The Best Sustainable Clothing Brands For Women, Men And Kids – Forbes

the-best-sustainable-clothing-brands-for-women,-men-and-kids-–-forbes

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Thanks to an increased focus on climate change in mass culture, shopping for sustainable fashion has gotten a lot easier—but it still takes work. A brand may use organic fibers, for instance, but have little knowledge of labor practices in its supply chain. Or they could be paying a living wage to all workers, but be using non-renewable packaging and wasteful shipping practices. Is it enough for a brand to buy carbon offsets to be “sustainable,” or does it need to actively reduce at every step of the supply chain to earn the designation?
Frankly, the only sustainable shopping is less shopping. Our culture is one of over-consumption, and it’s devastating for the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems, as well as the low wage workers (mostly women) at every step of the apparel production process. But even the most stoic shopper will eventually need a new pair of underwear or jeans, and there are clothing companies working hard to make the dirty business of fashion a whole lot cleaner.

From fiber to fabric, labor to shipping, retail to packaging, no clothing brand gets everything right. But as a shopper, you can choose to support companies that put in the effort to match your own code of ethics, whatever they may be. In compiling this list, we considered three primary factors:

Materials: What are the clothes made of? Is the cotton organic? Is it certified by an outside party like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)? Is the polyester recycled? Can the brand prove it comes from post-consumer plastic? What dye methods and chemical treatments are used on fabrics? Is water use—and waste—considered?
Labor: Who makes the clothes? Are they paid a living wage? Do they get proper rest periods between shifts? What about health care? Can they unionize, or collectively bargain? Is the factory certified by a third party like Fairtrade International? Is there any shady sub-contracting going on?
Production: What is the environmental footprint of production? Is fabric waste considered? Is the supply chain all over the globe, requiring lots of freight? Do they use virgin plastic in their packaging? Have they taken efforts to integrate renewable energy in factories, stores or offices?

Below, you’ll find a list of the best sustainable clothing brands for women, men and kids. All price points, sizes and categories are represented, including activewear, denim, office clothes and basics like underwear and socks.

Los Angeles-based sustainable fashion brand Christy Dawn.
Christy Dawn

The Best Sustainable Clothing Brands For Women

Arden Linen Sleeveless Dress, $149
People Tree

People Tree
People Tree is a London-based women’s apparel brand. Delivery to the US costs £20 (about $28), but People Tree is a pioneer in sustainable fashion and remains one of the most considered brands in ethical apparel, so they’re on our list despite the shipping cost.
The brand has been making Fair Trade fashion since 1991, partnering with certified farmers and garment workers. In 2013 it became the first fashion brand to be certified by the World Fair Trade Organization. It’s also certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for its organic fabrics and chemical inputs like dyes, as well as PETA to guarantee an animal-free supply chain.

Hestia Dress, $598
Reformation

Reformation
Reformation is a Los Angeles-based fashion brand with a reputation for sexy, figure flattering clothes. What began as a small business of reworked vintage clothes in 2009 has grown to an expansive in-house collection spanning everything from intimates to wedding dresses made from low-impact materials and rescued deadstock fabric.
While the brand has been carbon, water and waste neutral since 2015, it is working to become climate positive by 2025, meaning investing in solutions that reduce more greenhouse gasses than the company emits, investing in renewable energy, and committing to sourcing 10% of its materials from regenerative fibers.

The Scarlet Dress, $238
Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn
Christy Dawn is a Los Angeles fashion brand with a relaxed but romantic feel. The label started with vintage-inspired dresses but has grown to include blouses, denim and even shoes. It also offers petite, plus and maternity-friendly styles.
The brand uses deadstock fabric—leftovers from other fashion companies that would go to waste—as well as organic cotton. In an effort to be not just sustainable but regenerative, Christy Dawn has launched a “farm-to-closet” initiative, working with regenerative cotton farmers whose practices include replenishing the soil. The first seeds planted for this project will come to fruition in a line of dresses launching in May 2021.

Thermal Wide Leg Pant, $138
Mate The Label

Mate The Label
Mate the Label is a Los Angeles casual clothing brand specializing in loungewear sets. Some of its bestsellers include thermal shirts, fleece sweatpants and Tencel sleep sets. It also makes activewear and offers extended sizes, up to 3X.
The brand uses primarily organic cotton in its products, as well as Tencel, linen and some conventional cotton. After the fiber is harvested, all production takes place within a ten mile radius in Los Angeles, from knitting yarns into fabric to cutting, sewing and dying. A localized supply chain cuts down on environmental impact compared to a supply chain that demands air or sea travel for multiple steps of the production process.

Paloma Bra, $38
Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective
Most activewear is made from synthetic polyester, which is derived from crude oil. The CFDA classifies virgin polyester as a conflict material due to the amount of global war fought over oil. And that’s to say nothing of the environmental effects of the fabric, which takes a ton of energy to produce and takes about 200 years to biodegrade.
Enter Girlfriend Collective, an activewear brand using recycled polyester from post-consumer water bottles as the base of its performance fabrics. Its collection includes workout essentials like sports bras and leggings, gender-neural sweats, outerwear and even a dress with built in shorts.

Sustainable fashion brand Outerknown.
Outerknown

The Best Sustainable Clothing Brands For Men

The Blanket Shirt, $148
Outerknown

Outerknown
Outerknown is a casual clothing brand founded by world surfing champion Kelly Slater in 2015. It offers a full range of apparel including T-shirts, sweaters, jeans and outerwear, plus surf trunks. Among the brand’s standout products are the S.E.A. Jeans, Blanket Shirt and the Apex Trunks.
Nearly all (90%) of the fibers sourced for Outerknown clothes are are organic, recycled or regenerated. It was the first brand to launch clothing made from Econyl, a nylon fiber regenerated from used fishing nets and other post-consumer waste. Its cotton is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard and it uses low impact non-toxic dyes in most products, limiting the amount of chemicals and water needed in production.

