Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Christy Dawn #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Christy Dawn
Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by zero waste daniel #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by zero waste daniel
Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by RE/DONE #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by RE/DONE

Zero Waste Fashion: 9 Brands Closing The Loop


Our parents were right when they told us not to be wasteful. 

If only someone could scold the entire fashion industry because textile waste is staggering

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion by using circular practices. 

So what is zero waste fashion?

It’s a form of slow fashion. It could be that the brand does not produce any textile waste or produces the bare minimum and responsibly disposes of it.  

Or zero waste fashion could mean the brand fully engages the circular economy by using deadstock or waste materials to create new products.

For Christy Dawn, it means turning locally sourced deadstock fabric into beautiful boho designs. RE/DONE does it similarly—but transforms vintage Hanes and Levi’s into modernly-appreciated fashion pieces. 

Etsy shop Green Market Vintage features unique handmade vintage-inspired pieces with perfect hippie vibes. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for these zero waste fashion brands!

If you don’t have a second to waste, see how we scrapped together this brand list at the bottom.

*This post contains affiliate links

1. CHRISTY DAWN

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Christy Dawn #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Christy Dawn
About Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn is a slow fashion brand that makes women’s clothes and ethical shoes that are beautiful, bohemian, and way better for our planet. 

Their vintage-inspired and upcycled pieces include tops, bottoms, fair trade dresses, loungewear, overalls, outerwear, organic maternity clothes, ethical sandals, and ethical boots.

You’ll look good in any of their zero waste clothing, but you’ll feel even better.

Each piece is designed to be beautiful down to the way it’s processed and produced to preserve the beauty of the earth. 

Christy Dawn’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

You have two big decisions when it comes to this brand: organic cotton or deadstock fabric. 

You’re probably already familiar with the many benefits of organic cotton, but when it comes to companies that support zero waste fashion design, using deadstock (i.e. leftover fabric) is one of the best things to do. 

Christy Dawn’s Deadstock Collection is made from rescued and revitalized fabric or natural leather that would otherwise end up in a landfill—but instead gets turned into a flowy dress or pair of oxford shoes!

Given the limited quantities of these types of materials, each collection is relatively small and many pieces are one of a kind. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Everything is designed and made in the US, in one of their downtown LA factories. Keeping things small and sustainable, this is also where they’re able to source most of their deadstock fabric. 

Nothing is rushed and all team members are treated like family. Everyone gets paid above minimum wage and up to three times as much as most garment makers. 

In every garment’s product description, you can “meet” the person who made it, as well as see a breakdown of how the cost was decided upon.

In addition to deadstock materials, Christy Dawn uses organic cotton from a farm in India. 

Green business practices: 

For their cotton, Christy Dawn partners with the Oshadi Collective, which is committed to regenerative cotton and already has achieved a climate positive status.

Inclusivity:

Christy Dawn is a woman-owned company. 

Most garments come in sizes XS to XXL. They also carry both petite sizes and extended or plus size zero waste fashion (1X – 3X). 

Community & charitable giving:

Wanting to give back to their local community, the brand regularly supports local grassroots initiatives and fundraisers.

Just one example is the Olympia Ausset SÜPRMARKT, which provides locals access to fresh and healthy food in one of LA’s food deserts. 

Available: Christy Dawn

2. RE/DONE

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by RE/DONE #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by RE/DONE
About RE/DONE

RE/DONE is all about “vintage made better.”

The American recycled clothing brand embodies luxury fashion, individuality, and above all, sustainability. 

The brand started over a love for vintage Levi’s and how those can be transformed by taking an old pair of jeans and making them new.

Since then, they’ve become one of the world’s largest zero waste fashion companies.

By successfully upcycling vintage jeans to fit modern wearers, they’ve prevented more than 145,000 garments from entering landfills.

They start with the original, vintage garments and take them apart to mix and match certain portions, making one-of-a-kind and completely unique pieces.  

You won’t have to worry about anyone else having your outfit, but you will pay a premium for the originality.

In addition to upcycling Levi’s women’s sustainable and ethical jeans, shorts, and denim aprons, they’ve also partnered with Hanes to create a range of tops and non-denim bottoms. 

