The world of fashion has seen some serious faux pas, but none greater than the trend of fast fashion. It’s unsustainable, unethical, and frankly, plain ugly.
Which is exactly why we’re supporting brands that are out to change the status quo. The tricky bit though is finding truly ethical and sustainable clothing brands.
But that’s why we’re here!
We’ve done all the dressy digging and style sniffing for you. After spending loads of time researching, emailing, confirming policies and finding out exactly what makes fashion sustainable and ethical (jump to the bottom of the article for more on this moving feast) we now present the Masterlist of the best sustainable clothing brands.
Remember to use this list as a resource only when you need to buy a new fashion item and want to do so sustainably. First, try to get creative with what you already have and failing that (you can only shorten your jeans so much!) see if you can find something pre-loved. Online thrift stores make buying used easier than ever.
When you do finally opt to replace an old garment with something new, make you sure you dispose of it responsibly, either via composting (if it’s fully compostable) or through textile recycling services.
Oh, and don’t forget to use a Guppy Friend Bag (available through either Reformation or REI) to wash all your synthetic garments (recycled or not) to prevent microplastics from getting into the waterways!
Without further a-shoe, let’s cut to the base layers and talk about some of the top sustainable clothing brands.
QUICK LINKS FOR SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING BRANDS
Sustainable Clothing Brands in the USA / Canada
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING BRANDS IN THE USA / CANADA
Materials: Huge range of innovative sustainable materials (including organic, natural fabrics and recycled synthetics). See here for the full list.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair trade certified and a strong focus on transparency via The Footprint Chronicles.
Why we love them: Leader in the sustainable fashion movement, inspiring fashion brands around the world with CEO Yvon Chouinard’s memoir Let My People Go Surfing. Founding member of 1% for the Planet.
Based in: California, USA
Materials: Most pieces are made from 100% Fair Trade organic cotton but a handful of designs have some added spandex.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufactured in Fair Trade certified factories in India near fabric sources to reduce transportation emissions.
Why we love them: One of the most affordable ethical fashion brands in the USA. They use water and energy-saving production methods and encourage circular fashion through their Give Back. Wear Forward clothing recycling and donation program.
Based in: Boulder, Colorado, USA
Materials: High percentages of natural fibers and certified responsibly sourced animal-based materials like down and wool. Any synthetic fibers are almost always recycled, including Econyl and recycled polyester.
Supply chain & labor practices: Excellent transparency regarding all suppliers and sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories in Peru, Mexico, and China.
Why we love them: Durable, outdoor-ready designs. Bluesign certified as using minimum chemicals (right down to PFOA-free DWR treated water repellent outerwear).
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
4. SYNERGY ORGANIC CLOTHING
Materials: Mostly GOTS-certified organic cotton, though some garments have recycled polyester, TENCEL Modal, or spandex. Dyed with low-impact non-toxic dyes.
Supply chain & labor practices: Garments are produced in one of two factories, one Fair Trade certified and the other uncertified but adheres to the same principles.
Why we love them: A Certified B Corporation with tons of other certifications, including the Organic Trade Association and Green Business America. Promotes circular fashion with a clothes recycling program.
Based in: Santa Cruz, California, USA
5. AZURA BAY
Materials: As a sustainable retailer, Azura Bay sells only pieces made of sustainable fabrics like GOTS-certified organic cotton, TENCEL Lyocell, recycled synthetic or vintage deadstock.
Supply chain & labor practices: All brands they retail are carefully vetted for ethical sourcing and manufacturing policies. Made in either Fair Trade certified factories or low labor abuse risk countries like the US, UK, and Canada.
Why we love them: Plus-sized inclusivity and expanded size range from original manufacturers. Donates to various environmental and female empowerment organizations. They use only recycled/recyclable or compostable packaging.
Based in: Miami, Florida, USA
6. THREADS 4 THOUGHT
Materials: Organic cotton, recycled polyester, Lenzing Modal and a few sparse synthetics for stretch.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair Trade and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified factories.
Why we love them: Utilizes waste reducing manufacturing techniques. Offers inclusive XS to XXL sizes. Donates a percentage of every sale to NGOs.
