A lot of you asked for this. Seriously.
I decided to do it for myself also. God knows I need a guide when it comes to shopping. I’ve slowly started to transition into buying more sustainable pieces and it’s a lot of work if you have to go on each website of brands you’ve never heard of, to see what they sell. So, I hope you find this post useful.
I can’t believe how long it took me to put together this post, but I really wanted to do a good job and make it useful to you beautiful soul, who’s trying to be more responsible with how you spend your money. Thank you in advance for checking out this post!
It wasn’t until very recently when I started to be more conscious about who I give my hard earned money to, and when I did my research I found it very hard to have in one place all the brands that are doing a great job with sustainability.
But first, what is ethical/sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion 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, according to GoodHousekeeping.com 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. Up to 2/3 of the sustainability impact of fashion happens at the raw materials stage – before the clothes have actually been made. Fiber selection also affects how you’re gonna wash the garment, and potentially recycle it one day – both important factors to consider when it comes to the environmental impact.
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.
While there aren’t any brands doing things right 100%, I like to think that there’s hope. There are many brands really trying and doing an amazing job with sustainability and us as consumers, have all the power to make a difference and hopefully force fast fashion brands to do a better job or just disappear if they don’t keep up. So without further ado, here are some of the brands out there I really like organized by category to make things easier for you (and myself).
I have tried a few of these, not all of them, but I did an extensive research on them and read a million reviews (that’s why it took me so long to put this post together!). I’m listing and describing my top ones based on quality and prices (I can’t afford to buy super expensive things!), but below each category I’m listing other options for you as well if you want to check them out.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to go out and shop right after you read the post and try to replace everything in your closet. The most impactful thing you can do to be sustainable is to buy less things, followed by buying second hand. This post however, I like to think serves as a guide for WHEN you need to buy something. I only wrote this to help you make better decisions next time you need to go shopping.
Sustainable brands organized by category (luxury brands are listed at the end):
Think about t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, cozy pieces, sweatpants and comfortable basic clothing that we all need and never goes our of style.
- Alternative Apparel: They offer high quality basic pieces at great prices. They offer men and women clothing, and the styles are timeless and classic. Alternative Apparel is very mindful about our planet and their impact on it, so their garments are crafted with sustainable materials & processes, including organic & recycled materials, low-impact dyes & water-conserving washes. They are also super mindful about fair labor practices and eco-friendly packages.
- Everlane: Perhaps the brand that offers the most stylish options at affordable prices. I am obsessed with this brand. They have men and women styles, jeans, sweaters, outerwear, shoes, workwear, accessories… everything! I think they are great at adding little touches to classic pieces to make them stand out and look more modern. Everlane is super transparent about their processes and costs and are advocates for ethical factories. Honestly, I love everything about this brand!
- Pact: A brand that I just recently had the opportunity to try and stole my heart right away! They have so many cute basic pieces, made with organic cotton and they are so cozy, soft and comfortable!! Pact offers basic, affordable for men, women and kids using only organic cotton, fair trade factories and zero harmful chemicals. They are trying to convert fast fashion into ethical fashion by offering ways to recycle those pieces into towels and sheets. I love what they stand for!
Other amazing sustainable brands that offer high quality and cute basics: (if you click on each brand it will take you directly to their website)
For trendy, stylish pieces:
Think about great dresses, nice tops and pants, workwear, chic accessories, etc. I wanted to separate this category from basics because it’s very different and it’s also a little bit more pricey because of the nature of the pieces. Dressy pieces mean a bigger investment.
- Amour Vert: Definitely a great option for dresses, dressy tops, pants and amazing silk pieces. They have men and women clothing, and while their price points are a little bit high, I don’t think they are high enough to include them in the luxury brands section (even though their designs feel very luxurious). Their name means ‘Green Love’ in French, and they work every day to create a healthier planet for future generations. Their commitment is to making sustainable, versatile, and thoughtfully designed clothing that’s good for both you and the planet. For every tee you buy, they plant a tree, they produce limited quantities to eliminate excess waste, only use sustainable fabrics (no pesticides) and organic cotton. I truly love Amour Vert.
