To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by HarperSage #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by HarperSage
To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by WVN #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by WVN
To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by ABLE #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by ABLE

14 Sustainable & Fair Trade Dresses To Ethically Style Up In


You’re invited to the planet-friendly party of the century and the dress code is simple: sustainable dresses.

There’s a world of fashion-forward fair trade dress brands that promise all style and fewer sustainable faux pas behind that sweetheart neckline.

But before you cat-walk away in a head-turning number, remember using what you have, borrowing, renting, or thrifting is always more sustainable.

Otherwise these ethical dress brands stand out on the sustainability runway.

Like the co-founders of the Lowest Wage Challenge, ABLE who prove that fashion brands can create gorgeous designs without sacrificing the well-being of workers behind them.

While prAna’s selection of affordable sustainable dresses is sporty-inspired and functionally-fun.

For cute ethical dresses in all the colors that pop, Mata Traders‘ entire organic line has been Fair Trade certified for over a decade.

If you want to know how we pirouetted through the options, skip to the bottom of the article.

*This post contains affiliate links

1. ABLE

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by ABLE #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by ABLE

About ABLE

ABLE isn’t just about making fashion forward pieces; they’re about “moving fashion forward”.

Whether you’re seeking sustainable casual dresses in the form of sweatshirt dresses or ethical party dresses, their impressive selection is likely to have something to suit.

You’ll find every cut and color, including A-line, midi, swing, maxi, and body con dresses.

ABLE’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

ABLE’s best sustainable dresses are those made with 100% GOTS organic cotton.

The rest feature various blends of regular cotton, lyocell, modal, spandex, and viscose.

When it comes to the latter two, try to avoid or keep to minimal percentages.

Supply chain & labor practices:

Most dresses are made in India, with a handful from Mexico.

In addition to being one of the first fashion brands to publicly announce their lowest wages (currently $15/hr, by the way), ABLE goes the extra mile when it comes to striving for fair and ethical employment practices.

Employees have access to 100% paid healthcare, ownership in the company, flexible schedule, maternity coverage, and even infertility and adoption assistance.

Green business practices:

ABLE actively reduces manufacturing impact, from using sustainably tanned leather in their sustainable flats and shoes to recycled metal and natural solutions in their sustainable jewelry.

Working on improving their packaging means switching to 100% recyclable and FSC-certified boxes and cloth dust bags instead of poly bags.

Inclusivity:

ABLE’s sizes run XXS-3X with a range of model sizes to match.

Each product description also specifies designs that are friendly for curves, tummies, baby bumps, or breastfeeding.

Through the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team, they strive for inclusivity and racial equality, whether through staffing or by sharing stories from diverse voices on their blog.

Community & charitable giving:

ABLE began by making scarves as a way to provide employment for ex-sex workers in Ethiopia.

They continue this trend by empowering women (especially at-risk women) through gainful employment.

Available: ABLE

2. HARPERSAGE

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by HarperSage #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by HarperSage

About HarperSage

HarperSage’s unapologetically fun and flirty floral-dress designs are some of our favorite sustainable spring dresses.

With a variety of hem and sleeve lengths, you’ll also find sustainable winter dresses to mirror the season change.

And, if you only don dresses on special occasions, hop into one of their sustainable jumpsuits for all-day day-to-day wear.

HarperSage’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

Most dresses of various weights and weaves are 100% cotton, though some designs are a linen/viscose blend or straight viscose.

A variable percentage (currently ~20%) of HarperSage’s materials are dead-stock fabrics that depend on availability.

They source fabric trimmings intentionally from markets near their factory and beautiful deadstock fabrics left behind by other brands from the upper level of their factory.

Supply chain & labor practices:

All ethical dresses are made in woman-owned SEDEX partner factories in Dehli, India, which is also where they source their materials.

They choose partners with similar values that engage in ethical manufacturing practices and vet them by visiting in person.

Green business practices:

HarperSage manufacturers in small batches to prevent fabric waste.