Based in: New York City, New York, USA
Materials: High percentages of pure sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, TENCEL, and REPREVE® recycled polyester.
Supply chain & labor practices: Transparent website with a full Factory Ledger (which all have at least one certification by WRAP, BSCI, SA8000, Fair Trade, and Fair Wear Foundation). All suppliers and factories are held to an ethical Code of Conduct.
Why we love them: B-Corp rated among the Top 1% for Manufacturing. They provide impact assessments of all garments and plant TEN TREES for every product sold in areas of damaged biodiversity. Super inclusive sizing and image “for those who identify with the outdoors, but are not defined by them”.
Based in: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Materials: Tons of different fabrics, not all of which are fully sustainable. Ideal fabrics to shop include organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, TENCEL modal, cruelty-free merino wool, and RDS-certified down.
Supply chain & labor practices: Use as many Fair Trade certified factories as possible and allow you to filter shop for only these garments. A member of the Textile Exchange committed to maintaining traceability and ethical practices throughout their large supply chain, even among uncertified entities.
Why we love them: An official bluesign® partner so we know all garments are processed with minimal chemicals and harmful substances. Donate to youth outreach programs to give them the gift of outdoor experiences.
Based in: Carlsbad, California, USA
Product range: Best eco-friendly outdoor clothing brand for activewear, swimwear, and casualwear (like outdoor dresses, tees, and sweaters). Also sell yoga mats to complement their yoga clothing range.
Materials: 100% handpicked Giza “white gold” cotton, the finest of all Egyptian cotton, though not all their farms are certified organic…yet (actively changing this as part of their positive impact ambition).
Supply chain & labor practices: Purchase cotton from family farms “direct trade” at set prices so farmers aren’t affected by market fluctuations. A third-party audits all farms and factories and conducts regular employee satisfaction interviews. Centralized supply chain all located within a 100km radius.
Why we love them: Certified B-Corp. Works directly with cotton farms to help them switch to organic practices. Donates a portion of each sale to stop the cycle of child labor by educating children (especially girls) from rural Egyptian farming communities.
Based in: Toronto, Canada
10. THE CLASSIC T-SHIRT COMPANY
Materials: 100% ringspun and pre-shrunk GOTS-organic cotton dyed with Azo-free dyes.
Supply chain & labor practices: Made in the USA, from the cotton milling to manufacturing in a vertically integrated state-of-the-art Los Angeles factory. Committed to fair trade principles and cost transparency.
Why we love them: Timeless, flattering cuts and solid colors designed to never go out of style. Recycled plastic-free packaging only. They donate to the customer’s choice of three charities as a member of Pledge 1%.
Based in: Miami, Florida, USA
Product range: Best organic sustainable clothing brand for USA made basic short and long sleeve T shirts.
11. PASSION LILIE
Materials: GOTS-certified organic, non-GMO cotton… that’s it!
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufactures only in World Fair Trade Organization certified family factories in India. Provides all workers with fair wages, health care, and loan opportunities.
Why we love them: Hold memberships to the Fair Trade Federation and Ethical Fashion Forum Fellowship 500. Green America Certified Business that uses almost entirely non-mechanized production methods. Helps you give back to your favorite charities.
Based in: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Materials: Use ethically sourced ZQ Merino wool for all wool shoes and FSC-certified eucalyptus-derived TENCEL Lyocell for the “tree” shoes. Other materials include recycled plastic laces, bio-based TPU lace eyelets, and blended EVA and castor bean oil midsoles. Slowly switching to an innovative sugarcane-derived carbon-negative EVA outsole called SweetFoam.
Supply chain & labor practices: Provide full supply chain and sourcing transparency. Final assembly in WRAP-certified factories in South Korea and China.
Based in: San Francisco, California, USA (but founded in New Zealand)
Product range: Best eco-friendly footwear brand for sneakers, slippers, and casual slip-ons for the whole family. And they’ve developed a sustainable running shoe (very hard to find in our experience!)
13. UNITED BY BLUE
Materials: Use a huge variety of traditional natural fibers, TENCEL, cruelty-free wools, and recycled polyesters, as well as a few virgin synthetics. For fully sustainable garments, shop their range of innovative signature fabric combinations. Only use vegetable dyes.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufacture across just seven GOTS, OCS, and/or Fair Trade-certified factories in Turkey, China, Vietnam, and the USA. Publish yearly Impact Reports on the cumulative impact and practices of these factories.