- Reformation: Perhaps one of the most well known sustainable brands and for a reason. They offer designs only for women so they understand what we want and how to dress our bodies with pieces that fit and feel right. They have very high standards for the fabrics they use and are super transparent about it on their site too. Reformation invests in green building infrastructure to minimize their waste, water, and energy footprints as well as on their employees. Also, over three-quarters of Reformation’s management team are women or people from underrepresented populations. They are truly amazing and you can learn more about the brand here.
You can shop Reformation here.
- Sézane: This is a super chic French brand that I discovered thanks to a fellow Chicago blogger (@jesskeys_) I really trust her judgement when it comes to high quality clothing and we have similar styles. Sézane has really cute designs and I was pleasantly surprised when I learned how sustainable they are and how much they give back. They work with environmental experts to obtain the most stringent certifications in every sector, identify and test the latest alternative production methods, and they’re committed to innovating and searching for new materials. On top of that, they have a beautiful philanthropic program dedicated to children. Learn more here.
- Everlane: I mentioned Everlane above in the basics category, but they deserve a spot here too! They have super cute dresses, jumpsuits and classic stylish pieces besides jeans, shoes and basics. Browse what they have here.
- Mott & Bow: I got these jeans way before I knew they were a sustainable brand LOL and now of course, I love them even more because of it! Mott & Bow is a family owned business that manages and controls the entire manufacturing process and by being vertically integrated, they can offer better quality, elimination of waste and ultimately better pricing. They are supper affordable, high quality jeans! Check them out here.
- I mentioned it before, but Everlane has great high quality jeans too. You can browse them here. They are very affordable and fit like a glove!
- ABLE and Reformation mentioned above also have high quality sustainable denim. (if you click on the name of each brand, it will take you directly to their jeans section on their site).
- Levi’s: Surprised? So was I! We all know they invented what we call today ‘blue jeans’, but over the past few years they’ve become more sustainable and have taken initiatives to produce denim without using water, they are using better cotton, recycling old denim, improving their workers benefits and lives and using safer chemicals. Not to mention their open support to the LGBT community, artists and local communities. What’s not to love? PS: If you subscribe to their newsletter, you get 25% of your first order!
Other denim brands doing an amazing job with sustainability:
In this category I mean shoes, sandals and sneakers. As you read about each brand you’ll learn about what they offer. I’m also listing additional brands below. There are so many brands doing a great job with sustainable shoes and I didn’t want to extend myself too much because there’s so much to cover on this blog post!
- All Birds: They offer men, women and kids sneakers (they have a couple flat options too!). These shoes are super comfortable! All Birds uses recycled and natural materials to make their shoes and they are super affordable! They are super mindful about the environment, have programs where they donate sneakers to people in need and use recycled packaging too!
- Rothy’s: Since they first started, they had sustainability in mind. To this day, they have used over 40 million water bottles to make their shoes and are getting closer to become a zero waste manufacturing facility. All of their shoes are designed to last using 3D knitting technology and you can literally throw them in the washing machine whenever you need to fresh them up. Rothy’s packaging and shipping processes are also sustainable and their employees all over have amazing health benefits, extra perks and decent living wages. PS: their shoes take a couple of wears to break in, but once they do, you’ll live in them! This is such a great brand to support!!
- Nisolo: A brand I just learned about and their classic designs stole my heart already! Their vision is to help drive the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction and they make beautiful shoes made to last, versatile and with incredibly high quality standards. All producers receive beyond fair trade wages, healthcare, and a healthy working environment. Even though they use leather (which is a by-product of the meat industry), they are committed to only source from ethical tanneries and with eco-friendly waste disposal systems.
- Cariuma: I shared this brand on IG a few months ago, when G was looking into buying new white sneakers and I saw this brand on an IG ad. I can’t recommend it enough!! He loves his sneakers and they are super comfortable. I need to get a pair for myself! Cariuma only sells sneakers (in super cute colors!) and their designs are vegan, they only used natural fair-trade materials, and their shoes are handcrafted. Not only that. Their packages are 100% made out of recycled materials and their shipping methods are 100% carbon neutral. It’s a really amazing brand to support. They are from Brazil and I love that they are doing things differently.
