five favorite sustainable & ethically-made brands
Putting more thought into my purchases.
Within the last two years — especially once I began working full-time — I've been making more of an effort into considering the impact of my fashion purchases. I stopped shopping at stores like Forever 21 years ago, after realizing that the clothes I bought there never held up. But when I did more digging, I began to realize just how harmful the fast-fashion industry is; both to its workers and to the environment.
Since then, I've been investing in products from brands that give back, whether it's by paying their factory workers a fair wage, using deadstock fabrics, or recycling waste into materials. While sustainable, ethical clothing can be more expensive than those from fast-fashion brands, I personally don't mind paying more for items when I know where they come from. Below, some of my favorite brands that practice what they preach.
I've been following Everlane since their early days, back when all they did was make t-shirts. I don't remember when I first discovered the brand, but I do remember it being on the tail end of high school. I loved their idea of transparency, and how they broke down the cost of their products for their customers. They also utilize their social accounts to take their customer behind the scenes, into the factories and into the processes that make their clothes. It's fascinating.
My first purchase was a red cashmere sweater in February last year, which I treated myself to as a Valentine's Day present. My Everlane wardrobe has grown exponentially over the last year. With Everlane's classic and clean silhouettes, I know I'll be wearing their designs for years to come.
While I technically haven't actually purchased anything from Ref (yet), it deserves a spot. Reformation makes new, vintage-inspired clothes from sustainable fibers — like modal, tencel, and viscose — and rescued deadstock fabrics. (If you're wondering what deadstock fabric is, it's a term applied to leftover fabric discarded from other brands and fashion houses.) They also stock one-of-a-kind vintage pieces from time to time. The coolest feature, though, is the stats for each piece; Reformation gives you a breakdown of environmental savings, i.e. how much carbon dioxide, water, and waste has been prevented from going out into the world. Neat, right?
Another brand I haven't had the chance to purchase from (again, yet), but I have definitely spent far too much time browsing their website. In a similar vein as Reformation, Christy Dawn uses deadstock fabric to make some of the most stunning dresses I have ever seen. Due to the nature of deadstock fabric — there's only a certain amount of it — many of Christy's dresses are limited edition. Sometimes, they can only make two or three dresses per acquired fabric. The company also ensures that all seamstresses are paid a competitive wage and receive health benefits. (Christy's employees are often featured on the brand's Instagram channel, too, so you can see who's actually creating and sewing the clothes.) Oh, and their dresses are all handmade in Los Angeles. It's truly a revolutionary brand, and I can't wait to see where they go in the next few years!
If you were perusing your social networks during and around November 2016, you may remember hearing about the "free leggings" that were taking the internet by storm. If you saw an ad, read an article, or heard about them through a friend, that was Girlfriend Collective's marketing strategy: give away their leggings for free, and all you had to do was pay the shippings costs. (Which was around $20, flat rate.)
Speaking from experience, the leggings definitely live up to the hype. But what makes Girlfriend Collective so groundbreaking is the material they chose in order to bring their collection to life: water bottles, or "post-consumer plastic waste." The plastic is converted into polyester, and then spun into yarn to create the garment. (You can read more about the process here.) And after their successful brand launch, Girlfriend has now expanded into sports bras, shorts, and variations of their cult-status leggings — available in gorgeous colors, too.
I love Outdoor Voices because they make activewear that isn't bright and flashy and neon. The entire OV collection is fairly-neutral toned, and they offer more fabric variations than Girlfriend Collective does. They're great for my intense workouts, but I'll wear my leggings around the house, too. Outdoor Voices also uses recycled polyester in their manufacturing, and works directly with their factories to maintain their ethical standards.
Any brands I missed? Let me know in the comments!