Image by People Tree
Image by prAna
Image by Reformation

9 Eco Friendly & Ethical Winter Coats for Bundling-Up

*This post contains affilate links


Unless you live in a place like Texas or Florida, a winter’s coat is about as essential as can you get… okay, socks and underwear are pretty important, too.

For most of us, the winter months are rough. And…even rougher if we don’t have a warm and durable coat when the mercury drops the mic. 

Unfortunately, some winter coats keep you warm and snuggly at the cost of heating up our planet, too. 

A planet-friendly winter wardrobe is one that keeps us toasty without melting an ice cap. So, we checked in on our guide to sustainable and ethical fashion and used it as a reference to dig through piles of parkas, puffers, blazers, and jackets to find the best ethical winter coats

We’ll elaborate on our process in the coattails (of the article), but here’s a sneak peak for who stands out despite the chill: Passion Lilie keeps it simple with organic cotton and unique energy-conservation processes, Everlane gets creative with recycled materials, and Patagonia… well, is it even possible to talk about eco friendly outerwear without them?

1. OUTERKNOWN

Image by Outerknown
About Outerknown

From socks to swimwear to sweaters, Outerknown is a company that ticks all the boxes. 

Started by surfing legend, Kelly Slater, Outerknown was formed with a radical commitment to sustainability. Here’s what he had to say about what drives him and the company:

We look at our sustainability commitment like the North Star. We will never actually get there, but the North Star is always reminding us what direction we should be going.

You can see the brand’s commitment to strict sustainability standards in their range of men’s and women’s environmentally friendly winter coats.

Outerknown’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Outerknown is known for the sustainable recycled materials that go into their swimwear and board shorts and the materials they use for their ethical winter coats (and sweaters) are just as planet-friendly. 

We’re talking about ECONYL® nylon (made from regenerated fishing nets and other nylon waste) combined with recycled polyester (from plastic bottle waste). When that’s not used, you’ll see materials like organic cotton and cupro (a vegan silk alternative that we’ve previously discussed).

Virgin synthetics aren’t really a thing for Outerwear, and when they are, they’re used minimally. Where animal products are used (like down) they’re certified by the Responsible Down Standard

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Outerwear uses Fair Trade Certified facilities across Peru, China, and Mexico and works collectively with workers to ensure they’re paid a premium for their work along with extra funding to improve their lives even more.  

If transparency is your thing, then check out Outerwear’s full list of suppliers! PS Each one must adhere to a Fair Labor Association Code of Conduct.

Green business practices: 

By 2030, Outerknown will be powered by renewable energy—amongst other sustainability improvements. All of their eco dreams and aspirations can be viewed in their sustainability strategy.

Inclusivity: 

Most items range from S-XXL, so they get an A+ for size inclusivity. We’re hoping to see a bit more diversity in their models in the future though. 

Community & charitable giving: 

Outerwear is one of the ocean’s biggest advocates – committed to a plastic-free sea. They regularly participate in beach cleanups and donate the proceeds from specialty items to organizations like Ocean Conservancy.

Available:  Outerknown


2. EVERLANE

Image by Everlane
About Everlane

Hailing from San Francisco, USA, Everlane’s mission is three-fold: “Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical transparency.”

And we are all about every one of these points. 

Everlane is one of our fave ethical brands. Seriously, they’re featured on pretty much every one of our ethical fashion guides. So it’s hardly a shocking overnight cold snap that we’re also pretty impressed with their environmentally friendly coats

Just looking at Everlane’s large jacket range (including men’s and women’s blazers, casual, coats, parkas, puffers, and lightweight jackets) has us (somehow) excited about brazing below zero.

Everlane’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Everlane uses a range of materials—most of which get an A+ from Planet Earth. Stay warm with their especially eco friendly ReNew line, which uses only recycled materials.  For jackets, this means both wool and polyester (made from recycled plastic bottles).

They also use cotton (of which all will be certified organic by 2023) and semi-synthetics like lyocell. When synthetics like virgin nylon and rayon are used, they’re typically used minimally (less than 10%) though still avoid these if you can.

When it comes to their ethical down winter coats, they go the cruelty-free and earth-friendly route by using recycled PrimaLoft insulation instead. 

Bluesign®-approved dyes provide the finishing touches on their ethical jackets—which are better for the planet and the people who work with them.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

True transparency is hard—yet Everlane manages to deliver. They spent a lot of time finding the best factories and now visit them regularly to ensure that they’re compliant in giving fair wages, ensuring reasonable hours, and prioritizing a safe and healthy environment. 

Taking this one step further, you can even use this interactive map and match each garment with the appropriate factory of origin so you can truly #KnowYourFactories.

