Sustainable Wears: 12 High Quality, Slow Fashion Brands

I want my closet to be an externalization of my internal beliefs. If you don’t believe in child labour and poor working conditions, if you fight for social justice in your country, how can you justify wearing a brand that exploits people in other countries? If you use a metal straw and are a diligent recycler, how can you shop at a store that abuses the environment through unsustainable practices?

I decided to start voting and speaking with my dollars several years ago and no longer patronize fast fashion brands. I haven’t shopped at H&M, ASOS, etc in years and I honestly don’t remember the last time I was in a Target or Walmart. These fast fashion superhouses have a revolving door of new trends, a concept in itself that I am not a fan of. The thought of these places gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’ve studied the ethics of fast fashion several times over, personally and in an academic setting. I’ve read and written papers about the harms of fast fashion brands since 2008. My college senior thesis was entitled The Importance of Authentic Interaction with Nature and over 40 of its pages were dedicated to dismantling the fast fashion companies we, as a society, seem to adore.

When researching chic and minimal brands in the early 2010s, Everlane came into my world like a breath of fresh air. I didn’t know there were brands out there actually doing what Everlane was doing, transparent pricing and a responsible business model. For several years I was naïve to any other brands with similar models. However, since then, I’ve met several other brands with high ethical values and am sharing them below.

 


 

Everlane

{California, USA based; they reveal their true cost to consumers and share detailed production information, including an option to view the factory}

Ethics utilizes radical transparency and ethical production processes
Product Line men’s & women’s attire, outerwear, accessories,  shoes
Size Range XXS–XL
Investment $$

 

Vetta

{made in the USA; utilizes a capsule wardrobe structure made of five pieces that translate into a month+ worth of looks}

Ethics utilizes deadstock or eco textiles (including buttons & elastic); ships in recycled packaging; ethical production practices
Product Line women’s attire, outwear
Size Range XS–XL
Investment $$

 

Christy Dawn

{Los Angeles, USA based; crafted from a woman’s perspective}

Ethics utilizes deadstock textiles; handmade pieces made in small batches
Product Line women’s attire, outerwear, maternity, bridal
Size Range XS–XL
Investment $$$

 

ABLE

{Tennesee, USA based company with production transpiring all over the world; ABLE hires women who have overcome extraordinary circumstances and ensure they are fairly paid}

Ethics B-Corp; Fair-Labour practices
Product Line women’s attire, accessories, shoes
Size Range XS–XL
Investment $-$$

 

United By Blue

{Pennsylvania, USA based; for each product sold United By Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans & waterways}

Ethics B-Corp; uses recycled & organic materials; champions environmental preservation
Product Line men’s & women’s attire, children’s attire, outerwear, accessories, pet accessories
Size Range XS–XL
Investment $$

 

Patagonia

{California, USA based; dedicated toward ethical production and created a denim production process that uses 84% less water, 30% less energy and emit 25% less CO2}

Ethics Fair Trade Certified; organic cotton; champions environmental sustainability
Product Line men’s & women’s attire, children’s attire; outwear, swimwear
Size Range XXS–XXL
Investment $$

 

Nisolo

{provides fair wages & full-time employment to their artisans; high-quality shoes that will last years, if not decades; also has an ethical marketplace that showcases other like-minded ethical brands}

Ethics Fair Trade Certified; transparent production practices
Product Line women’s & men’s shoes, accessories
Size Range women’s 6–10, men’s 8–13
Investment $$–$$$

 

Elizabeth Suzann

{Tennesee, USA based; minimalist styles with timeless silhouettes; a true embodiment of slow fashion}

Ethics made in USA; utilizes natural fibers; inclusive sizing
Product Line women’s
Size Range XXS-4X; offers petite & plus sizes
Investment $$$

 

Eileen Fisher

{New York, USA based; working toward 100% organic cotton & linen fibers, environmentally responsible dyes, carbon positive operations, and no-waste facilities by 2020; an industry leader in sustainable fashion}