RE/DONE’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Upcycled materials from brands like Hanes and Levi’s make up the majority of the garments, but they’re often blended with organic cotton, Tencel lyocell, and some stretchy synthetic fabrics (like rayon fabric and spandex).

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Your new 70’s-style babydoll dress will have been made in an ethical factory in Los Angeles, just a stone’s throw away (10 miles to be exact) from RE/DONE’s headquarters. 

Green business practices: 

Traditional handcrafting is used more often than machines, which not only cuts down on production emissions but also helps to preserve the original quality, stitchwork, and stories of the upcycled garments. 

Harsh chemicals are avoided and water conservation practices are used. 

Inclusivity:

Sizes tend to run on the smaller side, mostly XS-L and jeans 23”-30”.

Available: RE/DONE

3. GREEN MARKET VINTAGE

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Green Market Vintage #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Green Market Vintage
About Green Market Vintage

As a completely open market for crafty upcyclers and vintage purveyors alike, Etsy is arguably the best platform for zero waste clothing brands, black owned art shops, vintage home decor, and much more.

Green Market Vintage is but one of them.

The upcycled fashion brand began when owner Cheryl started to make vintage button bracelets for a school fair. 

Now, well over 5000 Etsy sales later, her offerings have expanded to blouses, dresses, fanny packs, overalls, and other handmade fashion pieces for women (and a few for kids).

Green Market Vintage’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Vintage garments from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and later make up most of the garments. Sometimes they’re embellished with other vintage pieces or scrap fabric.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Owner, designer, seamstress Cheryl does it all!

She sources the vintage garments both locally and globally, then makes all upcycled zero waste fashion pieces in her Santa Cruz home. 

Inclusivity:

Sizes vary for each item, mostly XS-XL, though there is a Plus Size range, too!

Available: Etsy

4. ZERO WASTE DANIEL

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by zero waste daniel #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by zero waste daniel
About zero waste daniel

This New York company believes “good design does not create waste”.

zero waste daniel was started by Daniel Silverstein, a zero waste lifestyle pioneer who takes advantage of New York’s leadership in the fashion world to use pre-consumer waste from the garment industry.  

You may have heard of his brand before—and not just because they’re the first company to successfully make 100% zero waste clothes.

They’ve been featured by the likes of The New York Times and Buzzfeed and have partnered with organic clothing brands like Pact and platforms for selling used clothes online like ThredUp

The brand’s gender neutral clothing line includes tops (shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc.), bottoms (joggers, sweatpants, etc.), and accessories.

zero waste daniel’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

In addition to left-over pieces, design room waste, and deadstock from NYC-based brands, Daniel also utilized hard-to-recycle materials and regenerated post-consumer plastic. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

The fair trade compliant Brooklyn workshop values human resources just as much as material ones:

“At zero waste daniel we believe that all resources (materials, people, energy, time and imagination) are valuable.”

Their labor practices are regularly scrutinized and you can join in by taking a look yourself with a studio tour.

Green business practices: 

In addition to making garments with 100% valuable materials that are kept out of landfills or incinerators, ZWD’s “ReRoll” technique stashes fabric scraps until they’re able to be used.

Everything is also made to order (so they’re definitely not producing waste) using a closed-loop production system that reuses water and solvents. 

You can get involved with their circular practices, too. Trade-in old ZWD garments for credit towards a new purchase through their BUY-BACK program.

Inclusivity:

Between XS-XXL sizes, garments designed for all bodies and all gender identities, and a diverse range of models, zero waste daniel may be zero waste, but they’re ALL inclusive. 

Community & charitable giving:

Doing even better to make a fashion statement that’s respectful and supportive, ZWD regularly supports social organizations like Black Lives Matter and Color of Change.

Available: zero waste daniel

5. Beyond Retro

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Beyond Retro #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Beyond Retro
About Beyond Retro

Go beyond boho with Beyond Retro

For decades, they’ve been a leader in repurposed vintage and rare designer pieces for both men and women. 

