Capitalism has brought us much, I’m not even going to dispute that, and neither should you. Regardless, there are things that cannot be unseen or ignored regarding certain practices by those for whom profit comes before anything else, including professional ethics.
The fashion industry is guilty of this. Did you know that the modern production and dying of cotton require so much water than, to pick one example, the Aral Sea of Central Asia which has shrunk to 15% of its size and decreasing as you read this? And let’s not even get started into the working conditions of factories (also known as sweatshops) located in impoverished countries.
This needs to stop. Consumers need to take it upon themselves to demand change. While that might take some time, in the meantime you can renounce ignorance by supporting these ethical clothing brands.
#1 Atelier Tammam
From the inception of her brand Lucy Tamman has adhered to the strictest standards of ethical and sustainable fashion, sourcing materials that meet the highest criteria of organic, ecological and ethical fabrics. Her design and construction is impeccable, with precise tailoring and quality construction.
Lucy lends her expertise to other designers, helping them create their brands on an ethical platform and she has worked to promote organic and ethical production of fabrics from farm to mill. For well over a decade, she has built her business, brand, reputation and outreach on a commitment to creation that respects the earth and all its inhabitants.
#2 Darn Tough Vermont
Darn Tough has the most comfortable socks with colors, patterns, and fits for every lifestyle. They’re made in Vermont from ethically sourced Merino wool. One happy consumer recommended Darn Tough socks stating that “I’m a wool-loving, midwestern vegetarian, so warm, wool socks made from ethically sourced wool are easily one of my favorite things”.
#3 Marc Skid
Marc Skid is a start-up ecommerce underwear brand determined to do things differently. The ethos of the brand was the creator’s belief that brands should be like the people we admire in life: having a strong character, being purposeful and a sense of humor. The brand’s call to action is “Make your Marc on the World.”
#4 The Volte
Not a clothing brand per se, but rather, The Volte is an online peer-to-peer designer rental platform that allows users rent a designer dress for that one-off event. Think of it as the AirBnb of fashion saving the planet from another 14 million tonnes of textiles being thrown away every year in the United States (or 6 tonnes of clothing every 10 minutes in Australia!).
#5 Vivienne Westwood
This British fashion designer doesn’t really need an intro when it comes to ethical brands, seeing as she pretty much started activism within the fashion industry. Using the runway as a platform for change is just the way any conscious consumer likes their wardrobe. If you’re looking for high-end fashion that’s ethically sourced, Westwood is your brand.
This is your go-to brand for ethically sourced leather-wear. SKIIM places a heavy emphasis on ethically sourcing all the materials and components that go into their designs, ensuring that the process minimizes their impact on the environment and those involved in the process. Their collections have that timeless yet modern feel that you can only get from guilt-free leather.
Deso, inspired by the Sierra Nevada, sourced locally and manufactured in US. Deso practices slow fashion, made in small batches at a factory in San Francisco. We create unique, style-driven functional clothing.
Bulk garment manufacturing can often overlook quality in an effort to produce large-scale quantities in a timely manner. Too many overseas factories have awful working conditions and unlivable wages. We opted for domestic manufacturing in order to oversee the product development life cycle and development a genuine relationship with the humans producing our garments.
The quality of our garments comes from experienced sewers that are paid a livable wage and work in healthy conditions right in the heart of San Francisco, CA. We source materials from the most reliable high-end manufacturers in the world whose values and standards align with ours. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and direct our focus towards creating truly unique garments in small enough quantities that you will seldom, if ever, find another person wearing the same piece as you.
Woman-owned and committed to empowering women through substantive and rewarding jobs for passionate knitters in the USA.
Of the earth, committed to sustainability, and *conscious of the environmental impact* of every object they create.
Always the necessity: every piece is designed and forever guaranteed to be a useful and timeless staple.
Jackalo focuses on creating sustainable, durable, organic clothing for active children. The materials for their product are ethically sourced. Their organic cotton is both GOTS and IVN BEST certified. The clothing is designed to last so that parents purchase less of it, creating a smaller environmental impact than other children’s clothing companies.
#10 Jody Tjan
Jody Tjan is a New York City-based fashion designer who has been working in the garment business since 1986. First as a teenager at her parents’ sewing factories in New York City and now for her own fashion brand.
Her eponymous label is a sustainable and ethical fashion brand that focuses on locally sourced and manufactured styles. Her decision to take the dive, after so many years in the industry, was stirred up from her deep love for fashion and what she identified as the industry’s need for more genuine and passionate ethical brands. The brand is praised by customers and tastemakers alike for its ingenious practices that combat waste, like offering made-to-order pieces and exclusive designs made from leftover or discarded materials, without compromising its smart and beautiful style.
#11 Girlfriend Compression Leggings
They are ethical because they use divert waste from oceans and landfills to create their apparel. They have a compression fabric made from water bottles and a lite fabric that is made from fishing nets retrieved from the sea. They also hire minorities and are transparent about their practices on their website. I highly recommend them for anyone looking for slow fashion. They run out of products often and are based of a slow fashion model is great for the environment.
Discourse, an ethical and sustainable womenswear brand based in New York City’s Greenwich Village area. I started Discourse with my wife Jessica (who serves as Creative Director), and we’ve spent the last two years growing the business as a direct-to-consumer platform to provide women with stylish clothes that are also ethical and sustainable. 100% of our clothing is made in New York City using ethical, sweatshop-free labor and sustainable fabrics.
We started Discourse because we were tired of the same basic aesthetic that other sustainable brands have, but wanted to avoid supporting wasteful and exploitative fast fashion brands that churn out low-quality styles. As a result of witnessing fast fashion fill up landfills with styles that didn’t sell within their short season, we only create seasonless capsule collections to give shoppers styles they can wear year-round. Additionally, in the next few weeks we’re launching a line of ultra-sustainable staples made from 100% organic cotton and dyed with byproducts from the food manufacturing process that use 80% fewer chemicals than traditional dyes.
Shayne is a luxury clothing brand designed for the in-betweenie woman, sizing 8 to 18. From design to production, Shayne partners with local New York City experts to create high quality pieces to stand out. Additionally, each piece is designed to fit two or more traditional sizes, with adjustable straps, buttons, or ties to adapt to your body type. Size fluctuates and the company believes our clothing should too.
The recommendations of products and books within this article where sourced from industry experts. Their names and websites are listed below.
Debora Pokallus from Bel Esprit LLC
Melissa from Funky Crunchy Mama
Daniel Barry from Marc Skid
Claire Anderson from N/A
Nate Masterson from NateMasterson
Julie Bacon from Deso
Sally Seck from Sally Jane
Alicia Ward from Flauk
Dalton Primeaux from Jody Tjan
Alexandra Tran from Schimiggy
Alex Wood from Discourse
Samantha Lanman from Shayne