Digitally printed patterns ensure only the exact amount of ink needed is used and it requires less water.

Inclusivity:

HarperSage is woman-owned and operated. The same goes for all the manufacturing partners they choose to work with.

XS-XL sizes are available and custom sizing is available upon request.

Community & charitable giving:

They partner with non-profits on products and special initiatives that raise awareness of human trafficking.

They’ve created buy one, give one products where funds and products were donated to survivors of human trafficking, and most recently they launched The Decal Project, which turns passion for fighting trafficking into true advocacy.

Available: HarperSage

3. PRANA

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by prAna #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by prAna

About prAna

If sporty-spice had to pick a brand from this list, we’d bet this would be it.

prAna combines their expertise in sustainable outdoor clothing and style in creating their range of active-friendly dresses. 

Their fair trade summer dresses and winter dresses alike are comfortable enough for traveling while versatile enough for a summer BBQ kickball game.

Not all are Fair Trade certified sewn though, but you can filter by those that are.

prAna’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

prAna’s sustainable casual dresses use a variety of fabrics like TENCEL™ Lyocell (sourced from responsibly managed forests), modal, and organic cotton.

Some include recycled ethical wool and recycled polyester, though others contain the virgin counterparts of these materials.

Small percentages of spandex or elastane in some styles provide the stretch.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Being a large company, prAna has a huge supply chain. 

And each link in that chain bears a Textile Exchange membership and partner with bluesign® to audit their manufacturers against the use of harmful substances.

prAna opts for fair trade certified factories wherever possible.

Inclusivity: 

Dresses come in sizes XS-XL (or US 1-14/16).

Community & charitable giving: 

 prAna supports Outdoor Outreach, a program designed to help disenfranchised urban youth experience the great outdoors.

Their sponsored athletes get additional support for individual charitable endeavors.

Available: prAna

4. WVN

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by WVN #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainablejungle
Image by WVN

About WVN

WVN (wo·ven) (originally Synergy Organic Clothing) is an oft-favorited organic clothing brand.

Their sustainable party dresses emulate a clean and classy look that’s just as fitting for Sunday brunch as it is for a fancy setting. 

A compliment to your minimalist wardrobe.

WVN’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Dress to impress the earth in WVN 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton. 

Some dresses feature hand-painted block print designs and all feature non-toxic “dyes that won’t kill you”… if they’re dyed at all.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

This Certified B Corporation ensures “everyone from the farmers to the factory producing our clothing has a seat at the table.”

Partnering with Fair Trade Certified factories in India to make these fair trade fashion dresses, WVN adheres to the highest of standards regarding social and environmental impact. 

Their organic cotton is sourced from small, family-run co-op farms.

Green business practices: 

WVN’s collections are small, a testament to their belief in timeless designs and intentional consumption. That’s of course aided by their traditional, handcrafting methods.

Each product offers a footprint calculator to see how many resources their manufacturing methods use compared to traditional ones.

Many products are also certified Climate Neutral. Click the link below the “Add to Bag” button to find out which projects offset that garment. 

Inclusivity: 

Female-founded WVN’s garments all run XS-XL.

For discounts and reward points, they offer a loyalty program.

Community & charitable giving: 

In their words: “Connection is the heart of what WVN does. Like the threads of a fabric, we are stronger when we come together to work on a future where we all thrive.”

They give monthly donations to She’s the First, which provides underserved girls with opportunities and support systems to succeed.

Available: WVN

5. AMOUR VERT

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Amour Vert #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Amour Vert

About Amour Vert

Amour Vert is French for “green love” and if there’s anything we love, it’s green (as in earthly green).

From ethical boots to fair trade scarves, their fashionable collection includes a wide selection of dresses in a variety of chic cuts. 

Like sustainable silk dresses in bright florals or classy black cocktail dresses, and a bit of something in-between.

