15 Ethical and Eco-Friendly Brands for Everyday Wear
If you've been following my blog the past few months, you'll notice a significant change in what I am choosing to promote. Instead of featuring something because it is cute or fits the color of the year, I wanted my impact as a blogger to have a greater reach.
Since returning from my trip to India in January, I have decided that from now on I would only shop at and promote companies that are 1) fair trade 2) making strides in sustainability or 3) have giveback programs.
With a million clothing brands out there, I found that I (as well as my readers, friends and family) did not have the time to sit down and research the beliefs of every company they shopped at. I wanted to make short, convenient lists of excellent brands that I found fit my values and I wanted to divide them up into categories.
To begin, here is my list of everyday wear brands:
Eileen Fisher: By tracking their miles and modes of transportation, the company has been able to cut their carbon footprint while also working with NativeEnergy to build windmills. They also create a majority of their texties out of organic fibers, recycled fibers and sustainable fibers such as hemp and Tencel. Also, by being bluesign certified, they have reduced their water usage by 25%.
Elegantees: A New York based company that is focused on rescuing sex-trafficking victims in Nepal. Their goal is to not only help these women get back on their feet financially, but they also help to restore confidence and self-image to the women who work for them.
Encircled: Happily calling themselves the antithesis of fast fashion, this travel-focused brand wants to make sure that your clothes keep well as you wander and that your conscience stays clear along the way. While having an eye for timeless style and being mindful about the textiles they use, Encircled also believes in the idea that eco-fashion can be chic. Their clothing is ethically made in Toronto, Canada.
Everlane: By having a personal relationship with every factory they work with, Everlane makes sure that the people who make their clothes are being treated fairly. Known for their stringent compliancy requirements, their goal is to ensure their products are guaranteed fair trade. By skipping brick and mortar expenses (they are fully online), they are also open about the price of their products. They tell their customers how much it cost to create their garment and the markup price associated with it in a regular retail setting.
GAP: They plan to reduce their carbon footprint 50 percent by 2020, they maintain their stance on making sure the water they use for dye processes does not ruin the water of local villages and with their PACE program (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) they are providing clean water and better opportunities to women worldwide.
H&M: The jury is still out on whether or not the Sweden based retailer is as elite as they claim to be in the realm of worker treatment, but one thing is for sure, Hennes and Mauritz has made great strides in the sustainability sector. From releasing a Conscious Exclusive Collection annually (made of environmentally friendly materials) to providing recycling bins for past pieces, H&M is showing signs of leaving the fast fashion realm.
Marks and Spencer: As one of the United Kingdom’s leading retailers, this company excels in more than just sales. Beginning with their Plan A program (started in 2007), they set out to complete 100 environmental commitments by 2012. After completing those, they have now come back with 100 more that they wish to accomplish within their company by 2020. Within the Plan A tab on their website, you can learn more about their global initiatives, where they source, as well as what is involved in their partnerships with farmers. To add to all of this, M&S also started the “Spark Something Good” campaign which benefits cancer victims by raising money and doing service projects.
Old Navy: Due to their association with the Gap Company, they are held to the same standards as are listed in GAP’s description above. In addition, when I was in India, I went to Orient Craft manufacturing where many Old Navy products are made. The building was well kept, the owners were friendly/treated the workers well and the workers were paid a livable wage.
People Tree: As one of the first companies with a fully transparent business model, People Tree works with artisans worldwide. They received the first ever World Fair Trade Organization ‘Fair Trade Product Mark’ in 2013. On top of that, People Tree uses 100% organically grown cotton which is azo-free so you don’t have to worry about what you’re putting on your skin!
Raven and Lily: With over 1,500 at-risk women working for their company, Raven and Lily believe that every woman, no matter their situation, deserves to get out of poverty and oppressive situations. As a Benefit Corporation company, they have committed to helping impoverished women improve their livelihood, abiding by eco-friendly practices in the sourcing of their materials as well as their design process, honoring traditional artisan crafts and techniques and donating back to their artisan communities for healthcare and educational needs.
Spoils of Wear: Based in Minnesota, this company is the epitome of fair trade fashion. Working with artisans, Jill Erickson (owner) works with local producers, organic textiles and brands who promote their ethical and sustainable qualities. Companies associated with Spoils of Wear include: Braintree Clothing, Coin 1804, LA Made, Loup, LVR, Mod Ref, Nation LTD, Plume and Thread, Synergy Clothing and many others. To learn more, there are company descriptions on each brand page located under their ‘Brands’ tab.
Stella McCartney: Even though she is the daughter of a Beatles original, this designer is more than just a musical heir. A lifelong vegetarian, McCartney does not use any fur or leather in her designs. She also uses only organic cotton, wind-powered energy and is continually cutting the use of PVC (the third most-used plastic polymer in the world) in order to reduce the waste left behind in her clothing once it is done being worn.
Target: Beginning in January 2015 with their Corporate Social Responsibility report, the family-friendly company set out to achieve 20 sustainability based goals by the end of the year. By the beginning of 2016, the company had exceeded over half of the goals they set out to complete and have continued to better their company since. They also are open about the vendors that they work with, providing customers with a list of their global factory partners (found on their sustainability page). Outside of the realm of clothing specifically, Target also donated over 1 billion dollars to childhood education in 2015.
Tribe Alive: Their moto “Made for women, made by women” is no joke. With artisans in Guatemala, Haiti, India, Honduras and Fort Worth, Texas; their aim is to help impoverished women become empowered women. Tribe Alive is so dedicated to knowing how their workers are being treated that all of their employees work on-location within studios around the globe.
True Ethic: This fully fair trade brand aims to promote artisan work from all over the world. When you purchase a True Ethic product, 10% of your purchase goes to Freedom Firm, an organization that rescues victims of sex-trafficking in India. They also work with Fair Trade or Social Entrepreneurship companies in an effort to provide clean water, education and a consistent job for all of the artisans who create their products.