Green business practices: 

Everything from Everlane is designed to last. Instead of quickly-changing trends, they prioritize pieces that don’t need replacing.

Inclusivity: 

They prioritize inclusive sizes across all products (XXS-XL) and a true-fit for a range of body types. On top of that, certain items are available in extended plus sizes.

Community & charitable giving: 

Through their Black Friday Initiative, Everlane partners with Oceana annually.  Last year alone they raised $300,000 towards the fight against single-use plastic pollution in the ocean.

Available:  Everlane


3. PATAGONIA

Image by Patagonia
About Patagonia

It’s not an eco friendly coats list without including the OG of sustainable outerwear, Patagonia

Ever since the brand was founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, they’ve been changing the fashion industry from the inside. 

In addition to their men’s and women’s activewear and adventure gear (like luggage, backpacks, and more), they also have an expansive range of ethical sustainable winter coats that are built for more than strolling around town with that reusable cup. Their winter coats are for those who find their playground in the harshest places on earth.

If you’re looking for a jacket for skiing, ice climbing, winter hiking, or extreme cold mountaineering, this is the sustainable outdoor brand for you.

Patagonia’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The eco friendly and innovative materials used by Patagonia’s lighter jackets include ultra-cozy recycled synthetics like nylon and polyester fleece as well as regenerative organic certified cotton

For more burly outerwear, you’ll find a lot of recycled nylon and polyester shells coated in PFC-free waterproof coatings. Their insulation consists of partially recycled Primaloft synthetic insulation or top quality RDS-certified down.

Their impressive list of materials is as large as their range of men’s and women’s eco friendly winter coats.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

From Fair Trade Certified sewing to the support of more than 66,000 workers through their participation in the Fair Trade program, Patagonia is doing a lot to keep their supply chain ethical.  

They’re also keeping it super transparent and traceable by matching all garments to their place of creation via the Footprint Chronicles. Such efforts have earned them the top tier ranking in Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index (60% transparent in 2020).  

More of their social responsibility highlights can be found here.

Green business practices: 

Plans to be carbon neutral by 2025, use of recycled materials, offering to recycle their poly shipping bags in any Patagonia store, pioneering a regenerative farming certification, reselling old and using 100% organically grown cotton for their cotton—these are just a few of the things Patagonia is doing to stay green. 

In the name of Slow Fashion, they resell old garments through the Worn Wear program (a way to get MAJOR deals on like new stuff) and offer a lifetime of repairs via their IronClad guarantee.

Have a look at their sustainability report for more info.

Inclusivity: 

Accessibility to anyone is a pretty big deal for Patagonia, but they always want to do better. In addition to offering an inclusive range of sizes (including plus size ethical clothing), they realize some of their inclusivity shortcomings and have made efforts to address them.

Community & charitable giving: 

Environmental activism is a huge priority for Patagonia, both on a large political scale and the small grassroots scale (which they help by connecting shoppers with local organizations through the Patagonia Action Works).

And they founded 1% For the Planet (which we’re proud members of, too!). Need we say more?

Available:  Patagonia


4. PASSION LILIE

Image by Passion Lillie
About Passion Lilie

They may be based in balmy New Orleans but Passion Lilie’s impact and clothes can be found all around the globe. The brand epitomizes what it means to be a fair and sustainable company (which is why they’re one of our favorite sustainable clothing companies).

They began in 2013, inspired by a trip to India. Working to address the inequalities suffered in the fashion industry, Passion Lilie provides meaningful employment and earning opportunities to artisans in India. 

Passion Lilie is known for the beautiful patterns used in their clothing—including sustainable winter coats for women. Their range includes jackets, ponchos, boleros, blazers, and fleece coats. 

Passion Lilie’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Passion Lilie has a passion for GOTS-certified organic cotton. That’s all they use along with azo-free, organic, and natural dyes for the handblock prints.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

The design process occurs in a New Orleans-based studio before actually coming to life in India. Passion Lilie is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation and the Ethical Fashion Forum Fellowship 500, so they’re committed to reversing the cycle of poverty, especially for those who they employ. 

As a fair trade company, all workers are paid fair wages and enjoy safe and healthy working conditions. Unlike most of the other artisans in India, Passion Lilie workers receive weekends off and break time whenever they need. 

Green business practices: 

Eco-friendly dyes aside, this Green America Certified Business takes sustainability further by washing freshly dyed fabrics in the river to minimize water consumption (and don’t worry, the dyes are totally biodegradable) before being hung dry in the sun to reduce energy consumption. 

Inclusivity: 

All ages and body types are considered  (and used as models!), and sizes run from XS-XL.