Amour Vert’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

FSC-certified TENCEL Modal and Lyocell, organic cotton, Cupro, hemp, recycled polyester, and OEKO-TEX 100 certified Mulberry silk (sustainably grown with little water but not vegan) are combined with non toxic dyes to make their ethical fashion dresses.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

97% of all Amour Vert products are made at one of six factories within a few miles of their San Francisco offices.

Each product description displays the specific factory where that design was produced.

Inclusivity: 

Women’s dresses come in sizes XS-XL sizes.

Community & charitable giving: 

Amour Vert’s biggest charitable campaign is their Tees = Trees, where they plant a tree through American Forests for every t-shirt purchased. They have thus far helped plant over 300,000 trees. 

Their Amour More series highlights inspiring community members.

Available: Amour Vert

6. APIECE APART

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Apiece Apart #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Apiece Apart

About Apiece Apart

Apiece Apart stands several pieces apart from many others.

Their sustainable summer dresses strike a unique balance between elegance and eco-conscious style.

Designed to become “part of your story,” they hope their well-made garments will have a place in your wardrobe for years to come.

You can find a wide selection of jumpsuits, tops, pants, outerwear, and loungewear if you’re in the mood for something a little more understated.

Apiece Apart’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials:

The majority are made from 100% organic cotton, though you’ll see some designs featuring linen, modal, and viscose fabric (which is not produced in a closed-loop manufacturing process).

Any buttons are made of corozo nuts, not plastic.

Supply chain & labor practices:

The majority of Apiece Apart’s sustainable dresses are made in India where their organic cotton is sourced, though a few are made in China.

Including the rest of their garments, Peru, Turkey, and the US join the supply chain, for which they are striving to achieve complete traceability. 

Green business practices:

Between cut-to-order manufacturing practices, compostable shipping bags, and timeless designs, they embody slow fashion principles.

Inclusivity:

This female-founded brand offers dresses in XS-2XL sizes.

Available: Apiece Apart

7. REFORMATION

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Reformation #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Reformation

About Reformation

Reformation’s eco-credentials are extensive and they are always striving to improve.

Their dress selection is huge, including more formal options like sustainable evening dresses and ethical wedding dresses.

While more expensive, these are an investment in USA-made and designed Fair Trade dresses.

You can look and feel good about learning one of these on a night out.

Reformation’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Most are made of TENCEL Lyocell, TENCEL X REFIBRA™ (Lyocell with a 20% recycled cotton waste blend), TENCEL Modal, viscose, and rayon (avoid the latter two if possible).

Others include GOTS-certified linen, recycled cotton, organic cotton, Econyl, and Recover yards (made of old vintage fabric waste).

For finishing, 56% of their dyeing partners are either Bluesign or OEKO-TEX 100 certified, and all fabrics are additionally tested for any defined restricted substances.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

If you’re seeking USA-made sustainable dresses, know that over 65% of production comes from Reformation’s very own Los Angeles factories that largely employ women or from underrepresented populations.

All their factories (including 32 in LA, 1 in Morocco, 1 in Turkey, and 16 in China) are regularly audited and held to the Global Social Compliance Programme’s Code of Conduct, which is equivalent to Fair Trade standards.

Green business practices: 

They recently signed the Circular Fashion System Commitment with the goal of recirculating 500,000 garments by 2025.

In addition to being Climate Neutral, they sell climate credits through Native Energy on their site and incentivize others to switch to wind energy by offering store credit for doing so.

They use bio-based packaging, eco friendly office supplies, wind power supplier, and Green Business certified buildings.

For much more, see their sustainability report.

Inclusivity: 

Most fair trade dresses come in 0-12 or XS-XL sizes but Ref also offers an extended size collection with 1X-3X sizes.

Community & charitable giving: 

They incentivize their staff to get involved in the community, with a paid day off each month to volunteer, organizing company-wide volunteer days, and celebrating staff birthdays by donating a tree on their behalf through L.A.’s TreePeople.