These self-proclaimed “data nerds” use real-time intelligence and proprietary cloud-based technology to sort through secondhand clothes and only provide vintage pieces that are relevant and timeless. 

Men and women can find a range of clothing including dresses, skirts, jeans, jackets, pants, shirts, sweatshirts, eco friendly sweatpants, and accessories.

Beyond Retro’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

In addition to the OG type of zero waste fashion (vintage clothes), Beyond Retro also has a Reworked Vintage label range, a growing selection of pieces crafted from reclaimed textiles. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

The process to make this zero waste clothing for men and women is worth elaborating on.

They call themselves hoarders because they take and process 93 million pounds of secondhand clothes every year (the equivalent of 60 Olympic size swimming pools worth!).

They sort the raw materials, then come up with designs.

Next comes cropping, chopping, and tapering to provide a modern update on an existing style. Even trims and hardware are put to another use when possible! 

Every step happens in the brand’s own factory in northwest India where workers experience a comfortable, safe factory and are paid fair trade wages. 

Green business practices:

The factory location was chosen because India is a mecca for clothing manufacturing and recycling.

They can collect everything they need through a small, local supply chain. Anything that isn’t used by the brand can be distributed locally to be recycled in another way. 

Using data, they’re able to determine trends far in advance, which means they won’t bring back styles that no one will appreciate (AKA those that will end up being worn once before being ditched).

Inclusivity: 

Given the vintage nature of the garments, sizing is varied.

They provide a helpful Sizing Guide, but expect to mostly see XS-XL for men and UK 6-20 (US 4-18) for women. They do have some plus-size items. 

Community & charitable giving:

In the brand’s brick-and-mortar Stockholm stores, the price tags serve another purpose. 

Because organ donors are astonishingly low in the country (just 15%), these price tags can be used to quickly and easily register.

After buying a garment, the Organ Donor Card can be torn off, filled out, and stored in a wallet so medics will know a donor is present.

Available: Beyond Retro

6. ARO

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Aro #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by ARO
About ARO

We’d love to shARO this brand with you, one of our favorite sustainable swimwear brands that support a healthy tan and planet—thanks to their use of recycled and upcycled materials. 

From beach-worthy bikinis to one-is-all-you’ll-ever-need one-pieces, their swimwear is so stylish you’ll have trouble picking just one. 

And because swimwear shouldn’t just be worn for a single pool party, ARO designs their pieces so they can also double as a cute top. 

ARO’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

ARO uses upcycled fabrics from other textile companies. When deadstock fibers aren’t enough, recycled fibers (like synthetic) are used to supplement them.

As swimming without stretchy spandex is nearly impossible, you’ll also see about 15% of it blended into the swimsuits.  

Supply chain & labor practices: 

ARO has an Indonesian manufacturing partner, but we’ve already reached out to dig up some more details about them. 

Green business practices: 

Going beyond zero waste sustainable clothing choices, ARO also uses compostable packaging—which will break down in 180 days in an industrial compost system. 

In 2018, their manufacturing partner implemented an employee recycling program and provided education about household waste management. 

Similarly, their manufacturing partner uses any scrap material to make much-needed reusable shopping bags after Indonesia’s recent ban on plastic bags. 

Inclusivity:

Everyone can swim in style because all ARO swimsuits are created for “all body types.” However, sizes only accommodate XS-L.

Available: ARO

7. TONLE

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by tonlé #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by tonlé
About tonlé

tonlé is a maker-led community committed to future-thinking fashion that’s “restorative, regenerative and just.”

They use what other brands consider waste to make it happen. 

Circularity and climate justice go hand in hand, and it can go on your body, too. Check out tonlé for women’s tops, dresses, jumpsuits, bottoms, outerwear, and accessories.

Or dress up your home with some eco-friendly home decor from their home goods section. 

tonlé’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

tonlé they came up with two approaches to zero waste fashion: using 100% of a given textile or using reclaimed materials to make garments. 

They’ve married the two by creating garments from larger pieces of reclaimed fabric and turning the small scraps into yarn for “new” fabric. 

If dye is needed, they use water-based textile inks and natural dyes.

All zippers and hardware are also factory cast-offs and their thread and buttons are locally-made thread. Zero waste and conscious down to the details!

