If you’ve made the decision to shop ethically, there are a couple of things you should look for in a label. Firstly, if a company is legitimately a sustainable fashion brand, this will be clear from the label’s social feed and mission statement. If a brand is treating sustainability like an afterthought, or passing fad, chances are it’s not really an ethical and sustainable fashion label.
Secondly, check out where the clothes are manufactured—locally or overseas? If clothing is manufactured overseas, does the brand make a statement about how they treat their workers? Ethical and sustainable brands explicitly and transparently include messaging about how and where they source their fabrics and everything that goes into the manufacturing process—including worker compensation. These brands will also note if clothing is fair trade and artisan or hand made.
Thirdly, look for what types of fabrics these brands use. Sustainable fashion labels might use vintage or repurposed fabric or more environmentally responsible materials like linen, hemp, Tencel (lyocell), organic cotton, alpaca, and non-mulesed wool.
The following sustainable fashion labels make clear that their mission is ethical fashion that’s environmentally responsible and sourced to meet the above criteria.
Created in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation designs and manufacture the majority of their limited-edition collections in factory headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. According to their mission statement, they source sustainable fabrics and vintage garments “while incorporating better practices throughout our supply chain to make beautiful styles at a fraction of the environmental impact of conventional fashion.”
People Tree isn’t just a U.K., fashion label, it’s a fashion revolution. Known best for its fair trade certified collections, organic cotton collections, biodegradable materials, People Tree also started the #5LooksChallenge, where people create capsule collections of only five items: the goal here is to do more with less and prevent clothes ending up in landfills.
VAUTE Couture (“Haute” + V for Vegan) is the world’s first vegan fashion brand. Founded in 2008 by Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, who Conde Nast calls a “game-changer, embodying courage, creativity, and conviction,” VAUTE takes animals out of the fashion equation by using innovative, high-tech, sustainable textiles, cut and sewn in New York City’s garment district.
This New Zealand based company is ethical and organic, with fair trade fabrics. Their mission is to go from “seed to garment,” with as little waste of product and exploitation of labor as possible.
Los Angeles designer Shaina Mote crafts easy wear monochromatic pieces that evolve with the wearer through the years, which means these hand made (in the U.S.) garments are built-to-last.
ASOS Eco Edit is a collection of eco-friendly clothing, accessories, and beauty products, carefully curated to meet sustainable and ethical fashion needs. Find a wide-range of fashion and beauty that leave a faint carbon footprint.
Alternative Apparel’s factories operate in accordance with the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct. This label makes over 70 percent of their garments with sustainable materials and processes, and according to their mission, they are a certified Green Business in Los Angeles.
Like Reformation, YSTR uses “upcycled” or repurposed materials for all their garments. Each piece in this line is cut-to-order, manufactured by fairly paid staff in Los Angeles, and constructed to last.
Established in 2013 by Paola Masperi, Mayamiko is a collection of clothing, accessories ethically made in Malawi with design practices that include traditional African techniques. This label is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forums ‘Fellowship 500’ and supporters of the Fashion Revolution movement.
This lingerie brand is not only eco-friendly (practices include digital printing to all but eliminate water waste, and using materials made from recycled bottles) its mission is to help empower women. Through their Underwear for Hope program, Naja employs women in underdeveloped parts of the world and helps them become “micro-entrepreneurs.” Additionally, the company helps these women finance their education.