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 $-$$

On My Mind: releasing past patterns

 

I’ve always been a things person. I like things, I surround myself with them and growing up in a large home in the country facilitated this. I grew up on over 10 acres of land, consistently surrounded by both nature and things. There’s a comfortability in it. I’m used to seeing a full basement of bits and bobs that my dad could use to solve any problem around the house. Or a full closet of treasures and memories that my mom could assemble into a last-minute Halloween costume, fix a busted seam, or turn into a new game.

At some point, I began to equate things with capability and comfortability. Things became a toolbox that I could use to solve my little problems here and there. Getting rid of them meant that I may need to repurchase in the future.

Moving to NYC a year ago begged me to reconsider this collecting mentality. I simply don’t have space. I cut my closet in half and was still bursting. I take up 2/3 of the closet shared with a partner (his patience with me continues to have limits I’ve yet to find) and have drawers stuffed with tees, tanks, bits and bobs. I’ve tried to move things here and there, reorganize, to no avail. I Marie Kondo’ed my home and still see the dreaded things everywhere. There’s only so much organizing can do for you when your home is bursting at the seams. I’ve decided that a sincere slim-down is in order. My closet, my home, the entire ASH is on a little diet.

This isn’t intended to be a New Year’s Resolution (as I truly don’t believe in them, which you can read about here) but there’s something about the end of a year — end of a decade — that begs us to reconsider decisions or lack thereof. I’ve managed to justify my consumerist behavior with the fact that I resell and donate my old bits, or hidden it underlayers of support for other global issues. “Maybe I over-shop, but I don’t use single-use plastic.” As if one can balance the other?

It can feel like living ethically is walking a tightrope, always someone to offend or some small action you’ve done incorrectly. I’ve watched people online be ripped apart in posts supporting a marginalized group with comments like “what about this group?” or “if you really believe that you wouldn’t have done X”. People make mistakes, grow, and learn, but the internet doesn’t like us to do that. We are constantly recorded and past actions held up like exhibits in a courtroom, by armchair social justice advocates. Even if you are looking to do the right thing, and move forward.

That being said, the fear of failure has never been something to hold me back from being boldly audacious in my goals. So a closet slim-down, swapping quantity for quality, is a movement I’m happy to take part in. There are a few things I have at the top of my to-do list.

 

take my grandfather’s old coat to a tailor to make it wearable for me.

investigate my tee shirt collection and aim to donate anything unworn in the past year.

take inventory of the storage closet & shelves.

slim down the storage unit, move the bikes into the apartment, and close the lease.

 

One by one I plan to cross them off and create a very different situation at ASH.

In My Home: Organizing a Small Space

 

Organizing your home is a dreaded task. Sometimes you come in from work and just throw clothes on the floor, bags on your desk and keys all over the place. It’s easy to do. Your desk might be organization heaven, but your home may suffer because you’re putting it off.

 

Luckily there are a few organization tips you’ll want to start right now…

 

 

Get Strategic

First thing’s first: Come up with a step by step list of what you want to organize. Bathroom vanity? Kitchen cabinet? Having this list will not only show you what needs to be done, but also helps convert a huge project into approachable tasks. This way you aren’t actually doing any tidying, just planning to tidy. Which is different.

 

Move Smallest To Largest

I find the bathroom to be the easiest place to organize because it typically is the smallest room in the house. So here’s what to do, set aside a block of 30 minutes and tackle the smallest task first. Pick up those clothes and fold them, stack your notebooks, put your pens back into the pot, fold your towels. Ta da. Then stop, do something else. You’ve already made progress.

 

Purchase Organizational Pieces

What motivates me to organize? Looking at photos of other beautifully organized homes, of course. But also, you should examine which organizational pieces you already have. Do you buy a new pair of shoes every week? Consider picking up a shoe rack. Having organizational pieces doesn’t keep you organized unless they are working for you so do some sleuthing, find what pieces you need and customize a shopping list for yourself.

 

Categorize and Start From Scratch

When I’m organizing I love to start with a blank slate. I remove every single thing in an area (bookcase, closet, etc) and divide items up into three categories: Keep, Move, Toss. “Keep” is everything that belongs in that space. “Move” is items that belong in a different area. And “Toss” is for everything that it’s time to let go of.

 

Let Go

We accumulate a lot of stuff in our lifetimes, from those gifts you meant to return to participation trophies from sixth grade, it’s easy to get bogged down year after year. When you make moves to organize consider minimizing your life a little. Sift through items carefully, ask yourself “When was the last time I really used this? Do I really need it?”

 

Organization is all about finding what works for you! Some people like to work a few minutes every day while other people, like me, are down for the three-hour organizing gauntlet. Find your rhythm and stick with it!

 

*This article was originally written for and published on Career Girl Daily. Visit the original post here.*