Why we love them: Certified B-Corp with an above-average 80.1 impact score. Working to eliminate all single-use plastic from operations. Donates to and organizes ocean cleanups (having so far removed over 3 million pounds of ocean trash).
Based in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Materials: Indosole turns #TiresToSoles by making recycled tire flip flops combined with low-water vegan leather and plastic-free “ENVRO” fiber.
Supply chain & labor practices: Limit the majority of their supply chain to Indonesia, from sourcing old tires from garages all the way to final manufacturing via local craftsmen. All entities audited yearly for social and environmental impact.
Why we love them: Certified B-Corp that gives back by organizing charity events and donating shoes. Make ultra durable and waterproof sandals for all-terrain use.
Based in: San Francisco, California, USA
Product range: Best eco friendly footwear brand for recycled flip flops.
Materials: Prioritize the use of natural fibers like organic linen and cotton and other non-vegan but responsibly sourced fibers (merino wool, Grade-A cashmere, alpaca, recycled down). Items from their ReNew line are made of recycled synthetics. Some styles contain less environmentally friendly fabrics (e.g. virgin elastane and nylon).
Supply chain & labor practices: Disclose where garments are made (and where materials are sourced) and an interactive map of all factories. Audit their factories yearly.
Why we love them: Inclusive sizes and body-type specific styles for a true-fit. Yearly giving campaigns to environmental charities. Aim to eliminate virgin plastic from production by 2021.
Based in: San Francisco, California, USA
Materials: Use the same 10 sustainable fabrics, which are either organically certified/FSC-certified natural fibers or recycled synthetics/animal fibers. Many are Bluesign Approved and use non-toxic waterproofing methods like PFC-free DWR coatings or natural waxed cotton canvas.
Supply chain & labor practices: Openly disclose all their sourcing locations in China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, and the USA. Manufacture in either Canada, China, Thailand, or Turkey with regularly audited long term partners that adhere to their ethical code of conduct.
Why we love them: Committed to “make clothing that lasts” and is super versatile whether your jungle is real or concrete.
Based in: Portland, Oregon, USA
Product range: Best sustainable men’s clothing brand for outerwear, hoodies, work shirts, casual bottoms, and loungewear. Also carry some women’s clothing.
17. AMOUR VERT
Materials: Use primarily natural or cellulosic fibers like FSC-certified TENCEL Modal and Lyocell, organic cotton, Cupro, hemp, and merino wool. Also use recycled polyester and occasional blends of virgin spandex. All fabrics are dyed with non-toxic, biodegradable dyes.
Supply chain & labor practices: Made in San Francisco. 97% of garments are manufactured across six San Fran factories. Specific factories noted in each product description.
Why we love them: Have planted over 300,000 trees through their Tees = Trees giving campaign.
Based in: San Francisco, California, USA
18. GROCERIES APPAREL
Materials: Prioritize natural, organic fibers like California-grown GOTS cotton, Lyocell, and hemp. Synthetics include those made from recycled plastics and Caba-free Spandex. Also offer the ability to shop “by ingredient”.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufactured in their own California factory where they pay wages above California’s already high minimum wage. Source 98% of their materials from local Los Angeles suppliers and Fair Trade sources.
Why we love them: Committed to being a “seed-to-skin” company. They “are here to create a demand for our values and would rather go out of business than compromise.”
Based in: Los Angeles, California, USA
19. LA RELAXED
Materials: Use mostly natural fibers like non-GMO organic cotton, linen, hemp, Lyocell, and Modal, occasionally blended with small amounts of spandex.
Supply chain & labor practices: Prioritizes local vendors and keeps almost all their supply chain in the US. Most manufacturing takes place in their Los Angeles factory.
Why we love them: Three words: Oprah-approved jumpsuits. They also donate clothing to local homeless youth.
Based in: Los Angeles, California, USA
Product range: Best eco-friendly clothing brand for activewear, basics, T shirts, and pajamas.
20. MATE THE LABEL
Materials: Mostly use GOTS organic cotton, but also use a handful of other natural fibers like TENCEL, hemp, and flax. Low impact dyes only.