Additionally, they donate profits from rotating collections to organizations like ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

Available: Reformation

8. CHRISTY DAWN

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Christy Dawn #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Christy Dawn

About Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn embody’s breezy Bohemian styles to modestly flaunt your feminine wiles.

A variety of long, flowy skirts and floral cuts and patterns are on offer.

We can’t help but think these sustainable bridesmaid dresses would be ideal for an outdoor summer wedding of the wild-hearted.

You can also search their ethical maternity clothes and ethical sandals for more eco fashion inspo.

Christy Dawn’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Christy Dawn’s ethical dresses are crafted using either deadstock fabric or organic cotton dyed with plant-based dyes.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

All the dresses are sewn in the USA at a factory in downtown L.A. While they can’t control the deadstock fabric they source, they do ensure ethical manufacturing for everything beyond. 

In their journey to becoming a “farm-to-closet company,” they co-created a regenerative agriculture initiative in India (that supplies their organic cotton).

Inclusivity: 

Sizes XS to XXL are available.

Community & charitable giving: 

Christy Dawn doesn’t have a regular giving partner but they get involved with different community fundraisers and grassroots programs, like Olympia Ausset’s SÜPRMARKT campaign to bring healthy foods to poorer neighborhoods of L.A.

Available: Christy Dawn

9. BOYISH

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Boyish #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Boyish

About Boyish

Boyish is a female-founded Los Angeles-based brand that combines authentic designs with feminine fit to create fashion for women who might describe their style as “boyish”.

Their ethical women’s dresses selection is small but includes quintessential sustainable black dresses, as well as mini and maxi dresses.

They choose to sell out before launching new designs so availability is limited. Pay attention to the stock count on their site so you don’t miss out.

Boyish’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

OCS Certified Organic Cotton, hemp, Lyocell, deadstock cotton, and TENCEL™ x Refibra™ (a combination of lyocell and upcycled fabric scraps) are some examples of the materials you’ll find in Boyish’s dresses.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

“People make our jeans, not workers” which is why they joined the Lowest Wage Challenge to help ensure 100% of workers are fairly paid.

This Remake-approved brand requires all entities sign their Code of Conduct and undertakes annual audits of their factory partners and farms.

They’re also ISO 9001 certified meaning their operations adhere to stringent management practices.

Green business practices: 

Boyish saves water, chemicals, and energy by using closed-loop washing and ozone wash bleaching. A pair of their ethical jeans, for example, uses one-third the water of traditional denim.

Everything from their hangtags and labels to the buttons and rivets in their jeans is made of recycled materials.

They recycle all fabric cuttings (including stretch fabrics through Re:Newcell) and joined The Jeans Redesign project from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Compostable shipping bags, a 30-mile-radius supply chain, being carbon neutral since founding, and providing sustainability reports further reinforce their green mission.

Inclusivity: 

Sizes of these fair trade summer dresses run XXS-XL.

Community & charitable giving: 

Boyish is a member of 1% for the Planet through which they regularly donate to the California Coast Keeper Alliance, One Tree Planted, Textile Exchange, Solar Sister, and more.

Available: Boyish

10. THOUGHT

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Thought #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Thought

About Thought

Thought’s mantra is: “Wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on,” and they encourage you to make it your mantra, too.

While their affordable fair trade dress selection is huge shopping is easy with select filters (including by fabric type), allowing you to sort through all the bright florals and classy sustainable black dresses with ease.

Thought’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Thought’s dresses are made of three base fabrics: hemp, bamboo, and certified organic cotton.

These are then blended with additional fabrics like elastane, rayon made from recycled tree pulp, and viscose derived from bamboo. 

They contain only azo-free dyes and OEKO-TEX 100 compliant finishes. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Most fabric is sourced from China where it is also manufactured, keeping shipping emissions lower across production.

While not certified by Fair Trade entities, they uphold their supply chain to equivalent standards and uphold a strict supplier code of conduct.

Inclusivity: 

You’ll find sustainable dresses in UK sizes 6-20 (US sizes 2-14).