Other sneakers brands doing a great job with sustainability:
- Adidas x Parley
- Reebok Plant based sneakers (Cotton and Corn) I have these and they are SO COMFORTABLE!!
Other brands that offer sustainable shoes, booties and sandals:
- Reformation, mentioned before but they have very cute shoes and booties! You can browse them here.
- ABLE, mentioned before as well, but their shoes are to die for! Browse them here.
- Jenni Kayne
- Everlane, mentioned before but they also have very comfortable and stylish sustainable shoes and booties. You can browse them here.
- Sézane, mentioned before but they deserve a mention here because their shoes are so freaking cute! You can browse their styles here.
For outdoorsy pieces:
Think about jackets, cabin wear and cozy sweaters. These brands encourage you to go outside in style and I love that they practice sustainability. It just makes sense! These are my favorite ones:
- Patagonia: This amazing brand has been around for 40+ years always with our planet in mind. Their criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability. Among the most direct ways they try to limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet. They also sell used clothing (check it out here) and promote recycling your old stuff. You can literally get credit to buy new things with them if you give them your old Patagonia stuff.
- The North Face: Their mission is simple; to provide the best gear for athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration. If you’ve had a North Face item, then you know how durable they are and it’s because they focus on extending the life of their products as much as they can in a sustainable way of course. The majority of their environmental impact comes from fabric processing and product manufacturing, so that’s where they focus on the most. They incorporate recycled materials into their products and take responsibility for their products’ end-of-life through a long-standing commitment to durability and their recycling program. Not only that, they have also successfully engaged their suppliers in efforts to reduce chemicals, water, energy and waste in their mills.
- Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi’s creed, Do Good, touches every aspect of their company. From their giving model to their company culture and sustainable product design, they use their business as a vehicle to make an impact. Cotopaxi takes into account ethics during every phase of a product’s lifecycle—from its design to its manufacture and sale. To ensure that anyone who touches their products is well-treated, they work with suppliers to uphold a rigorous code of conduct. Their products are of course built to last and they have an outstanding customer service.
Learn more about Cotopaxi here and explore their website here.
Other outdoor brands doing a great job with sustainability:
In this section I’m referring to all kinds of accessories, from handbags, to scarves to belts, to sunglasses.
- Cuyana: This brand is also listed below as a luxury brand, but I wanted to include here because they do have beautiful accessories and I don’t think the prices for these are crazy high. It is an investment, but it’s usually the case when it comes to good handbags and accessories.
- Warby Parker: One of my favorite sunglasses! I have a new pair on my Christmas list! You may be wondering, how can sunglasses be sustainable? I wondered the same thing, no worries! What I learned from my research about the sunglass business is that they are heavily overpriced. The eyewear industry is dominated by a single company that has been able to keep prices artificially high while reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options. Warby Parker was started to create an alternative by offering high quality, beautiful designs at a fair price, not to mention their amazing try-on at home service. They also have a strong social mission, by giving away a pair of sunglasses for every pair sold, which I think it’s pretty amazing!
- Nisolo: I mentioned this brand in the sustainable shoes section, but they deserve a mention here because of their amazing accessories.
- Mentioned before, but Everlane is also a great option for accessories. You can browse them here. I swear this is not sponsored by them LOL. (Although I wouldn’t mind if they do sponsor me!)
- ABLE, mentioned before as well, but worth including here again because their handbag collection is super classic and high quality. Check them out here.
- Jenni Kayne, included in different categories within this blog post, they also deserve a mention here because of their cute winter accessories, belts, earrings and bags. Check them out here.
For travel gear.
Think suitcases and backpacks. Even these type of companies are trying to be more sustainable and socially responsible and I love it. Everyone’s on board!
- Everlane: Mentioned many times across this blog post, but they have the cutest backpack and travel bags. Check them out here.