Supply chain & labor practices: Source cotton from Maharashtra, India, but the rest of the supply chain is “v localized”. All knitting, cutting, sewing, and dyeing takes place in fair trade equivalent factories in Los Angeles all within a 10-mile radius.
Why we love them: Female founded and run company. Reduces plastic by using plastic-free hang tags, shipping in recycled boxes and partially plant-based poly bags. Working on starting a garment recycling program.
Based in: Los Angeles, California, USA
Product range: Best vegan women’s essentials clothing brand for graphic and essential T shirts and other loungewear.
Materials: Insoles and sandals made with recycled wine corks, Bloom Algae Foam and/or post-industrial recycled EVA. For straps, they use either recycled PU or chrome-free leather.
Supply chain & labor practices: Source all cork through ReCORK (which they founded) and is now North America’s largest wine cork recycling program. They manufacture in China with “partners we consider to have high levels of environmental and social integrity.”
Why we love them: Make long-lasting, supportive sandals with customizable firmness, medical-approved arch support, and foot molding capabilities. Purchase carbon offsets. 1% for the Planet member and founder of Brands for Better give-back network.
Based in: Vancouver, Canada
Product range: Best eco-friendly footwear brand for flip flops, sandals, and insoles that have been medically proven to help those with foot injuries and back problems.
22. MATA TRADERS
Materials: Mostly 100% cotton, though some styles contain rayon (to be avoided if possible).
Supply chain & labor practices: Long-time member of the Fair Trade Federation. Partner with artisan co-ops in India and Nepal that employ 1,000+ (mostly) females from marginalized communities. These organizations provide all workers with health care, paid maternity leave, pensions, daycare services, literacy courses, and other training services to encourage upward mobility.
Based in: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Product range: Best fair trade women’s clothing brand for affordable dresses, plus-size clothing, and accessories.
Materials: Working to eliminate things like spandex, viscose, and rayon in favor of more sustainable fabrics like TENCEL Lyocell, Modal, and REFIBRA™, organic natural fibers, and recycled synthetics. Most materials finished in Bluesign or OEKO-Tex 100 factories without the use of restricted substances.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufactures over 65% of garments in their own 32 Los Angeles factories. Regularly audits all other factories. Employs mainly women and others from underrepresented populations.
Why we love them: Carbon neutral by maximizing green practices, incentivizing customers to switch to wind energy, and much more. Signed the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment to recirculate 500,000 garments by 2025. Regularly give backs and volunteers.
Based in: Los Angeles, California, USA
Materials: Use three “pillars” of fabric: GOTS-certified natural (cotton, hemp, linen, and silk), cellulosic (TENCEL Modal and cupro), and Global Recycle Standard certified regenerated.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufacture in NEST-certified (similar to Fair Trade standards) factories in India and Vietnam.
Why we love them: AMUR take back any unwanted garments to recycle into new clothes (one of many reasons their name is short for “A Mindful Use of Resources”).
Based in: New York City, New York, USA
Product range: Best sustainable high end clothing brand for women’s dresses and skirts, jumpsuits, and fancy tops.
25. SHERPA ADVENTURE GEAR
Materials: Mostly uses recycled synthetics for its technical benefits, such as Polartec’s Repreve® and Primaloft® insulation but also use natural fibers like organic cotton and Modal. Currently, 39% are OEKO-tex-100 approved and 28% are bluesign® Approved.
Supply chain & labor practices: Over half of the products are made in Nepal, either through socially compliant factories or work-from-home co-ops. Employs women without access to other employment and requires detailed payroll reports to ensure fair wages.
Why we love them: Publish yearly impact reports that demonstrate continuous improvement. Provide scholarships to Nepalese children through the Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund. Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) partner.
Based in: Modesto, California, USA
Product range: Best eco friendly outdoor clothing brand for womens and mens outerwear, hiking wear, hats, and backpacks.
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING BRANDS IN THE UK / EUROPE
26. ORGANIC BASICS
Materials: Many garments are 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. Select styles also contain recycled nylon, TENCEL, and sustainably sourced silver (certified safe by multiple entities).