They use a unique range models of all shapes and ages.

Community & charitable giving: 

Thought is a founding member of Common Objective, an impact initiative that champions ethical fashion production by incentivizing it with financial returns.

They also donate sample clothing and surplus stock to several UK nonprofits such as TraidSmart Works, and In Kind Direct.

Available: Thought

11. PASSION LILIE

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Passion Lilie #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Passion Lilie

About Passion Lilie

New Orleans-based women’s fair trade clothing line Passion Lilie is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, and an Ethical Fashion Forum Fellowship 500 Member. 

Their designs blend 40s, 50s, and 60s class with the fashion inspiration found in ancient Indian artisanal techniques.

These fair trade summer dresses encapsulate the essence of a minimalist wardrobe.

Passion Lilie’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Passion Lilie uses 100% organic, non-GMO cotton, hand block printed with eco dyes.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Passion Lilie manufactures everything in either World Fair Trade Organization-certified or family factories in India, specifically Bangalore, Jaipur, Tirupur, and Hyderabad.  

They provide disadvantaged workers with long-term, meaningful employment opportunities, fair wages, health care, and loans.

Green business practices: 

The whole process is almost completely non-mechanized, including hand ikat weaving and hand block printing.

The fabrics are hand washed and dried in the sun and leftover fabric scraps get reused for accessories and other handicrafts.

Inclusivity: 

Passion Lilie’s styles run in sizes XS-XL.

These affordable sustainable dresses are priced to ensure “ethical fashion is affordable and accessible to everyone”.

Community & charitable giving: 

Passion Lilie empowers others to give to charities they’re passionate about by selling Passion Lilie products. They’ll help you organize a trunk show to donate to any charity of your choice.

Available: Passion Lilie 

12. MATA TRADERS

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by Mata Traders #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by Mata Traders

About Mata Traders

From the Hindi word “mother”, Mata Traders began with founder Maureen Dunn Fetscher’s love affair with India.

They now call Chicago home but continue to work with the colorful essence of fabrics their line of women’s clothing and accessories is known for.

With a plentiful dress selection, you can choose from fair trade summer dress silhouettes to longer ethical maxi dresses.

Mata Traders’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Almost all are made of 100% fully compostable cotton, but some feature minimal spandex.

Others are made of 100% Tencel.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Mata Traders have been a member of the Fair Trade Federation for a decade, and are a gold-status Green America Certified Business.  

They work with over 1,000 artisans, mostly females from marginalized communities in rural villages and urban slums in India and Nepal. The goal is to give these talented ladies the opportunity to gain meaningful work and social mobility.

They also receive health care, paid maternity leave, pensions, daycare services, and on-staff social workers.

Green business practices:

This slow fashion brand, not surprisingly, manufactures by hand, with weaving, block and screen printing, and embroidery.

Inclusivity: 

Between lots of model diversity and sizes US 0-24, and some available for under $100, the all-around inclusivity is excellent.

Community & charitable giving: 

All their artisans are part of a co-op, which provides additional free access to classes on literacy, computer training, nutrition, and parenting, which help to empower these women.

One embroiderer tells how the co-op gave her the courage to organize a protest that ultimately resulted in water access for her village during a drought.

Available: Mata Traders

13. ACE & JIG

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by ace & jig #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle
Image by @jasonehardwick for ace & jig

About ace & jig

If you’re wondering where to buy bespoke ethical sustainable dresses ace & jig is worth a look.

Since Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson founded the company, they’ve been handweaving a “textile love story” out of funky fun textiles.

Everything is designed to be worn in a number of ways for years to come.

ace & jig’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

These sustainable fashion dresses are made of 100% cotton. 

The yarn is custom woven, dyed with azo-free dyes, sun-dried, and wound on wooden or upcycled bicycle wheel looms.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

ace & jig work with talented and mostly female weavers in India near their cotton farms.

Aside from fair wages, every employee receives access to free childcare and fresh produce grown on-site using water safely reclaimed from the manufacturing process.