- Patagonia: Also mentioned before in the outdoor category, but Patagonia deserves a mention here, not only because they are an amazing sustainable brand, but because the quality of their travel gear is outstanding. Check them out here.
- Away: One of my favorite brands right now, Away promotes responsible traveling and they have a strong social mission. They believe in leaving the world better than they found it, and they strive to help make a difference through the things they make, their platform and the community they have created. That’s why they partnered with Peace Direct, a nonprofit building peace in areas of conflict around the world. So, every time you buy one of their products you are helping to bring peace into this world. Literally.
- Cotopaxi: Mentioned before in the outdoor category, Cotopaxi deserves a mention here too because they have amazing travel gear as well.
Forget about Victoria Secret. Here are some brands that responsibly made and are very high quality. This category was very hard for me because I’m a loyal VS shopper, but after reading about how horrible their factories are and how bad the chemicals they use are for our bodies, I felt determined to start trying different brands. These are some of the ones I’m really loving right now:
- PACT: mentioned before in the basics category, PACT deserves a mention here as well because they have amazing underwear, bras and socks. All organic cotton and without using any harmful chemicals. Browse their underwear section here.
- Everlane: mentioned many many times before, but Everlane truly has everything on their site. It’s a great one-stop shop if you want to buy anything and everything ethically made. Browse their underwear section here.
- Reformation: Mentioned before as well but they have beautiful underwear and pajamas you should definitely check out. Browse their site here.
- Tommy John: I recently tried this brand, and even though is a little more expensive than what I’m used to paying, the quality makes up for it. Their underwear and bras are so comfortable and well made, that in my opinion is worth paying a little bit more. Check their stuff here.
Bathing suits and cover ups
- Summersalt: They use recycled textiles and ship their products in reusable bags. They make designer swimwear minus the designer price tag. Some of their one piece suits are $95 and are made to last. Summersalt guarantees the most comfortable fit and they have a very innovative sizing chart that will help you find and shop your true size without any hassles.
- Reformation: Mentioned before but adding them here too because their bathing suits are so chic. They have super cute, basic and elegant one pieces and bikinis. You can browse their site here.
- Marine Layer: One of my favorite ethical brands for men and women. Their stuff is so soft and comfortable and their women’s bathing suits might be my favorites after Summersalt. They are big on sustainability and on using recycled materials. They don’t have many designs, but the ones they have are super cute! Check their bathing suits here.
Pajamas, lounge wear and sleepwear.
- Reformation: Mentioned in many categories, but adding them here because they have cute and super soft PJ’s. Check out the cutest PJ’s ever here.
- Summersalt: Mentioned before in the swimwear category, but I just found out they have PJ’s and I’m in big trouble! Browse what they have here.
- Pact: Mentioned before as well, but worth mentioning here and they have very affordable sleepwear. They have basic designs but super cute! Browse some cute PJ’s here.
- Outdoor Voices: They are all about encouraging people to move, have fun and enjoy the outdoors in style. They have men and women active wear and it’s really such a fun brand. Their products are high quality and are made to last. Outdoor Voices makes sure to put people first, so their values are primarily centered on human rights and environmentalism.
- Athleta: This a brand part of the GAP corporation, which to my surprise is taking huge steps towards sustainability and ethical practices. I am a huge fan of Old Navy, GAP & Banana Republic, so that’s great news! They are now a B Corporation, and they’ve been recognized for their progress towards supporting women, improving the quality of their materials, for using water saving techniques in their processes and reducing their packaging waste. They have ambitious goals for 2020 and I’m excited to follow up with what they do. This is a great example for other big brands out there.
- Alternative Apparel: Mentioned before in the basics category, but they have really cute activewear for men and women. Their designs are super basic which I love because you can do mix and match and create a ton of looks! Check them out here.
- Pact: Mentioned before in the basics category as well, but adding them here too because their active wear is very affordable! They have organic and fair trade certified leggings and really cute tops and sweatshirts. Their prices are really good so it’s worth checking out! Browse their website here.