Supply chain & labor practices: 

First, they source remnant markets (collections of pre-consumer textile waste from large garment factories). 

Garments are then manufactured in tonlé’s workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

They employ 30 people, all of whom receive fair wages, benefits, a vacation package, free lunch, team retreats, and training opportunities to rise into management positions. 

Everything is cut by hand to minimize any additional textile waste, but small amounts that do exist are mixed with recycled paper to create handmade paper. 

Other small scraps are sent to Weaves of Cambodia, a 20-person workshop that turns them into textile products in exchange for fair wages. 

Green business practices: 

Hands are used instead of machines, so all traditional patchwork, embroidery, and printing techniques not only preserve such skills but minimize impact. 

They use 100% recycled packaging and through their Open Closet, customers can return loved and worn tonlé garments to be recycled in exchange for store credit (another idea if you were wondering what do do with old clothes!).

Inclusivity:

Aware that the fashion industry (and the capitalist system it operates within) is rooted in colonialism, tonlé wants to help support those who often get left behind. 

Their workshop is designed to be inclusive and supportive. Everyone shares and learns skills, and mutual support is provided. 

When it comes to sizing, they have a size system that runs 3 inches larger than fast fashion companies (read: is designed to reflect normal people, not a human-sized Barbie doll).

Their sizes roughly encompass US sizes 0-26. 

Community & charitable giving:

Instead of establishing a brand ambassador program, they have the tonlé activist community. Activists don’t just encourage people to buy tonlé products. They participate in monthly calls-to-action, for which they’ll receive credit. 

Available: tonlé

8. THRIFT STORE

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Depop #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Depop

What’s one of the best ways to make zero waste clothing choices?

Hint: you’ve probably already done it!

Checking out your favorite local or online thrift store to turn one human’s trash into your new-to-you treasure. When we make use of discarded clothes, our planet feels treasured. 

If you want unique looks, affordable prices, and a way to shop sustainably, this is one of the best ways to do so. 

If you’re crafty, you might even use your thrifted finds to make your own upcycled garments! 

To get those zero waste fashion wheels turning, here are a few thrifting destinations to keep in mind:

  • thredUP: Another extremely popular thrift site that makes reselling easy and buying even easier thanks to professional garment vetting and pricing.
  • Poshmark: It’s hard to talk about online thrifting without mentioning one of the largest platforms. Millions of people use this social marketplace, so it’s safe to say you’ll find a treasure or two.
  • Patagonia Worn Wear: There’s no better way to wear zero waste fashion than in the great outdoors! If you’re in need of a gear or adventure-garb rehaul, Patagonia’s used section has both like-new and professionally repaired options.
  • Persephone Vintage: If you’re looking for high-end curated modern vintage pieces, this Etsy shop is worth checking out.
  • MAW Supply: This Black-owned Etsy store has a range of vintage clothing and accessories for men and women.
  • Depop: Depop can make you truly POP with their one-of-a-kind, festival-worthy garments.

9. FASHION RENTAL

Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by Onloan #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle
Image by Onloan

When it comes to zero waste fashion, fashion rental doesn’t have as many years under its belt as thrifting, but it plays an equally important role! 

How often do we buy an outfit for a special occasion and as much as we “plan” on wearing it again, it does nothing but collect dust in our closets?!

Sounds like the opposite of zero waste fashion, doesn’t it?

That’s where some of the best sites for clothing and dress rental online step in.

Perfect for those special occasions or simply trying out a new style, borrowing an outfit is one of the greenest ways to look good. 

For those who want to turn heads on a budget, there’s no more affordable way to wear high end designer brands, like Gucci and Versace.

  • Armoire: Armoire offers you a curated selection of styles once completing their quick style quiz. They have an algorithm that gets smarter at selecting styles you like as you rent more (like Netflix!).
  • Rent the Runway: Rent The Runway paved the way for many of these other rental sites to follow. You can search by category (like black-tie event, nighttime, daytime, etc.) and choose one-time rentals or a subscription.
  • Gwynnie Bee: With diverse styles, the ability to cater to any size and every body, and the option to purchase borrowed clothes at a discount, you’ll bee impressed with Gwynnie Bee.
  • Onloan: UK-based Onloan helps both you and independent designers. They provide their newest styles, Onloan provides the rental platform, and you get to try out new and unique clothes!