Cary and Jenna personally visit their weavers several times a year.

Green business practices: 

ace & jig is dedicated to eliminating textile waste by using or donating trimmings to schools and artists.

They also sell patch kits so you can repair any garment (rather than replacing it). They also donate 100% of the profits from these patch kits to the Natural Resource Defense Council.

They ship via carbon neutral services in 100% recycled paper mailers.

Inclusivity: 

With sizes XXS to 2X and a beautifully inclusive team of models, ace & jig make an admirable contribution toward inclusivity. 

Community & charitable giving: 

ace & jig has donated over $65K to environmental and social justice organizations like EarthJustice, the ASPCA, and the Montauk Oceans Institute.

Available: ace & jig

14. SKFK

To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by SKFK #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainablejungle
Image by SKFK

About SKFK

SKFK (sometimes referred to as Skunkfunk) comes to us from the Basque country, though they now have stores in 38 different countries. 

You’ll find a wide selection, from art-inspired frocks to sustainable cocktail dresses that radiate an urban chic vibe that’s edgy yet timeless.

They only design two collections a year and offer a rental service (especially hand if you miss out).

SKFK’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The best SKFK options are their organic fair trade cotton dresses. 

Other materials include recycled cotton, recycled polyester (GRS or OCS certified and largely sourced from their own supply chain), Lyocell, modal, and Lenzing’s EcoVero fabric.

All are processed sans restricted materials and chemicals so your fair trade dresses are chemical free too.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

As per their pledge through the Chetna Coalition, SKFK only purchases organic cotton sourced from long-term relationships with small farming cooperatives in India.

More on their ethical sourcing policies can be found in the full Supplier Code of Conduct.

Green business practices: 

Aiming to become fully circular, they offer an in-store repair department or garment recycling program.

For their global audience, they partner with Koopera so you can send unwanted garments for recycling into raw, reusable fibers, which SKFK then puts back into circulation. 

Each product includes a Carbon Footprint calculator which shows you the CO2 emissions that the garment will create across its full life cycle, down to the recycled cotton paper tags. 

For shipping, they have a zero air transport policy, use UPS’s carbon neutral shipping option, and ship everything in Repack’s reusable and returnable packaging.

Inclusivity: 

SKFK’s dresses are sized 34-46 (US 2-14) or XS-XXL.

Community & charitable giving: 

SKFK currently gives to the newly founded Berrizan Foundation, which works to protect biodiversity and counters the damage from industrial pine and eucalyptus plantations in Basque Country.

Available: SKFK

Why Buy Sustainable & Ethical Dresses

The problems of fast fashion are numerous: pollution, disregard for human rights, and waste.

In America alone, about 10.5 million tons of textiles hit the landfill every year, while only 15% is recycled or donated.

When looking at all the types of garments, dresses have one of the poorest lifespans. Think about it: How many times have you worn a particular dress versus any other clothing in your closet? 

Chances are not many.

Dresses are designed for specific occasions and are often tossed aside, never to be worn again except once in a blue moon for a burst of nostalgia or when there’s a resurgence of 90s fashion.

It’s time we not only start giving our dresses a more fulfilling life (and therefore buying fewer of them) but buying ones that don’t harm the environment or the people that make them.

Say yes to the dress, but no to the mess.


How We Found Sustainable & Fair Trade Dresses

So how did we determine which brands are the real deal and which ones are blowing smoke?

We referred to our sustainable and ethical fashion criteria.

Here’s the gist of our main considerations:

Materials: 

We want materials with as low impact as possible, both from the raw production side and from the product’s end-of-life. Just below, we’ll dive into sustainable materials specific to dresses.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

This means both consideration for human rights across their supply chain and environmental impact.

Companies should treat workers fairly, reduce their carbon footprint (and offset what they can’t), offer recycling programs if their products can’t be composted, and use low waste packaging.

