Often when people decide to start living a more eco-conscious life, the first step is ditching plastic straws or investing in reusable totes for the grocery store. Now don't get me wrong—both of those choices are good for the planet, but if you want to make an even bigger impact, it might be time to rethink the way you shop for clothes. Eco-friendly clothing brands have come a long way in terms of sustainability and style.
It's no secret that the fashion industry is responsible for vast environmental damage, contributing 10 percent of global carbon emissions. According to Sustain Your Style, it's the largest polluter in the entire world after the oil industry. Far from eco-friendly, the fashion industry produces untreated toxic wastewater that dumps into rivers and oceans, harming aquatic life and humans alike. It also uses 1.5 trillion liters of water every year and is releasing microfibers into the water that eventually end up in your food. Synthetic fibers take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.
- Braden King, Brayden King, the Max McGraw chair of management and the environment at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
To ensure your wardrobe isn't hurting the planet, you've got to think sustainably. But, keep in mind that "sustainability" is a buzzword, and the most eco-friendly options are to buy nothing and use what you have or to shop secondhand.
"I tend to be somewhat pessimistic about sustainable consumerism as a real solution to our environmental problems," says professor and sociologist Brayden King, PhD, the Max McGraw Chair of Management and the Environment at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "The only way that we can actually aggregate consumer choices to make a real dent on our carbon footprint is if nearly everybody makes sustainable consumer choices."
But, we all want new items from time to time. There's an ever-growing list of companies that have made it their mission to create eco-friendly clothing with responsible materials and sustainable practices throughout the entire process, from using solar-powered factories to compostable shipping materials. These are the best brands to find eco-friendly clothing with fashion-forward design.
15 Eco-Friendly Clothing Brands To Shop Right Now
No matter what your denim needs may be—whether it’s jeans, jackets, skirts, or shorts—DL1961 has you covered. The eco-friendly clothing brand puts environmental awareness and sustainability at the forefront by being powered by solar energy and using ethically-sourced cotton and water-efficient botanic fibers. While a typical pair of jeans requires 1,500 gallons of water to produce, the company uses less than 10—then recycles 98 percent of that water with an on-site water recycling plant.
DL1961 prices are around $200, with shorts starting at $129 and a denim jumpsuit available for $279. Pants are sized by waist measurement and available between 23 and 24. Tops and dresses range between XS and XL.
Head out in what feels like buttery-soft pajamas by sporting the clothes from Lezé The Label. They’re made out of recycled fishing nets—and 10 percent of all the trash in the ocean comes from abandoned fishing gear. The fabric is breathable yet structured so you never have to worry about creases or wrinkles.
Sizes range between XS and 3X with prices for single items around $50 to $100 and sets around $180.
Slipping into cashmere is a blissful experience. It’s even better when you know the fabric was made in an ethical and sustainable way. Cashmere is spun from the hair of specific breed of goat and Naadam works directly with its herders to pay them substantially more and while allowing the customer to pay less. They care for the goats, hand-combing their fur and providing veterinary care. Plus, the brand is involved in anti-desertification programs, local nonprofit work, and supplier partnerships committed to ethical and environmental standards.
Prices range from $45 for a cashmere bralette to $450 for a merino cashmere puffer jacket. There’s also a special $75 cashmere sweater. Sizes start at XXS and go up to either 2X or 3X.
You won’t find cozier cotton products than Pact’s. The company only sources 100 percent organic cotton that’s just as soft as it is good for the planet. That means there are no toxic dyes or pesticides in your clothes, whether you’re rocking a bralette and undies or a pair of leggings and sweatshirt. With each item, you can see how much water was saved in production by using organic cotton and how many pounds of carbon is offset.
All items are under $100, with tank tops available for $20 and jumpsuits available for $90. Sizes for all items are between XS and 2X
Quince is the place to go for affordable yet gorgeous staples made from fabrics like linen, silk, and cashmere that are sustainably produced when possible. You can also get fine jewelry, leather bags, and accessories. The designs are simple and classic, made to be worn for years to come. It also partners with factories that pay workers fairly and produce in a way that reduces damage to the environment. Items are shipped directly from the factory to the consumer, reducing the carbon footprint of each item. Items arrive in as little packaging as possible and they’re working to make all packaging compostable by the end of 2022.
Average pricing for garments is under $100, with linen tops available for $30 and cashmere hoodies for $99. Sizes go from XS to XL.