Community & charitable giving: 

Since the beginning, Passion Lilie have been able to steadily increase the size of their Indian workforce and support women who are in desperate need of employment through training opportunities. 

They also help customers organize trunk shows by request, the proceeds of which go to the charity of the customers’ choice.

Available:  Passion Lilie  


5. REFORMATION

Image by Reformation
About Reformation

Let’s get right into Reformation and their ethical rating categories. They’re well-aware of all of the problems rampant in the fashion industry and use specific criteria to make sure that their products are the best (or that consumers know where they need to improve). 

Divided into five categories, ranging from ‘Allstars’ to ‘Eww, Never’, they ensure that 75% of what they sell is in the first two categories. This means that, at a minimum, most of their range is ‘Better than Most ‘and has been created with fibers that are almost all natural or recycled.  

This means that, in addition to dresses, denim, jumpsuits, pajamas, and blouses, Reformation also has some of the best eco friendly womens winter coats around.

Reformation’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

If you’re a sustainable fiber fanatic, we’d recommend that you take a look at Reformation’s fiber standards which lists all of the materials they use and how they compare. 

When it comes to their ethical winter coats, they tend to go with materials like deadstock cotton (i.e. leftovers from manufacturing or unsold garments from other companies) and vegetable tanned leather (not vegan-friendly, but without the carcinogens and toxins associated in chrome tanning).

They also use a teeny tiny bit of virgin synthetics (like nylon).

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Between their map of suppliers and factory list (though 33 of these are owned by Ref themselves and located right in LA), their ethical Code of Conduct, and their compliance with international standards for fair labor conditions, we know that Reformation is committed to an ethical supply chain. 

While 65% of their garments are USA-made, the others in China, Morocco, and Turkey are Global Social Compliance Program compliant. 

But they aren’t stopping any time soon, they use all the data they have now to continuously get even better and more ethical.

Green business practices: 

Fulfilling every greenie’s dreams, when you click on an item on their website, you can see the sustainability impact (i.e. carbon dioxide savings, water savings, and waste savings). 

Their sustainability transparency goes even further with their frameworks (goals), People, Product, Planet, Progress reports, and RefScale—which allows you to calculate the impact of Reformation products and how they compare with other clothes. 

Their latest going green strategy is pledging to recirculate 500,000 garments by 2025 through the Circular Fashion System Commitment. Amazingly they’re over halfway there already and it’s only been a year (and a bit).

Oh yeah, they’ve also been carbon neutral for the last 5 years by funding climate positive projects like the Brazilian Rosewood Amazon conservation project and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). They’ll even pay you to do the same! Well, sort of… they will give you store credit if you switch to wind energy at home like they do.

Inclusivity: 

Reformation spends a considerable amount of time making sure that their clothing fits all body types. They test the fit of their products on multiple women and have both a petite collection and an extended sizes collection (up to size 22). They also have a special collection for women with a C-DD cup size!

Community & charitable giving: 

They donate to various rotating organizations (ACLU and Planned Parenthood, to name some past recipients) having a positive impact and give their employees one day off per month to volunteer.

Available:  Reformation


6. AMOUR VERT

Image by Amour Vert
About Amour Vert

Remember that high school French class? Yeah, us neither, but no worries because all you need to know is that Amour Vert translates to “green love”—which is accurate.  

We’ve been known to swoon over Amour Vert’s ethical dresses, but when the temperatures drop we’ll be checking them out for some of the eco friendly winter coats, too.

Amour Vert’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Amour Vert’s range is crafted using carefully selected fabrics combined with non-toxic dyes. They make use of natural fabrics like hemp and organic cotton and also source some FSC-certified TENCEL Modal and Lyocell (a few of our favorite sustainable semi-synthetics).

For their outerwear, expect to see materials like mulberry silk (a sustainable, non-vegan silk alternative), cupro, organic cotton, organic denim, wool, and linen on the labels. They also regularly incorporate recycled cotton, leather, and PET bottle polyester.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

With every item, you can see the people behind production as well as where it’s been made.  

They also use GOTS approved processes and are committed to keeping production local—97% of their range is made close to their main office in San Francisco.

Green business practices: 

Beyond eco friendly materials for their products, Amour Vert also uses eco friendly materials for packaging, such as compostable bags and recycled boxes and filler, all printed with soy-based inks.

Inclusivity: 

We’d like to see some more size inclusivity from this otherwise cutting edge brand, though right now they have a smaller range (XS-L). Some diversity in the sizes of their models would be great, too!

Community & charitable giving: 

Partnering with American Forests, a tree gets planted for every sustainable t-shirt purchase Tees=Trees! 315,769 to be exact.

