at a small factory in Portugal.
SILPHIUM uses vintage materials and natural dyeing agents to create long-lasting garments. It is a one-person operation working out of Brooklyn. Each garment on their site mentions the origin of the material used (such as their Ticking Two Tone Pant which utilizes vintage mattress ticking). Their sizing is unisex and several garments offer a looser style to fit a wider range of sizes.