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When people are working in unsafe conditions to make your next outfit, you start to wonder when enough is enough. On November 12, 2012, a fire believed to be caused by a short circuit killed 112 workers and injured more than 150 at Tazreen Fashions in Dhaka. Five months later, at least 1,136 people were killed and more than 2,200 wounded with the collapse of the Rana Plaza. With tragedies like these, you begin to think about the true costs behind that outfit you wore last night or maybe the 15 pairs of jeans you own. There are so many hidden costs that we aren’t made aware of when we are consuming.
So what can we do? Well, for starters, we can buy clothing from ethical fashion brands. These companies promote sustainability by reducing their environmental footprint and creating safe working conditions and paying fair wages. With that said, let’s take a look at 20 ethical fashion brands that will make your wardrobe more eco- and human friendly.
People Tree was the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label. What this means is that when you shop at People Tree, it is guaranteed that they are in compliance with the ethical standards of fair trade. Moreover, their workers receive a fair wage and work in good conditions. Along with that, they are dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint by by using low impact dyes. These dyes do not contain azo chemicals that are frequently used in clothes manufacturing. They also use natural materials when they are able to which helps limit any use of plastic.
All about effortless dressing, Amour Vert takes the cake for simple, yet luxurious fashion. Their name means ‘Green Love’ in French which describes them perfectly. They are committed to helping the environment in every way they can. Furthermore, for every tee you buy, they plant a tree and, to date, they have planted over 220,000. About 97% of their products are made in California. This means they are produced in small quantities to ensure they go through the highest production standard and eliminate waste. Their signature fabrics include organic cotton, beechwood blend, OEKO-TEX mulberry silk, tencel, cupro and ethical wool. If you want to buy from a sustainable brand, these are the guys to go to!
This contemporary brand has a variety of chic and smart pieces for every event. What’s really important is that they are dedicated to enforcing good working conditions. They even have a day (every Friday) where they have scheduled tours of the factory and meet the people who made your clothes. Reformation invests in green infrastructure to minimize waste, water and energy footprints. They are energy efficient (100% wind power suppliers and use LED lighting), recycle about 75% of their waste and their packaging is plastic-free. Since 2015, they have also been carbon neutral.
This simplistic brand is a breath of fresh air for anyone who enjoys a touch of sophistication. The three goals of EILEEN FISHER include “practicing business responsibly with absolute regard for human rights, guiding our product and practice toward sustaining our environment and supporting women to be full participants in society.” They plan to reduce carbon by partnering with NativeEnergy and their silk has become bluesign certified. Once it became certified, it reduced water usage by 20%. have also been bluesign certified. Even better, instead of LED lights in their stores, they purchased Renewable Energy Credits for 100% of their electricity consumption.
This outdoor brand has become a leader in becoming Fair Trade and promoting ethical clothing. Along with being corporately responsible, they have a special program where with every Fair Trade purchase, more money is sent back to the factory workers. The money can be allocated as cash, used for a collective social investment (ie. a daycare or healthcare), or both depending on what the workers decide.
This fashionable activewear brand is known for their comfortable clothing. They are a certified B Corporation which means they are legally required to consider how their decisions will ultimately impact their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. By 2020, they plan to have 80% of their products made with sustainable fibers (currently at 60%), 25% of their products made using water-saving techniques (currently at 4%) and have 80% of their waste from shipping packaging be diverted from landfills (currently at 60%).
This sustainable swim and activewear brand is a perfect place to get your next swimsuit for the warm months. The process of creating a bathing suit starts by rescuing waste (like fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring and industrial plastic) from landfills and oceans. It is then cleaned and sorted to recover all the nylon which is then regenerated and purified, back to its original form. The marine life actually benefits from the products being made. They also take a different approach to production compared to most companies. Instead of mass production, they manufacture each swimsuit, sports bra and legging only after someone has bought it.
This minimalistic brand is perfect for spending a full day in some pj’s that you know are made from 100% organic cotton. They are a part of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which guarantees their cotton is sourced from the farms that use no toxins. They are also proud supporters of the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity that protects threatened habitats that are at risk. Whenever you make a purchase with Noctu, you will save 10sm of endangered land and create nature reserves to protect threatened habitats and wildlife.
Epoque Evolution is dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint and improving working conditions by only doing business with mills and factories that are committed to ethical practices Along with that, they use sustainable, organic, upcycled, deadstock and post-consumer waste recycled fibers when available. The fabrics they do use do not require dry cleaning or any other toxic care.
This relaxed brand is aware of their environmental impact and, therefore, uses organic cotton, low impact dyes, post-consumer recycled polyester and eco-friendly packaging. Around 1.8 million plastic bottles that are recycled annually are used in their Alternative Eco fabrics. With their eco-friendly packaging, 2,100 trees, 400 cubic yards of landfill 860k gallons of water and 120 tons of CO2 are conserved every year. Not only have they taken steps towards helping the environment, but they also ensure that the working conditions are safe and clean. Overall, they are doing their part and plan to join the Fashion Revolution.
This yoga, travel and adventure inspired brand is a must to shop at if you are or want to be environmentally conscious. They are Fair Trade Certified which means they must follow strict guidelines and are monitored for any unethical practices. Along with that, they work with bluesign to ensure sustainable textile production by managing harmful substances. Clothing is made with 100% organic cotton plus recycled wool which removes any impacts on the animals. They also have Responsible Down Standard (RDS) Certified down; moreover, the birds are treated respectively and free of cruelty.
This timeless brand prefers to produce pieces you will wear for decades to come rather than focusing on trends. Everlane is completely transparent about their prices and actually show the price breakdown behind the true costs of their products. Along with their transparency, they are strict when it comes to working with mills and factories that promote ethical operations.
This laidback brand is all about comfy and soft outerwear that is created from 100% organic cotton. They are Fair Trade certified which means the working conditions are great and comes to show how invested they are in promoting ethical practices. PACT also does not use toxic dyes or pesticides.
This eco-friendly brand is all about doing its part in regards to removing trash from the environment. Furthemore, for every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways. In all, they have removed 1,638,501 pounds of trash as of now. You can even join them on one of their cleanups and help out or you can try getting a job with them since they offer paid time-off for community service. They also must meet the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency since they are a certified B-Corporation.
This casual brand is perfect for anyone who enjoys being comfy, yet stylish. The cotton they use is also known as “white gold” and is sourced from only one place: the Nile Delta in Egypt. They work directly with the cotton farming families in Egypt and make their own fabrics from the raw cotton. A fair wage is given to these farmers which secures their craft and supports their livelihood. The farmers are currently learning how to farm organically and, in the next five years, Kotn plans to have 100% of their cotton be certified organic.
This classic brand features many popular styles that look great with a number of outfits. They follow ethical guidelines which means all their producers receive fair trade wages, healthcare and safe working conditions. Nisolo asks their customers to send in their worn and used shoes, so they can donate them to Soles4Souls. About 85% of their clothing and shoes can be recycled and reused, yet 99% ends up in landfills. Furthermore, they would rather you send them in instead of adding them to the garbage collection.