Following up from our last blog about fast fashion companies to avoid, we thought it would be beneficial for you guys to know which ethical brands are out there and why you should consider them.
With sustainable fashion brands and eco-conscious lines popping up in stores and on our feeds these days, it’s not always clear who’s actually legit and who’s just greenwashing to look more sustainable than they are. However, there is a huge waste problem when it comes to fashion, an example being, buying one cotton shirt has the same impact as driving 35 miles in a car, Oxfam 2021. Sourcing organic, recycled, or regenerated, requires a far greater investment than the cheap textiles that make up the majority of our fast fashion clothing today, and it takes planning and goal setting over years to build responsible and ethical supply chains that have low environmental impact.
For us consumers, it’s easy to fall for greenwashing marketing schemes, with brands using misleading images, or only focusing on one “green” business practice whilst disgreading everything else, especially when they come from our favourite brands. But we can only change together. We have to clean up our acts and be the catalyst to propel the industry forward by educating ourselves and supporting genuinely ethical businesses striving for the same.
Use of materials
The simpler the fiber content, the better, so keep an eye out for natural, organic materials that use less water and don’t include pesticides or microplastics. Wool, silk, flax, hemp, linen, okra, and bamboo are all amazing alternatives to clothes made from nonbiodegradable materials such as polyester and nylon. Some brands, like Pangaia and Adidas, are also innovating new processes by pioneering the use of sustainably made materials from entirely new sources. An example being, T-shirts made from eucalyptus pulp and seaweed powder or puffer coats filled with dried flowers, and sneakers made from ocean plastic.
Commitment to the long-term mission
People should keep an eye on how ethical and involved brands are with sustainability.Are there any long-term goals, is it a one time publicity stunt, or greenwashing? If they seem to be in it for the long haul, try to find out what exactly they’re trying to achieve in terms of minimising waste, regenerative farming, or reducing emission. Also check to see how transparent they are by seeing if they have information for the public, thus allowing for accountability with the reports.
Garment workers are some of the most underpaid professionals around the world, so a brand’s vetting its contractors and subcontractors won’t just help create more sustainable practices across the board, it’ll also further eliminate sweatshops, child labor and unsafe working conditions for the people who produce the clothes you’re wearing right now.
There are a lot of third-party certifications out there for both materials and factory standard. A few of the most popular and globally recognised ones are GOTS, Certified B-Corp, and Fair Trade. Overall they are helpful to get a sense of how committed a brand is to sustainability in general.
Social media is the perfect vehicle to hold brands accountable, and in the last year we’ve seen millennial’s, Gen Z’ers, boldly calling out brands they felt were greenwashing or leaning into per-formative activism. Even still, the line between holding brands accountable and cancel culture is a fine one. The way a brand responds to these inquiries will tell you a lot about whether they’re worth your coin.
It’s not going to be easy and quick, things need to be put in place. More accountability needs to be taken and the fashion industry needs to separate itself from wasteful processes. Only consumers can demand change by thinking more consciously about their shopping. But don’t worry we got you, below we’ve compiled 5 ethical fashion companies when you need to buy and not Swop.
1. Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is a sustainable and ethical luxury womenswear and accessories designer brand from the UK that celebrates individuality and authenticity. The brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and ensures the payment of a living wage across some of its supply chain. Find most products in UK sizes 6 to 16.
GROUNDTRUTH, UK based , was conceived from 3 sisters’ shared belief in the power of collaboration, and their drive to protect people and nurture the planet. They are working towards the opportunity to design problem-solving travel goods that drive positive change: reducing plastic pollution and improving people’s lives.
Outerknown, California based lifestyle brand, committed to sustainability when it was founded in 2015 by creative director John Moore and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater. In 2020 the brand committed to achieving full circularity by 2030. The brand aims to create versatile wardrobe staples such as sweatshirts, jumpsuits, outerwear etc., that helps eliminate waste and pollution and empower the people who produce the clothing.
Patagonia’s say their product line is made with 64% of recycled materials right now, including recycled nylon, polyester, cotton, and cashmere. They go on to say “it’s moving toward 100% renewable and recycled raw materials.” The brand also says ”82% of its line is sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories around the world, ensuring workers are being paid liveable wages.”
5. Happy Earth
Happy Earth is built around protecting the planet. Certified as B Corp and 1% for the Planet member, the brand is held to the highest sustainable and ethical standards. They source organic materials, entices its customers to give back with every purchase and use recycled & recyclable packaging. With each ethically made garment from adventure-ready tee to hoodies, or a blanket, leggings , even accessories you can plant trees, combat the climate crisis, or remove trash from nature. Each program has humanitarian and environmental benefits, from providing additional food and income through forest gardens and reducing poverty too.
In 2021, there are a whole host of ethical and sustainable companies, some more ethical than others, we chose these 5 as we have had some experience with them in the past. But remember when looking for an ethical company, to research their commitment to sustainability, their wages and accountability and certification to see if they are truly working towards sustainability.