Aero Zero Carbon Neutral Shirt, $125
Ministry Of Supply

Ministry Of Supply
This meticulously engineered clothing brand got its start in the labs of MIT and prides itself on research-backed clothing, meaning they study things like body heat, odor and moisture to create fabrics and designs that anticipate movement and temperature regulation. Its lineup is geared toward the professional worker with offerings including dress shirts, chinos, blazers and suiting.
Its Aero Zero dress shirt is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and it is working to re-engineer its main product lines with 45—100% recycled content compositions depending on the style. Excess material from the production process is sent back to the fabric mill to be recycled into new fabrics.

Men’s Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Chore Coat, $149
Patagonia

Patagonia
Patagonia has been making environmentally-minded outdoor clothing since 1973. For nearly 50 years, it’s been a leading example of how a for-profit apparel company can do better by the planet.
According to its most recent environmental and social footprint report, 64% of its materials are made from recycled fibers. Since 1996, all of its non-recycled cotton has been farmed organically, cutting down on chemicals, water use and CO₂ emissions compared to conventional cotton. Most (82%) of its products are Fair Trade Certified sewn and an average of 35% of its apparel assembly factories are paying a living wage to workers, above the legal minimum.

Gritty Jackson Dry Super Blue, $185
Nudie Jeans

Nudie Jeans
Swedish denim and casual clothing brand Nudie knows that the most environmentally friendly way to dress would be avoiding clothes all together. Since 2001, the brand has endeavored to responsibly produce timeless garments that last, beginning with dry denim. Its jeans are still the hero product, but the label has expanded to include T-shirts, sweaters, outerwear and more.
93.8% of the fibers used in Nudies garments are cotton, all of which is organic, fair trade or recycled. The company has developed an in-house material tool to help its designers and product developers identify the sustainable and circular fibers with the goal of working with 100% sustainable materials.
Every pair of Nudie Jeans comes with a lifetime of free repairs, no matter when or where you bought them, in order to extend the life of the product. If a customer prefers to buy a new pair, they’re offered a discount by handing in an old pair of Nudies, which are repaired and resold. Denim that can’t be reworked are recycled and used as patches, new accessories or in the fiber blend for a new pair of jeans.

TK
Little Green Radicals

The Best Sustainable Clothing Brands For Kids

Mac Coveralls, $130
Jackalo

Jackalo
Jackalo is a kids clothing brand based in the Netherlands (but ships worldwide). It offers stylish clothes with clever reinforcements in areas that kids tend to wear through, like the knees and pockets. Styles are genderless and highlights include the Mac Coverall, Nickie Shorts and Billie Jacket.
Founder Marianna Sachse was frustrated with the short lifespan of her kids’ clothes, which were adding up to waste if she couldn’t salvage them or became a time suck if she had to repair them. In addition to supporting a culture of repair and reuse, the brand offers discounts to customers who send back their used Jackalo products for repair or up cycling.

Long Sleeve Jack + Jill Bodysuit, $20
Monica + Andy

Monica + Andy
Monica + Andy is a Chicago-based company making clothes and accessories for kids from newborn (including preemies) through eight years. Its lineup includes rompers and bodysuits for baby, pants and dresses for toddlers and jeans and jackets for kids.
The brand uses GOTS-certified organic cotton in its blankets and burp cloths as well as the majority of its garments. This is in part because of the environmental bone fides of organic cotton compared to conventional, but also because it’s better for little ones. Baby’s skin absorbs more of what it touches than adults, making the implications of pesticides, toxic dyes and harmful bleach even greater.

Footie, $30
Kyte Baby

Kyte Baby
Kyte Baby specializes in baby and toddler clothes and bedding made from bamboo, a hypoallergenic material. Among its offerings are temperature-regulated sleep bags, pajamas and blankets.
Founder Ying Liu was turned on to the fiber as a solution for one of her children, who suffered from chronic eczema and whose skin was irritated by many fabrics. Bamboo is three degrees cooler than cotton and non-irritating, making it perfect for the sensitive skin of little ones. It’s also a highly sustainable resource as it requires less time water to grow bamboo compared to cotton.

Waterproof Lined Recycled Raincoat, $68
Little Green Radicals

Little Green Radicals
Little Green Radicals is a London-based clothing label (which ships to the US) for babies, toddlers and kids up to eight years old. It offers a broad range of apparel from onesies and PJs to dresses and raincoats. It also offers a selection of home and wellbeing goods including plastic-free skincare and bedding.
Since its founding in 2005, Little Green Radicals has exclusively used cotton that is Fairtrade certified and GOTS certified organic. Its rainwear is made from recycled polyester derived from recycled water bottles. The brand has moved to plastic-free packaging, using 100% compostable bags made from corn starch and recycled wrapping paper (which is also recyclable).

Milwaukee Dress, $58
Winter Water Factory

Winter Water Factory
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Winter Water Factory is a design and manufacturing company specializing in screen printed textiles and organic kids’ clothing. Among its offerings for baby are rompers, hats and crib sheets. For kids, it makes pants, sweatshirts, dresses and more. Many styles feature bold, kid-friendly prints with animals and plants, all designed and screen printed in-house.
All Winter Water Factory clothes are made of organic cotton, which demands safer and more sustainable farming practices than conventional cotton. All items are manufactured in the United States, with much production done locally in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This keeps jobs in the U.S. while promoting ethical manufacturing practices like paying a living wage above the minimum wage and providing safe factory conditions. Producing domestically—and hyper locally—also cuts down on shipping, packaging and waste output.

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