As a designer in the sustainable fashion world, I try to keep a finger on the pulse of eco-fashion: fabrics, people, brands, everything.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of designers, and live in a world where peers are always talking eco.
Here are a few brands working to bring environmentally and socially-responsible clothing to market. They’re all contributing in their own ways (Made in the USA, organics, repurposed, the list goes on) and they’re all offering something different for mindful consumers.
Here are 10 brands I love.
Reformation uses surplus fabric to create original (super hot) designs in their own off-the-grid factory in LA. They’ve also started sourcing eco-fabrics, and upcycling vintage pieces. Most recently, the design team began adding styles for different body types.
2. Amour Vert
Self-proclaimed, “Paris chic meets Cali cool,” and Amour Vert is just that. They use zero-waste design philosophy, and their fabrics are a mix of organic and eco (dyed with low-impact dyes). All made in the USA.
After a half-million-dollar Kickstarter campaign to fund “the greatest hoodie ever made,” American Giant blew up in the e-commerce space. From fabric to manufacturing, they’ve created an entirely American line of hoodies, tees and casual-wear (men’s and women’s). The main focus is on a wholly-domestic supply chain, and ultimate durability.
4. Feral Childe
Feral Childe is the work of two designers: Alice Wu (Oakland) and Moriah Carlson (Brooklyn). Their strict ethical standards include use of natural fibers, upcycled fabrics, surplus fabric, vintage buttons, and low-impact and low-water-intensive dye processes. Everything is limited edition, and made in New York.
I especially love that after they have finished with a fabric, if there’s a little left over, they offer it to other independent designers for purchase. I connected with Feral Childe after they offered me their leftovers for my own work. It’s amazing that they’ve taken time to think through each step of the process, from beginning to end.
Nicole Bridger is a Vancouver-based designer with deep ties to the sustainable fashion world. Her interest in sustainability was piqued during an internship with Vivienne Westwood, and in 2006 she and Chip Wilson (Lululemon) founded Oqoqo, an eco-friendly branch of Lululemon.
Now Bridger is using renewable and, in many cases, biodegradable fabrics from all over the world, including wool made in a GOTS certified factory in India, organic cotton woven in Portugal and linen grown in Belgium.
Most of the line is produced in Vancouver, with about 10% produced fair-trade overseas.
Loomstate creates men’s and women’s casualwear using organic cotton. But their entire mission and focus is on the story of their organic cotton. Their mission states: “It’s about the health of the farmer growing the cotton, the health of her community, and all the communities who contribute to making the product.”
Most of the women’s styles are reversible as well, in a city-to-surf style.
7. Study NY
Study is an ethical contemporary womenswear brand produced in New York City using sustainable materials. Study’s founder, Tara St. James, is an active participant of the sustainble fashion world in New York, and I most recently saw her speak on a panel about waste in the fashion industry.
8. Carrie Parry
I met designer Carrie Parry for coffee in New York a few months ago, and she is absolutely incredible. Her USA-made brand has won several ethical fashion awards, including Ethical Fashion Forum’s 2011 Innovation USA Award. Carrie typically uses surplus fabrics to produce her styles in the New York Garment District, with a major focus on quality.
The Carrie Parry website says it best: “Sustainability to us is about meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
Indigenous has been around since the 1990s, and is an inspiration to many in the fashion world. Indigenous focuses on enriching artisan communities around the world through small-scale apparel manufacturing, using eco-friendly (natural) dye processes and fibers.
They carry men’s and women’s, and you’ll see lots of organic cottons here.
Lur clothing is made out of 100% recycled material. About half of the fiber content used consists of pre-consumer cotton scraps from commercial apparel and textile facilities, while the other half comes from post-consumer plastic bottles recycled into polyester fiber.
The really cool thing about Lur is that the colors in their clothing occur naturally, from the recycled cotton scraps in the fabric. This means that no harmful dyes are used, and the “finishing” process of the fabric uses 60-70% less energy than conventional fabrics.
Each of these companies has a different take on sustainability, but they all have one (awesome) thing in common: they’re pushing back against conventional fashion ideas, advancing social and eco causes, and bringing awareness to the everyday shopper.
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Editor: Travis May
Photos: Provided by author