Fashion Brands You Can Actually Trust
While “fast fashion” describes clothing that is cheaply made and intended for short-term use, “sustainable” (or “ethical”) fashion is the opposite. It takes into account the full lifecycle of the product — from the design, sourcing, and production processes — and looks at everyone and everything being affected by it, from the environment, to the workers and communities where it’s produced, to the consumers who purchase it. It’s a complex issue and there isn’t one brand that’s currently capable of tackling everything, but right now there are five main
issues being addressed in the fashion industry:
1. Water usage: The demands for fresh water for drinking and agriculture is far surpassing what’s available. Yes, the Earth is covered in water, but most of it is unusable salt water or has been polluted. As a result, some brands are now looking at the supply chains to see how they can cut back on how much water they’re using.
2. Hazardous chemicals: Dyes and finishes from the production processes are dangerous for the workers, plus they get into the community water sources. These chemicals may not affect the consumers, but they’re a problem for the people who make clothing and those who live in areas where it’s produced. Fashion and outdoor brands are now tasked with coming up with new ways to address dyes and finishes for features like wrinkle-resistance and water-repellency.
3. Short lifecycle: Stores are constantly launching new designs and consumers are regularly updating their wardrobes. The biggest goal in sustainable fashion is to buy less and use things longer. To make clothes last, there are platforms for closet-sharing, brands that promote buying used clothing, and simple yet durable styles that you can wear over and over again.
4. Waste: On top of having a short lifecycle, there needs to be a way to create less trash by making products useful again once they’ve run their course. One way is to repair garments (i.e. mending holes in jeans and replacing worn soles of shoes) while another opportunity comes from using recycled materials in apparel.
5. Agriculture: Natural fibers like cotton are often grown using pesticides and treatments that are harmful to the farmers, workers, and wildlife in the area. There are now more options for organic cotton, linen, and other fibers available, which also use less water than the conventional growing methods. Plus, brands are looking at being organic throughout the production process – not just the growing of the crop, which is only the first step.
What are the most sustainable fabrics?
The most sustainable fabric is one that’s previously been used; anything new that has been produced – regardless of what material – has a negative impact on the environment. After that comes fabrics made with recycled material. Most commonly you’ll find polyester made from recycled water bottles. Just make sure you’re looking for specific details, like “100% recycled polyester” (some brands might market it as “made with partially recycled materials” when it’s really only a small portion).
Lastly, fabrics made with sustainable fibers are better than conventional ones, like organic fibers that use less chemicals and water, or Tencel that’s safer for workers and has less waste.
What brands are ethical?
Different brands focus on combating various issues in the fashion industry – some just one, while others are tackling multiple. Read on to learn more about brands we love that are creating the best options for ethical clothing and accessories.
From growing the cotton to dyeing and finishing, it takes over 2,000 gallons of water just to make onepair of jeans. Levi’s focuses on the finishing processes to remove water wherever possible with its Water<Less collection, which it saysuses up to 96% less water to make.
And because Levi’s is such a big player in the denim industry, steps like this can actually have an impact. On top of that, the brand publicly shares its in-depth sustainability commitments throughout the product lifecycle.
For casual closet staples like T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, and more, Alternative Apparel focuses on using organic cotton and recycled materials. The pieces have a worn-in, vintage look that’s timeless so they won’t go in and out of style.
The brand also uses more sustainable packaging and low impact dyes, and it follows strict ethical standards for the factories it sources from. And it’s not just for women: there are also styles for men and kids.
All of the cotton garments from this brand are certified organic by GOTS, so you know the entire manufacturing process follows organic guidelines. They’re also Fair Trade Certified, which looks at ethical factors like wages and working conditions.
The clothes themselves are mostly soft and comfy staples that you can wear every day, but there are also pajamas and underwear so you can opt for organic 24/7. This one also makes clothing for the whole family, including men, kids, and baby.
This brand focuses on ethics and transparency, showing its markup process for each garment and showcasing factories to give an idea of where it sources from. It claims every factory gets audited and scored during the selection process.
There isn’t a clear impact from an environmental perspective, but the styles are good-looking without being super trendy so you can wear them year after year (i.e. you don’t have to buy more and create waste). Everlane sells everything from clothing and outerwear to footwearand accessories, plus styles for men.