Supply chain & labor practices: Transparent publication of all involved factories along with employee labor stats. BSCI-compliant and they hold a Sedex membership. They personally visit their factories and sit down face to face with seamstresses.
Why we love them: 1% for the Planet member that provides grants to grassroots activists through the Organic Basics Fund. They offer free carbon-neutral global shipping by funding wind farms and offsetting 100 kg of CO2 for every online order. They also provide garment impact indexes and annual Impact Reports.
Based in: Copenhagen, Denmark
27. PEOPLE TREE
Materials: Prioritize natural, biodegradable fibers like organic cruelty-free merino wool, organic cotton, and TENCEL™ Lyocell. All dyes are GOTS-certified and azo-free.
Supply chain & labor practices: Source all fabrics from Fairtrade International and Soil Association certified suppliers. Fair Trade certifications for 90% of their factories and work-from-home co-op seamstresses. Publish proof of social responsibility in a yearly Review.
Why we love them: First ever Fair Trade certified fashion brand, and made sustainable fashion garments way before it was trendy. Use mostly manual manufacturing techniques and closed-loop fabric processing. Gives back and raises awareness about problems in the fashion industry through People Tree Foundation.
Based in: London, UK
Materials: Use lots of natural and OEKO-Tex 100 approved fibers like organic cotton, hemp, and wool, along with some recycled synthetics. Also use bamboo viscose and rayon (which we’d avoid, for reasons we discuss here). ‘Shop by material’ search function.
Supply chain & labor practices: Published supplier code of conduct and cruelty-free animal welfare policies. Manufacture and source fabrics from China (though minimal details on these entities). Being founders of the fashion impact initiative Common Objective also holds them to fair trade equivalent supply chain standards.
Why we love them: Donate returned or excess stock to various UK nonprofits. Keep suppliers as close to manufacturing as possible to keep emissions down.
Based in: London, UK
Materials: Make “Pure Denim” out of mainly GOTS organic cotton or Post-Consumer Recycled Denim, with some recycled PET, Tencel, hemp, and linen. All PETA approved vegan and processed via chemical-free ozone bleaching and natural indigo dyeing.
Supply chain & labor practices: Major suppliers hold ethical certifications based on audits, including BSCI and Fair Wear Foundation (FWF). Held to an additional ILO, UN, and FWF standard Code of Conduct. Publication of all yearly impact assessments, suppliers, and factories.
Why we love them: First organic denim brand. Use energy/water saving manufacturing methods. Promote slow fashion and fair pricing with no seasonal collections or running sales. Recycle old denim via Blueloop partners.
Based in: Utrecht, Netherlands
Materials: Organic cotton, often blended with TENCEL Lyocell and occasionally wool or silk. Also use GRS and Recycled Content Standard (RCS) certified recycled acrylic and polyamide. A few articles have a small blend of virgin elastase. Processed without restricted chemicals.
Supply chain & labor practices: Member of the Chetna Coalition and thus source their cotton from long-term Indian cooperative farming parameters. Published Supplier Code of Conduct for all suppliers and factories.
Why we love them: Encourage circular fashion through their in-store repair department, garment recycling program, and fashion rental service. Donate money to protect local Basque biodiversity. Ship via UPS Ground carbon neutral shipping.
Based in: Basque Country, Spain
31. KNOWLEDGECOTTON APPAREL
Materials: Use mostly natural fibers like organic cotton, organic linen, Tencel, and cruelty-free ZQ Merino wool. Synthetics limited to GRS certified recycled polyester and faux leather microfiber. All garments bear either GOTS or Organic Content Standard (OCS) certifications.
Supply chain & labor practices: Member of the Textile Exchange working to fight poverty and child labor. Suppliers certified by third-party organizations and held to their own ILO-based Code of Conduct. They show #WhoMadeMyClothes through a global factory map organized by types of garment produced.
Why we love them: Working toward 100% carbon neutrality. Super inclusive sizes, including for small, short men that often get excluded. Plant trees in their very own forest in India.
Based in: Herning, Denmark
Materials: Natural materials such as Merino wool, Egyptian cotton, organic cotton, Mongolian cashmere, and linen (all are working toward 100% traceability). Use recycled synthetics and PET bottles for metal hardware, accents, and jacket linings.
