Jan 28, 2020

Top 5 Sustainable Fashion Brands To Check Out This Year

The cost behind that cheap t-shirt you found at the mall is greater than you think. Fast fashion retailers have harmful practices that exploit their workers, the environment and the consumer. Sustainable brands want to end these toxic business models by selling high quality and ethically made fashion. Sustainable fashion is when brands take environmental and social impacts into consideration when creating their product. They’ll make genuine efforts and do things like lower their water consumption, treat their workers well and limit their carbon footprint compared to the average retailer. Here are five fashion brands you can check out for a guilt-free shopping experience.


  • Trends come and go, but anything sold at Aritzia can be worn for decades. This Canadian brand releases timeless collections that won’t have you regretting a purchase by the time another fashion fad rolls around. 

    Their clothes are largely made up of quality materials such as viscose, modal and lyocell. These materials come from forests that Aritzia could easily source from endangered or ancient forests. Instead, they work with ethical suppliers and a non-profit organization called Canopy to promote sustainable usage of these resources. The company’s other conscious efforts include using organic cotton for their denim, responsibly-sourced goose down and selling animal-free products.

  • If you’re someone who wants to wear the latest trends without hurting the environment, then Reformation is a great option. This company has a quick turnover — they can turn a sketch into a wearable item in just one month, delivering their customers with current styles and silhouettes. Fast fashion brands do the same thing, but at worse quality and without the ethical practices that Reformation produces.

    Reformation abides by a number of sustainability factors you might not think about. Their clothes are 75 percent composed of eco-friendly materials such as recycled cotton, organic linen and yarns from old fabric. Another material used is TENCEL Lyocell, a semi-synthetic fiber that uses 80 percent less water and 80 percent less land to produce than newly grown cotton would.

  • Jeans aren’t just one of the most versatile fashions that everyone wears — they’re also one of the most harmful pieces that fashion can have on the environment. The numbers vary, but it takes thousands of liters to produce one pair of jeans and 11 million tons of textiles end up in landfills each year. Levi’s is trying to break this unethical cycle by adopting  environmentally conscious methods and building a product that will last.

    Customers can limit the amount of water they use to maintain Levi’s jeans because of the product’s  high quality. The company promotes sustainable maintenance and encourages customers to air out their jeans rather than washing them after each use. They say that by washing jeans once every 10 wears, this will reduce the energy use and water intake by up to 80 percent. They’re long-lasting and you’ll never have to worry about jeans going out of style.

  • Beauty, craftsmanship and responsible production are all parts of Zimmermann’s sustainability statement. The fur-free, high end ethical brand sells women and kid’s clothing. Their clothes are designed for durability and longevity, with timeless designs that can always be worn among the latest trends. 

    Lowering their water footprint is a priority for Zimmermann. Instead of screen printing their fabrics, they use digital printers which use about 60 percent less water. In 2018, the company recycled more than 48 percent of water used in their production cycle. Even the hangers they use in retail stores are made from sustainably sourced wooden materials, showing their commitment to fashion and lowering their eco footprint are an equal priority.

  • Everlane is a men and women’s retailer that prides itself on “radical transparency”. This means that anyone shopping on the Everlane website will be informed on information most retailers try to hide, like the factory where items are made and the cost breakdown. 

    On any given item, shoppers can see how much money was spent on the materials, hardware, labor, duties and transport of that item. Their prices are affordable as far as sustainable retailers go, since they only mark up their products two to three  times compared to traditional retailers. 

    One of the fashion industry’s biggest criticisms involves unethical practices of factory workers, which often involves child labor. That mistreatment is erased with Everlane because with each product listed on the website, you can click and read about the factory it was built in. From Southern Vietnam, to Italy, to Los Angeles and beyond, consumers can read up on the factory’s background and get to know the faces behind their clothing.

  • Vagabond Shoemakers is a European company that’s committed to making high quality shoes with low environmental impacts. Their prices are comparable to other shoe retailers, but they include the added perk of more sustainable values.

    In 2018, the company shifted towards a greener movement with plans to reduce their CO2 emissions by 50 percent. Their “close the loop” approach is a conscious effort to minimize waste and encourage customers to bring in old shoes so the materials can be properly reused.

  • If you see a cheaply priced item at a fast fashion retailer that seems too good to be true, then it probably is. You might be able to buy it at a low cost, but the real price has already been made on the environment, its factory workers and the quality of the product. 

    By investing in sustainably made clothes (and supporting thrift stores), it will send a message to brands that ethical fashion is in demand. Before shopping at your favorite store, look into their business practices and see if they’re making an effort to minimize their negative impact. You can also find plenty of other sustainable fashion brands that will cater to your budget and personal style.

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