Ethics Fair Trade Certified; utilizes sustainable materials & practices; inclusive sizing
Product Line women’s attire, accessories, shoes
Size Range XXS-3X; offers petite & plus sizes
Investment $$$

 

Hackwith Design House

{Minnesota, USA based; many products are made-to-order and intended to be year-round basics; perfect minimalist investment pieces}

Ethics made in USA; made to order; inclusive sizing
Product Line women’s attire, swimwear, accessories
Size Range XS–4X; offers plus sizes
Investment $$$

 

Reformation

{upcycled materials produced in a fair wage environment; each product comes with an outline of its environmental footprint; mainstream and trendier styles}

Ethics utilizes sustainable fabrics, offsets carbon emissions, pays living wages
Product Line women’s attire, outerwear, bridal
Size Range XXS-3X; offers plus sizes
Investment $$$

 

People Tree

{London, UK based; a pioneer in sustainable fashion and in the business for over 20 years; offering everything from work-wear to yoga-wear}

Ethics Fair Trade Certified; utilizes organic cotton and biodegradable materials
Product Line women’s attire, accessories
Size Range US 2-14
Investment $-$$

Tiny Closet: only buying from sustainable brands

 

Several weeks ago I wrote this post, highlighting my favorite slow fashion brands.  I’ve shopped at many of these brands for years, particularly Everlane, but only lately have I made sustainable brands my only clothing option. Up until now, I’ve still occasionally purchased and worn secondhand products from other brands, justifying it with the idea that I wasn’t directly supporting the brands if I wasn’t buying directly from them.

However, in looking down at my outfit right now, I’m finding that more and more I’m only wearing sustainable brands. Not only are these slow fashion brands filled with good karma, but they also are built to last. They are employing artisans around the world with responsible production practices, and they are worth my financial investment. I’m also finding that this shift in purchasing has led to a shift in style. In the frighteningly cold NYC winter I’m gravitating toward my cozy babaà knits, handknit bandana scarf, and wool fisherman’s cap inherited from my granddad. Each piece is meaningful to me, intrinsically special. Each piece is also timeless: the sweater is nearly 10 years old, the bandana knit in the late 90s, and the cap purchased in Greece while my granddad was in the Navy in the 1950s.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the consumeristic world we live in,  particularly with the glamorous fashion bloggers that post an outfit daily,  dressed head to toe in brand new pieces. But what I’m working on is the ability to shop my closet and be to be flexible in the look I’m going for. Those two skills,  once cultivated, will keep me on the journey started about a month ago.

Tiny Closet: wintry outerwear

 

I have never owned a big, down parka.

Developing a minimalist wardrobe means being cautious with what comes into my closet and how it can be used and stored. A big, bulky parka only used for two to three months of the year hasn’t made the cut yet, but after spending December 2018 to March 2019 frozen in NYC’s winter I knew that I needed to step it up this season.

High-quality options are notoriously expensive and for several years my college-self couldn’t even begin to fathom how I would spend several hundred on a coat when I could barely afford rent. Now that the investment is an option for me (thank you 2019 bonus check!) I’m looking for a coat that will last and last.

Obviously, it needs to be warm in weather as cold as 10 degrees (about as cold as NYC gets), but it should also be resistant to wind and water. Personally, I’d also like it to be filled with Primaloft or another synthetic insulate. While I’m interested in the look of Canada Goose I’m not a fan of their sourcing (particularly how they trap wild coyotes), goose down fill, or their price tag. I’ll be on the lookout for something with similar lines, a slight military feel, but made with more sustainable practices.

A parka should also be classic. It’s the purchase once product so classic flattering lines are essential. There’s no space for a trendy parka in my closet, style and color. I may deviate from my classic black coat to a camel color, but that’s a big maybe.

 

 

This one has beautiful lines and flattering stitching.

I’m very drawn to the hood on this military-style coat and its chestnut color.

Made with recycled nylon and available in a range of sizes, XXS-XL, women, petite, and plus, this one is the most inclusive.