Not all materials are sustainable yet (e.g. leather belts) but they provide transparency on those that are not.
Supply chain & labor practices: Admirable focus on providing full material traceability and true cost transparency. Publicly available list of global factories, details about each, and last visit date.
Why we love them: Don’t offer permanent, non-seasonal collections. Inclusive size range.
Based in: Stockholm, Sweden
33. PICTURE ORGANIC
Materials: Recycle plastic bottles into ski jackets, ski jackets into board shorts. Use tires blended with Limestone to make wetsuits. Water-based glues and laminates only.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair Wear Foundation certified. Partnered with Agence Innovation Responsable (AIR) for better supply chain management across their 20 total factories.
Why we love them: Certified B-Corp. Partners with eco-positive NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund and offers yearly grants for grassroots environmental or social project proposals through Picture For Good. Reduced brand footprint by using renewable energy and refusing to ship by air.
Based in: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Product range: Best eco-friendly clothing brand for men’s and women’s surf and swimwear, and ski and snowboard wear.
Materials: REACH compliant recycled fabric technology to make footwear and clothing out of recycled tires, plastic bottles, and discarded nylon fishing nets. Innovative waste-byproduct bio fabrics like vegan leather Pinatex and sorona, a corn-starch based biopolymer.
Supply chain & labor practices: BSCI or SA8000 certified factories located in Europe. Suppliers all have at least one Bluesign® certification or OEKO-Tex 100 certification.
Why we love them: First fashion brand in Spain to become a certified B-Corp. Founded the ECOALF Foundation and continues to donate 10% of profits to it, helping to remove over 500 tons of waste from the ocean. Zero waste packaging.
Based in: Madrid, Spain
Materials: PETA-approved materials include all natural fibers like certified Fairtrade organic cotton uppers, coconut fiber footbeds, FSC-certified natural rubber outsoles, and latex milk adhesive.
Supply chain & labor practices: Top notch brand transparency. German Association of Workshops “accredited supplier”. Manufacture in a FLO-CERT audited Fair Trade factory in Pakistan.
Why we love them: Offer a subsidized sneaker repair program for German customers. Ship globally but only by sea freight to reduce transportation emissions. Put $1 for every pair of shoes sold toward employee education, healthcare, and pension funds.
Based in: Lübeck, Germany
Product range: Best vegan footwear brand for classic ethical skate shoes and hightop sneakers.
Materials: Natural lingerie fibers include GOTS-certified organic cotton, banana fabric, TENCEL lyocell, and milk fiber (a dairy industry byproduct). Most polyester, elastane, and Q-NOVA nylon synthetics are GRS-approved recycled and OEKO-Tex certified for chemical-free processing.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair Wear Foundation licensed and compliance with International Labor Organization and U.N. Declaration on Human Rights standards. Manufacture in a small woman-owned factory in India and other European factories to keep manufacturing closer to their offices. Transparency on where each garment is made.
Why we love them: Body positive brand image. Eco-friendly packaging and biodegradable shipping materials.
Based in: Copenhagen, Denmark
Materials: All swimwear is made of recovered ocean plastic ECONYL (in fact, they were the FIRST swimwear company to use this) and recycled stretch fabrics sourced through their garment take-back program. All garments are OEKO-Tex 100 compliant.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufacture locally in the UK or just across the pond in Spain in safe and ethical factories.
Why we love them: Currently the world’s only not-for-profit swimwear company, donating all profits to support female entrepreneurs. They are PETA-certified vegan and a registered Community Interest Company that has integrated 9/17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into their business practices.
Based in: Brighton, UK
Materials: All footwear comes with a recycled rubber outsole. Footbeds and straps are made of materials like upcycled cork, jute, salvaged cotton strap, and a select few with non-biodegradable EVA.
Supply chain & labor practices: Manufacture in China but do so because of the large amount of landfill-bound rubber produced there which they can remake into shoes. They frequently visit their factories to ensure ethical practices are maintained.
Why we love them: Also have branches in the USA and UK to keep shipping emissions down. Sell “1000-miler” flip flops tested for durability and terrain resiliency.
Based in: Poole, Dorset, UK
Product range: Best ethical footwear brand for boat shoes, sandals, and flip flops.