I didn’t really thought of adding this category until I read how damaging and dangerous the mining industry can be. Mining for gold and diamonds is a dirty business and hurts many people, our planet and communities. This is why is so important to be conscious about our jewelry and where it comes from. There are amazing companies making lab made diamonds (my engagement ring is one of them!) that are so beautiful and didn’t hurt anyone in the process. Don’t think it’s going to save you money though LOL but it’s a great way to make sure that no one got hurt along the way. Here are some brands doing a great job making sustainable jewelry:
- ABLE. Mentioned this brand before and adding here again because they have beautiful, sustainable jewelry. Check it out here.
- Ana Luisa NYC: I recently had the opportunity to work with them and see their beautiful designs in person and I was hooked since day 1. They have stunning, high quality, well designed jewelry minus the premium price tag. They use recycled gold and only use sustainable materials. Their founders worked in the luxury jewelry business before starting their own brand making sure they had the same quality at fair pricing. Browse their site here.
- Nisolo: Mentioned before, but they have a small yet very elegant jewelry collection you can check out here. Their prices are very reasonable and I think they have pieces that are so classic and elegant that will las you a lifetime.
- Amour Vert: Mentioned before as well but they have a very cool jewelry collection you can check out here.
By the way, the company that made my engagement ring is called Mia Donna and I can’t recommend them enough!
For sheets, home decor and home linens:
Yes, there are ways to be sustainable with your home too. I’m not saying with absolutely everything, but I like to think that some day this category will have enough options for us to furnish our homes in a more responsible and sustainable way. Here are some brands that are introducing this category and moving towards a greener future in every aspect of our lives:
- Amour Vert: Mentioned before in many categories, but they have a beautiful home collection too. It’s small, but they have really cute , handmade pieces that are worth checking out. Browse them here.
- Pact: Mentioned before, but worth mentioning again because they have organic cotton towels and sheets on their site as well. You can browse here.
These brands are making the most amazing, soft and high quality sheets and home linens in a sustainable way and it makes me so happy! We just ordered a set for our bed because we desperately needed new sheets:
Last but not least, I didn’t want to leave these brands out. Just because I can’t afford them right now, it doesn’t mean that in the future I can maybe splurge a little bit.
- Eileen Fisher: Perhaps the classiest sustainable brand out there, but it comes with a price tag. They only carry women clothing, shoes and accessories, and they offer petite and plus sizing which is not super common in the sustainable fashion world. Eileen Fisher supports women, only uses sustainable fabrics and processes, ethical factories, fair trade, organic fibers… I mean, they truly have it all! I strongly recommend checking out their sale section, because sometimes they have amazing deals! and they offer free shipping.
- Cuyana: I listed Cuyana above in the accessories section, but I’m adding here again because they also offer women’s clothing. Founded on the philosophy of fewer, better pieces, Cuyana encourages customers to purchase fewer but better quality pieces that they will love and treasure for years to come. Their styles are stylish and elegant and they make each piece with integrity and kindness from the highest-quality materials, and created by skilled craftsmen throughout Europe, South America, China, and the United States.
- Jenni Kayne: A chic Californian brand that offers beautiful clothing. Their pieces are super basic, chic and elegant and are made to last. They take great care to build and maintain relationships with fair factories across the globe. Their shoes are always made in Italy, work with a women’s cooperative in Peru for textiles and they produce locally when they can, for example their candles, ceramics, and basic knits are made in Los Angeles. They also help charitable organizations across the globe.
See? I told you this was going to be long! Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below! I really appreciate your feedback. If I missed on a category or a brand please let me know and I’ll add it.
I want to take the opportunity to link to a couple resources I think you’ll find useful:
If you are looking for more new brands and discover products from women-owned business, check out this post about Dough. They are super selective of the brands they feature, so it’s a good resource if you want to be more mindful about the products you buy and who you are supporting.
Also, there’s a really cool website called ‘Good on You’ and I think they also have an app, where you can learn more about sustainable brands. They rate pretty much every brand out there, so make sure to do your research before buying anything. It really makes a difference in this world.
Ok, I think that’s it LOL. Thanks so much for stopping by and thank you for being interested in this subject. This is step one to a better world!!