It’s impossible to walk two blocks in Mid-town without seeing several of this coat, made of 60 water bottles. 

There are so many to choose from!

 

***

 

Update: I chose this beauty from Everlane for both is sustainability and classic silhouette.

Sustainable Wears: LOU & GREY

When I’m traveling I like to stay comfy, when I’m working I like to stay comfy, when I’m living my life I like to stay comfy. (I’m guessing you do too). But the flip-side of the comfy coin is that occasionally comfy starts to look sloppy and there are several places where you don’t want to look sloppy, namely: traveling, working, living your life.

I’ve also found that many brands that cater to the chic and still travel-friendly vibe are typically at a massive price point. This is why I absolutely love Lou & Grey.

Lou & Grey is the perfect intersection of comfy, high quality, and chic style that won’t break the bank.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Marled Blouson Top

Strappy Racerback Jumpsuit

Fluid Halter Dress

Apprvl NYC Large Rope Tote

Fluid Drawstring Top

Striped Cami Romper

Sustainable Wears: EVERLANE

Timeless, high quality, modern pieces that last through trends and tons of wear. Founded on the principles of quality, ethics, and transparency Everlane is showing that in the world of “fast fashion” investing in your wardrobe can be the right move.

 

At Everlane, we want the right choice to be as easy as putting on a great T-shirt. That’s why we partner with the best, ethical factories around the world. Source only the finest materials. And share those stories with you—down to the true cost of every product we make. It’s a new way of doing things. We call it Radical Transparency.

 

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Modern Boyfriend Jean | $68

 

The Denim Skirt | $58

 

The Modern Loafer | $168

 

The High-Rise Skinny Jean (Ankle) | $68

 

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF EVERLANE.COM

 

My Take On Trends That Go Out of Style

Trends change faster than the weather, but we don’t all have the bank accounts to survive a revolving door wardrobe. And why should we want to? I love diving into Vogue and streaming the #NYFW runway shows, but what I’ve found is that while trends change, style never goes of season. Finding the style that works for you and your body is one of the best feelings and if it works, why change it?

f33d72c74a25ff97c2f584ad7dba9769

Style is a classic look. Something that makes you look and feel fantastic because it compliments you, your body type, and who you are (your personal style). One of my favorite Youtuber’s, Justine Leconte, has several videos about how to dress for your body and can be a great resource when beginning to build out your wardrobe or identifying your body type.

Trends are importantly different than style. They change seasonally and keeping up can make your head spin. The sheer volume of new lines and trends that roll out at every #fashionweek is monumental, but don’t feel overwhelmed! Treat trends as a way to test drive new pieces or silhouettes you wouldn’t normally include in your repertoire. It’ll save you $ and embarrassing photos from when you thought the “dad sneaker” was necessary.

Remember, you are wearing the clothes, they should not be wearing you. If you don’t feel comfortable, confident, and know you look amazing then chances are the clothes are wearing you! Trying something new and out of the box can be a scary moment, but knowing that you are dressing yourself according to your own style and body type can be the encouragement needed to try something daring. EX: When I wore denim on denim and found out that it is the most me look there is.

“I know that’s such a cliché to say, but I think it’s so true. I don’t care about a trend. If something is super-hot that season, but it looks hideous on me — I want to be able to look back in 10 years and think, Oh, I looked appropriate and I looked good, and hopefully classic. So don’t be a slave to a trend.” -Tan France

Building a strong wardrobe, full of pieces that flatter your shape and personal style, can be a lifelong mission. It can take years of skimming racks, diving through bargain bins, and (my personal favorite) perusing thrift stores to find the pieces that make you you! But using seasonal trends as moments to check out new styles and then selecting the best to compliment you is a great way to build out your wardrobe while savings yourself from the bottomless pit of the “fashion cycle”.

Clothes are a way to embrace and express who you are. Don’t feel pressured to fit the mold of the latest “trend”, because if it isn’t working for you, it doesn’t work.