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING BRANDS IN AFRICA
39. ASHA ELEVEN
Materials: Asha:Eleven’s “raw materials and textiles are either 100% natural or are recycled / up-cycled”. Custom dyeing is done with digital printing and they use non chemical, natural dyes wherever possible.
Supply chain & labor practices: Work with small production houses who have a positive company culture and provide fair working conditions. Support traditional hand craftsmanship in disadvantaged communities through ‘trade not aid’.
Why we love them: We were lucky enough to speak directly with the founder, Olivia Kennaway on our podcast and she is the real deal! She shares inspiring stories about the people behind the brand.
No plastic policy for all their packaging and shipping. Offer worldwide shipping, offset with carbon credits.
Based in: Cape Town, South Africa
40. SOLE REBELS
Materials: Use recycled car tires for all shoe soles. Sustainable materials for uppers include Abyssinian Heritage organic cotton, KOBA plant fiber, jute, and (for non-vegan shoes) naturally tanned Abyssinian Pure leather sourced as a food-industry byproduct.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair Trade since founding. Entire supply chain is localized in Ethiopia to create gainful employment opportunities. Provide all artisans and farmers with medical coverage, transportation, education funds for their children, and “proud wages” about 4x minimum wage.
Why we love them: Use entirely hand manufacturing techniques like weaving on cotton on traditional Eucalyptus looms. Ship in organic cotton bags.
Based in: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING BRANDS IN AUSTRALIA / APAC
41. NO NASTIES
Materials: 100% GOTS-organic, non-GMO, and fair trade cotton only.
Supply chain & labor practices: First Fair Trade certified Indian clothing brand. Entire supply chain centralized in India and certified by either Fairtrade International or FLO-CERT. Source from Chetna Organic sustainable farming co-operative and mill in Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills, India’s most eco-friendly mill.
Why we love them: Transparent website with production videos, individual product impact assessments, and an impact report. They run a “buy one, get one tree” tree-planting campaign and started the fabric upcycling non-profit Once Upon A Doug. PETA-certified vegan.
Based in: Goa, India
Materials: Use vegan materials, namely GOTS certified organic cotton uppers and laces and FSC-certified natural rubber soles. Final products are REACH compliant due to non-toxic dyes and water based glues.
Supply chain & labor practices: Fair Trade certified and opt into a voluntary Fairtrade Premium program, making additional investments in employee healthcare, training, transportation, and annual bonuses. Fully traceable supply chain across cotton farms and factories.
Why we love them: Certified B-Corp, Australia Fashion Reports A+ ethical production rating. Certified “toward carbon neutrality”. Recycle clothing and shoes via their Take Back Program. FSC-certified compostable packaging.
Based in: Victoria, Australia
Materials: All suits are a blend of mostly recycled nylon 6 and elastane, dyed with OTS certified dyes. Oeko-Tex 100 and Clear to Wear approved.
Supply chain & labor practices: Handmade manufacturing in a single factory in Guangzhou, China. Seamstresses paid amounts significantly over minimum wage and they provide free transportation and housing options, medical insurance, paid leave, and 60 days of yearly vacation.
Why we love them: Body positive branding and inclusive models. Plastic-free, compostable packaging. Winner of the Laureate Business award for Sustainable and Social Good Projects.
Based in: Brisbane, Australia
Product range: Best ethical clothing brand for women’s swimwear. Specifically sell super flattering and versatile reversible wrap swimsuits.
HOW WE CHOSE THESE SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING DESIGNERS
The fashion industry is massive. We’re talking utterly mind-boggling in scale. How else could it be one of the dirtiest? So even despite the influx of sustainable and ethical clothing brands hitting the racks over the last decade, there’s still a whole heap of harmful ones to sort through.
We’ve spent a lot of time doing just that while writing our specific fashion guides.
Not to mention pouring our hemp-cloth hearts and style-savvy souls into making this comprehensive guide to sustainable and ethical fashion, from which we developed a set of criteria that we now use to determine the most sustainable clothing brands.
- Materials: This is the most important factor because it’s where the majority of a garment’s impact comes from (from the impact of raw material sourcing all the way to end-of-life outlook).