Available:  Amour Vert


7. THOUGHT

Image by Thought
About Thought

Thought is, well, thoughtfully trying to change the fashion industry one step at a time. Through considered design, responsible sourcing, and opting for the most natural and sustainable fibers, they’re doing exactly that. 

If you’ve typed “eco friendly winter coats UK into your search bar, erase that and type “Thought” instead. Their range of men’s and women’s ethical winter jackets should be on every winter wishlist.

Thought’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

A lot of Thought’s fibers are OEKO-Tex approved and naturally-sourced. These include organic cotton, hemp, and wool. 

These make up most of their jackets, although some contain recycled polyester fleece, recycled wool, and modal, and others have bamboo viscose mixed in (which is a fabric we typically avoid).

If you’re really keen to wear a certain material, you can search their site for your favorite fabric.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

 As founders of the fashion initiative Common Objective (which actually incentivizes ethical practices for other brands in the fashion industry), Thought holds their China-based suppliers to fair trade-equivalent standards and works with a code of conduct

They also recognize that China is typically a red flag, but still opt to manufacture here because it keeps their factories in the same location as their suppliers, thereby reducing substantial shipping emissions along the supply chain.

Green business practices: 

Conserving water, shipping, and waste and using responsible fibers isn’t the only way this brand lowers their impact. They also avoid plastic packaging and use 100% sea freight rather than air.

Inclusivity: 

While Thought is pretty size-inclusive (US size 2-14), we’d be happy to see more of these sizes represented in their models and perhaps a few more sizes on the upper tier. 

Community & charitable giving: 

Thought regularly sends some of their excess stock and returned goods to non-profits in the UK who provide clothes to those in need, as well donating money to various environmental charities.

Available:  Thought


8. PEOPLE TREE

An eco friendly winter wardrobe is one that keeps us toasty without melting an ice cap. So, here's the best ethical winter coats for staying sustainably snug   Image by People Tree  #ethicalwintercoats #ecofriendlywintercoats #sustainablewintercoats #sustainablejungle
Image by People Tree
About People Tree

People Tree was founded in the early 1990’s by London-based designer Safia Minney. Well before Fair Trade was a collective-conscious thing. In fact, People Tree became the first fashion brand to bear it! 

We’ve recently looked at People Tree for their t-shirts, but they’re definitely an all-season brand which includes some of the best fair trade winter coats for women we could find

People Tree’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

People Tree keeps it simple with 100% GOTS Certified organic cotton in their range of jackets. While this is not the warmest of fabrics, their stylish trench coats and fall blazers will certainly keep you covered for a chilly spell.

People Tree’s fabrics are certified by at least one of the following (and hopefully by all three at some point in the future!): Fairtrade International (FLO), the Soil Association, and PETA approved.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

People Tree is not only the OG of fair trade fashion, but they’re also currently a member of many Fair Trade, environmental, and social justice networks. All of their supply chain is certified by the World Fair Trade Organization.

What does this mean? That they are socially responsible and dedicated to providing the best environments and fairest pay for their Nepalese and Bangladeshi workers.  

Green business practices: 

Using artisan techniques, People Tree is able to minimize the energy consumption and emissions associated with their production. Instead of machines, they tend to use hand knitting, weaving, embroidery, and block printing.  

Inclusivity: 

As a size-inclusive brand, their clothes can fit sizes 8-16 (UK) or 2-14 (US).

Community & charitable giving: 

As founders of the People Tree Foundation, People Tree gives back to people through organizations like Bombolulu (providing work opportunities to disables Kenyans), and the planet.  

How could they give back to the planet even more? By promoting Fair Trade as a solution to address ethical and environmental issues in the fashion industry.

Available:  People Tree


9. PRANA

Image by prAna
About prAna

prAna has the characteristics of everything we love in an ethical outdoor and sports clothing brand. You can cool down in your ethical activewear before warming up in one of their ethical winter coats for both men and women. 

prAna’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The materials that go into much of prAna’s clothing are a mixture of some of our favorite eco friendly fabrics (like recycled polyester and organic cotton) along with some not-so-sustainable synthetics (like virgin polyester, lycra, and elastane) to keep you warm and dry. 

As of now, however, not all their items are sustainably made so be sure to read the labels; there are plenty though, so do be picky.

They also use Blusesign® certified materials with PFC-free durable water repellent. This is great, because who wants man-made fluorochemicals on their clothes?!

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Working with Blusesign® materials means that prAna does not use harmful substances that can put their workers in danger. 