Third party certifications (like B-Corp and Fairtrade) really help to provide reassurance that they’re not just greenwashing

In this artile in particular, we searched for fair trade certifications or a next level dedication to ensuring those involved at all steps along the supply chain received fair pay and safe working conditions. 

Inclusivity: 

We look for companies that promote both diversity and a healthy body image. Fashion cultivates a lot of negativity in this realm so we want to see companies that don’t exclude body types or sizes.

Charitable endeavors: 

When comparing two companies with similar eco-credentials, we’ll always side with the one that’s involved in some charitable endeavor or cultivating an empowered, involved community of wearers.

What is Fair Trade?

Let’s start with this one (considering it’s in the title and a pretty big theme throughout the article). 

We hear the term “fair trade” tossed around but what does it mean?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple, and the name contains the gist of it.

Fair trade refers to materials, either raw or processed, that are traded fairly, in exchange for proper pay (which means a living wage without working overtime, not just a minimum wage).

Fair trade also means the material was produced in a safe work environment, free from discrimination, harassment, abuse, or child/forced labor. It also guarantees employees with things like proper training and reasonable hours.

There are lots of different certifying entities, like the World Fair Trade Organisation along with individual chapters such as the North American Fair Trade FederationFair Trade USAFairtrade Foundation, and Fairtrade International.

Fabrics for Eco Friendly Dresses

Let’s start with a brief summary of some of the fabrics you’ll find on this list, and ones commonly found in sustainable fashion.

  • Organic cotton: Simply, this is cotton grown without chemicals, meaning it requires a lot less water and less land, and is much safer for cotton farmers and processors. For a cotton garment to hold a Fair Trade certification, it must be grown organically. 
  • Organic HempA fiber from the cannabis plant that requires little water and no pesticides to grow. 
  • Organic Linen: Another minimally water consumptive fiber spun from the flax plant and used to make a range of linen clothing.
  • TENCEL (Lyocell/Modal): Tencel clothing brands use two types of compostable/cellulosic fabric. Lyocell is made from bamboo or eucalyptus wood pulp and Modal from beech trees. Unlike the process of turning bamboo into viscose or wood into rayon, TENCEL has an entirely closed-loop process, which recycles 99% of water and solvents. 
  • Recycled synthetics: Made from either recycled fabrics (like deadstock or vintage clothing) or other plastic waste (like Econyl), these may not be biodegradable but they do put material already in existence to second use, which is a much better use for them than going to landfill. 

And then there are some new fabric innovations on the market we stumbled across while researching these dresses.

  • Cupro fabric: A silk-like fabric spun from reclaimed cotton linter. Cotton linters are a part of the cotton plant, enfolding its seeds. They’re too short for standard cotton spinning so typically they are thrown away. Cupro not only gives this waste a purpose but is made through a closed-loop process, like lyocell and modal. Cupro appears to be typically made by Asahi Kasei in Japan and their Cupro is called Bemberg.
  • EcoVero: EcoVero is the newest fabric to the TENCEL lineup. It’s made from wood through either FSC or Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) certified forests. It creates a silky fabric like viscose. Watch the process here.

However, EcoVero is a little controversial as some argue it is similar to viscose production, which relies on harsh chemicals to turn fibers into fabrics.

While it does still rely on chemicals, the production process is closed-loop, chlorine-free, and produces 50% fewer emissions. 


Final Thoughts on Fair Trade and Sustainable Dresses

Just remember that every time you don a dress, you’re modeling the world you want to live in. It’s pays environmental dividends to opt for ethical dresses (to match those ethical heels).

And these ethical and fair trade dress brands will not only help you look good but feel good.

And isn’t that the secret to beauty?

If you know someone looking for sustainable dresses, share this article with them and help us support the sustainable clothing brands that are changing fashion for the better.


To help you find that ethically beautiful dress, here are some of the best fair trade and/or ethical dress brands who can help you minimize your environmental and social impact. Image by ABLE #fairtradedresses #ethicaldresses #sustainabledresses #sustainablejungle

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