Essentially, we look for natural organically-grown fibers, closed-loop plant cellulose fibers, and recycled synthetics, while avoiding unsustainable materials like chemically-tanned leather (or really most leather if we can help it), virgin synthetics, and chemically plasticised bamboo viscose and rayon.
Even once we discount those, there are TONS of possible sustainable materials out there, with new innovative ones popping up on the daily.
And because this is a comprehensive fashion and footwear brand guide, we couldn’t possibly touch on all these materials here. For that, we again highly recommend you check out the material section of our sustainable fashion guide.
Each of our specific brand guides also features a detailed description of sustainable materials for that particular type of garment at the bottom.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Materials largely deal with environmental impact, while this criteria deals with social responsibility and how a brand treats its workers. This refers to ALL workers involved in the manufacturing of a garment, from raw material farmers to those putting on the final sale tags (in other words, the supply chain).
We look for brands that can provide traceability for all raw materials as well as transparency about their factories, including areas that may need improvement. We understand not every brand is 100% perfect, but it’s the honesty and willingness to improve that we really value.
One thing we use to establish whether brands are paying their workers fairly and maintaining safe work environments is by looking for one of a number of third party certifications to prevent greenwashing. Again, there are tons out there, but here are some of the most common:
- B-Corp: The gold standard and quite hard to achieve, but you’ll notice a good handful of brands on this list have managed. Using third-party audits conducted yearly on ALL supply chain entities, brands are assessed on 80 “impact areas” and given numerical scores reflecting the results (which are all public record on the B-Corp website)
- Fair trade: Another important one and can apply to either a brand as a whole or just individual suppliers/factories used. It means the material or garment was made fairly (imagine that!). More specifically, it means the laborers receive fair pay, proper training, reasonable work hours, safe work environments, and protection against discrimination, harassment, abuse, and child/forced labor.
- OEKO-Tex 100: A non-toxic certification that means no harmful chemicals (i.e., colorants, heavy metals, formaldehyde, azo-dyes) were used in manufacturing a garment (which also means the workers weren’t exposed to them!). REACH is another similar certification under this umbrella used in the EU.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): Means a fiber was grown and processed “seed to shelf” without the use of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, machine harvesting, bleaches, or chemical plasticizers. .
- Global Recycle Standard (GRS): Applied to recycled fabrics, either synthetic or natural, and ensures a certain percentage of the final fiber is actually recycled. Otherwise, a brand could claim a garment with just 1% recycled material is “partially recycled” without technically lying.
- Some other reputable certifications: Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Business for Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), Social Accountability International (SA8000), and Fair Wear Foundation.
- Green business practices: A catch-all for any other cool or interesting green initiatives a brand has going, such as garment recycling programs, limiting to reusing textile waste, carbon offsetting, using renewable energy, having Green certified offices, using closed-loop and/or manual manufacturing techniques, and low waste/plastic-free packaging.
- Inclusivity: Fashion as a whole tends to be a little less than body-positive. So it’s super important to us for brands to turn this negativity and body shaming on its head by offering inclusive sizes, marketing to real women (not just airbrushed Barbie Doll models), and ensuring their image is welcoming to all cultures, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
- Community & charitable giving: The most sustainable clothing brands are those that strive for a more sustainable world by giving back. This can mean a lot of things, like donating money or clothes, volunteering, being a member of 1% for the Planet, organizing charitable events, or just using their voice to bring awareness to pressing issues.
We know that sounds like a lot, so until applying these principles becomes second nature to you (as it now is for us), we want to be here to help in whatever way we can. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ETHICAL CLOTHING BRANDS
We’d like to take a quick moment to say how thrilled we are with how this list turned out. There are so many wonderful, sustainable brands that are changing the garment game! It’s so inspiring to see! We hope you’re as uplifted by it as we are.
And what’s even more exciting? There are likely more brands out there that deserve a spot here, too, so if you know of any, reach out to us on the comments below. We always love to get the skinny on new sustainable styles (metaphorically speaking, of course, since size inclusivity is one of our criteria!).
If you found this list as helpful as we hope, give it a quick share on your socials and help us spread the good word on green garments. It’s great that brands like these exist, but that only means so much if we don’t support their efforts to revolutionize the entire fashion industry.