Not only are they members of the Textile Exchange, they also became the first North American apparel brand to produce Fair Trade Certified clothing and since then, have supported more than 33,000 workers worldwide! 

They work with several factories around the globe (mostly in Vietnam, India, or China) and ensure that they all meet strict standards when it comes to things like forced labor, child labor, harassment, hours of work, and health and safety. 

Their supply chain list (along with the ability to shop by country of origin) gives interested customers a first hand look at who they work with and where they’re located.

Green business practices: 

prAna encourages everyone to take a part in Clothing for Positive Change (C4PC) by asking questions about where and how clothes are made.

They’re in the process of making several improvements (to packaging, sourcing, and animal welfare) to minimize their environmental impact.

Inclusivity: 

You can imagine our excitement when we saw prAna’s inclusive size range for men (XS-3XL) and women (XXS-XXL). While plus sizes aren’t available for all garments yet, there’s still a healthy selection. This size-inclusivity is consistent with their models, too, which is especially great (and unique) for an activewear brand! 

Community & charitable giving: 

Partnering with Outdoor Outreach, prAna donates some of their profits so that disenfranchised youth can take part in transformative outdoor experiences.

Available:  prAna


HOW WE FOUND THE BEST SUSTAINABLE WINTER COATS

Most of the coats in your closet will contain synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, spandex, and fleece. While these may prevent you against an icy chill, they won’t do much if global warming sends us plunging into the next ice age.  

On that cold front, they cause a lot of harm, too. Synthetic fibers are associated with microplastic pollution—with polyester fleece being the worst. They’re also associated with oil and lots of it—some estimates suggest that 70 million barrels are used to make polyester, in just a single year!  

Suffice it to say that when we looked for the best ethical winter coats, materials were the most important consideration, but there were others as well (based of course upon our trusty sustainable and ethical fashion criteria). 

Materials:

We tend to prefer natural over synthetic ingredients (for obvious reasons touched on above). Organic cotton is the golden child of sustainable fabrics. It requires less water and grows without pesticides and fertilizers—making it a better choice for people and the planet. 

Other natural ingredients we found in the best ethical coats include hemp, linen, and recycled wool. Regular wool and down aren’t so bad either, so long as they’re sourced ethically and cruelty free, which can be determined by looking for RDS and RWS certifications.

Speaking of recycled, we’re happy to see that more and more brands are incorporating recycled materials into their coats (like fabrics made from recycled nylon fishing nets and plastic bottles!). Since coats must often stand up to the elements, synthetics do hold a certain advantage so recycled synthetics are sort of the golden goose here. We expect to see more innovative materials like these in the future.  

Supply chain and labor practices:

Transparency is uber-important when it comes to ethical winter duds. If a brand doesn’t know who they’re working with or where their materials come from, how can they ensure that workers are properly supported?

Fair trade is the biggest sign that a company is going the extra mile to ensure the best conditions and pay for their workers. Even if they aren’t Fair Trade certified, some brands have Code of Conducts that are just as strict. Even better, they publish their Code of Conduct for us to see. 

Better still, are the brands (like Passion Lilie or Reformation) who have an intimate connection with their team, and share their photos and stories with customers.  

Green business practices:

In addition to sourcing sustainable materials, it’s great when a brand does even more to protect our planet. Dressing for ice and snow always feels much better when you know that your ethical winter coat was produced using renewable energy or carbon offsets, environmentally conscious processes, or packaged with plastic-free packaging. 

Inclusivity:

Just because you have a little extra natural insulation around the middle, doesn’t mean you don’t need a winter coat. Inclusion means that all bodies, all shapes, and all sizes are able to enjoy the same access to our favorite fashion brands. A large range of sizes is great, a large range of sizes represented in the models is even better. 

Community & charitable giving:

If a brand is large and profitable enough to give back to a good cause, that’s fantastic. For those who haven’t made it yet financially, we love to see how they support their employees with perks and incentives to do good (like paid days off to volunteer). 


FINAL THOUGHTS ON ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY WINTER COATS

If the warmest ethical winter coats don’t get you excited for the cold, we don’t know what will. Other than cocoa, of course, it’s about the only thing to look forward to during the winter gloom.

But don’t forget, the most environmentally friendly winter coat is the one already hanging in your cupboard. If you’re missing buttons try to repair it, but if it’s terminal like as a broken zipper (which we can never fix!), exercise a sub zero degree of conscious consumerism.

We also recommend that you check out an online thrift store (because who wants to brave the cold when you don’t have to) before buying new.

So what do you guys think? Any Alaskan readers out there with some sustainable secrets for a warm winter night?  Any warm ethical brands that should make the cut – we’d love to know in the comments below.


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