United By Blue is on a mission. The certified B-Corp has all the outdoor apparel you could ever need, yet it produces it in a way that protects the planet you’re exploring while wearing it. Every product is created using responsible materials, including organic cotton and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. The company also removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold. So far, that’s equated to more than 4.1 million pounds.
Prices range from $40 tee shirts to $186 coveralls. Sizes are available in XS to XL or 0 to 14, depending on the item.
The fashion industry creates a ton of waste. The industry average is for brands to sell between 60 and 70 percent of the clothes they produce. Cuyuna produces in small batches and sells 90 percent. Each of the brand’s suppliers are committed to a high degree of ethical conduct and environmental responsibility. Finally, 99 percent of its items are made from sustainably certified materials and 100 percent of its apparel and home items are made from sustainably made materials.
Clothes start around $40 for pajamas and tee shirts and go up to $350 for cashmere jackets. Sizing goes from XS to XL.
Almost all activewear is made from plastic. Girlfriend Collective does this sustainably by using recycled materials like post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets retrieved from the seas, fabric scraps, and other waste. Its recycling and sewing partners are verified by third parties and have certifications to ensure that they pay fair wages and have safe and healthy conditions. All of the factories we work with are verified by third parties and have certifications.
Underwear and socks are under $20 and bras, tops, and bike shorts are between $40 and $50. Leggings and pants are between $70 and $80, and dresses are between $80 and $100. Sizing rages between XS and 6X.
In Common makes underwear and loungewear you can feel good about. The items are modern and comfy so you’ll want to keep wearing them and they’re created with sustainable fabrics by employees who are paid a fair wage. Each of their garments is packed in a bag that’s made from corn and is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.
Underwear is $12, bras are $45, and tops are $25. Pants range between $45 and $65. Bonus: There are plenty of bundle options for each to save money when you buy multiple pieces. Sizing is available between XS and XXL.
Gretes founder Grėtė Švegždaitė loved the look and feel of silk but wanted an option that didn’t involve harming any silkworms. So she created a brand of sleep and loungewear that uses Naia, a cellulose fiber made from sustainably sourced wood pulp and has a texture that closely resembles that of silk.
Prices range from $40 to $80 and sizes go from S to XXL.
Ética is Spanish for ethical and the brand does its best to live up to this name. It provides workers with living wages, health benefits, and free meals. Recycles its factory water to feed local farmland throughout the Puebla, Mexico region, which is where its factory is located. Clothes are made from cotton as well as Alternative fibers like Tencel and Refibra, cellulose fibers sourced from renewable wood sources, without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation, or genetic manipulation.
Prices range from $60 for tees to around $200 for jumpsuits and dresses. Sizes range from XS to L or 24 to 32, depending on the item.
The next time you need to stock up on all your basics, head over to Alternative Apparel. All of the brand’s cozy tees, dresses, and sweats are crafted with organic and recycled materials, low-impact dyes, and water-conserving washes. The company also ships out the products in eco-friendly packaging that saves 2,100 trees, 860,000 gallons of water, and 400 cubic yards of landfill every year.
Items are priced in the $30-to-$60 range and available in sizes XS to XXL.
Threads 4 Thought wants to be as sustainable, ethical, and impactful as possible. The company’s eco-friendly clothing, which including T-shirts and activewear, is made from organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Lenzing Modal (which comes from beechwood). On top of that, the factories everything is made in has sustainable production processes and working conditions held to the highest certifications in the fashion industry.
Most items like tees, hoodies, and leggings cost between $25 and $80. Jeans and sneakers are between $100 and $190.
With a name that means “green love” in French, Amour Vert was built with sustainability in mind. Not only are the pieces made in small batches to eliminate waste, but the fabrics used in the process are made from eco-friendly materials like beechwood fibers, organic cotton, Oeko-Tex certified silk, and Tencel (which is made from eucalyptus trees). Plus, when you buy a T-shirt, the company will plant a tree in North America—a promise the company has made good on at least 220,000 times.
Most items, like shirts, skirts, and pants, are priced between $50 and $200. Certain items like silk dresses creep into the $200s while leather shoes and jackets are around $400. Sizes are between XS and XL.
People Tree is one of the original eco-friendly clothing brands. Since launching in 1991, every product has been made as ethically and sustainably as possible, allowing people to shop contemporary items made with organic cotton, low-impact dyes, Tencel Lyocell, and responsible wool, all created using traditional artisan skills. Because of these practices, it was the first fashion company to receive the World Fair Trade Organization product label.
Socks and undies range between $10 and $20, with other garments ranging between $50 and $100. Sizes are unique, ranging from 8 (small) to 14 (large).
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