WHAT IS ZERO WASTE FASHION?

When you look at your closet, you likely don’t see waste. But waste happens at nearly every stage of that t-shirt’s journey.

In fact, there is nearly always excess fabric in the manufacture of any garment. In many fabric mills and factories, a wrong cut or tiny hole is likely to jeopardize the entire bolt of fabric

At the retail stage, fast fashion dictates stores adhere to artificial seasons and microseasons (52 to be exact, so every week or two, suddenly those garments are no longer “in”). 

And we’ve all heard about what happens when garments don’t sell. They head to a landfill or incinerator as quickly as something becomes “last season” (or rather “last week”).

If they do make it to your dresser drawers, they might be worn a handful of times, then chucked in the trash or donated. Even there, the chance of resale is slim (10-20% slim) so their ultimate destination becomes a landfill (or overseas recycling center) anyway.

That’s a lot of waste. 92 million tons of textile waste every year, to be exact. 

Simply put, zero waste fashion cuts down waste from one or all of these steps.

It could entail using waste from the supply chain (i.e. pre-consumer deadstock fabric). It could save the items from a hot and fiery fate (incineration) after not being sold by a big retailer. Or it could put secondhand garments to use by reselling or upcycling them into new products. 

Ultimately, it’s changing how we do fashion by valuing all the resources that go into our favorite clothes, employing practices of circularity, and not producing any material waste. 

It’s the way (fashion) forward. 


HOW WE FOUND ZERO WASTE CLOTHING BRANDS

Zero waste is an increasingly critical component of sustainable and ethical fashion

These brands show us that they can not only have a lower impact but zero impact…at least in terms of waste creation because the reality is, fashion will always have some degree of impact.

Materials: 

There’s a resounding NO for new fabrics in the zero waste fashion world (unless they’re utilizing sustainable fabrics). Instead, they utilize recycled fabrics, upcycled deadstock, or vintage garments.

As the cherry on top, we’re happy to see low-impact dyes prioritized. 

Supply chain and labor practices: 

Another aspect of textile waste has to do with all of the hands that are responsible for our clothes. Given situations of exploitation and worker abuse, it’s clear that the industry as a whole is wasting the talent of all of these individuals.

That’s why it’s great to see respect, fair wages, safe working conditions, and educational opportunities can also come from a fashion movement that doesn’t create waste! 

Green business practices: 

A brand could easily stamp UPCYCLED on one of their dresses and call it a day. But for these zero waste sustainable clothing brands, that obviously wasn’t an option. 

Instead, they use traditional machine-free techniques, closed-loop processes, small supply chains, and recyclable packaging to cut their waste even more. 

Inclusivity:

You know what’s a waste?

When you see a fashion brand only catering to a limited range of people. 

Traditional fashion is far from inclusive, which leaves out so many fashion lovers (and people who wear clothes :)). We believe zero waste fashion should be accessible and available to everyone.

Community & charitable giving: 

Most of these brands also support a community of concerned environmental and social justice warriors. Someone should give all these heroic brands red capes (made of deadstock fabric, of course)!


FINAL THOUGHTS ON ZERO WASTE CLOTHING

OMG, did you see what she’s wearing?!

It’s soooo zero waste. 

Buying from fast fashion alternatives is a great way to green up your get-up, but buying from zero waste fashion brands is an even better one. 

Why?

Because Gaia knows the fashion industry has plenty of waste to go around that can be turned into something stylish. 

We absolutely cannot wait until sustainability becomes the only trend we care about.

And it’s getting there, but it could use your help.

Talk up these brands, consider how you can employ some zero waste fashion practices, and share this article with any fellow fashionistas.


Fortunately, there are some good kids in the zero waste fashion world: Brands that are changing how we view fashion and using circular practices to keep valuable materials in use much, much longer Image by RE/DONE #zerowastefashion #sustainablejungle

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