Best sustainable clothing brands 2021: 40 ethical fashion lines3 min read
Dress for success this year — for yourself and for the future of the planet.
Fast fashion is fun, but it’s time to slow it down and really consider the environment when shopping for new clothes and accessories. With so many sustainable and eco-friendly brands flooding the market, it’s not hard to budget for the health of the eco-system while you shop. But, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
“Ethical” and “sustainable” can be confusing terms, as they mean different things for different brands and shoppers. To put it simply, sustainable practices may involve making the dyes from eco-friendly materials that are chemical-free, using renewable energy in the production process, using durable fabrics so clothing lasts as long as possible and recycling old materials like scrap fabric and even plastic bottles into new garments. Basically, the less harm to the planet, the better.
From single-origin cashmere sweaters to fully recycled shoes and accessories, you can rock responsible outfits, head-to-toe, no matter your style or price range. Take a look at the top 40 brands for her, him and anyone who values Mother Nature every fashion season of the year.
Best for women’s clothing
Cozy cashmere that has less of an environmental impact than other brands, with the same softness? Count us in, Cuyana.
The sustainable brand has three principles to make being eco-friendly as easy as possible. They produce responsibly, maximize wear time with high-quality products and extend the life of your cashmere with a donation program and a resale platform.
Check out their collection, which starts with sweaters and tops, but spans an entire wardrobe with clothing, pajamas, small leather goods, accessories and more. Prices are reasonable, with most tees and pants going for under $50 and higher-end cashmere sweaters and capes run between $100 and $300.
If you’ve been shopping fast fashion, here is a better eco-friendly alternative.
Alternative Apparel carries a huge stock of comfortable and fashionable items, including tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories. The women’s line of Alternative Eco puts even more of an emphasis on sustainability, as well as softness.
Their promise is simple: to use the best materials for the planet and produce them in sustainable and responsible ways for the planet and the workers behind the scenes and seams of your items. Using recycled materials like heavy-weight cotton and hemp-blend jersey, clothes remain soft and durable, and a majority of their factories are WRAP-certified, adhering to the Fair Labor Association guidelines every step of the way.
H&M’s dedicated line of organic and sustainable clothing has you covered if you want an easy and affordable way to transform your closet into an eco-friendly one.
From basic tops and pants to pajamas and even denim, the collection covered pretty much everything you should need for the ultimate capsule wardrobe that won’t go out of style and end up in a landfill. With sweaters at just $19.99 and denim starting at $29.99, being conscious of the environment and your wallet can be one and the same.
The most sustainable fashion is to be naked, but this is second best.
NA-KD is a great brand for all your fashion needs, selling women’s clothing, outerwear and accessories on a mission to better the planet. The company has come a long way but recognizes the work isn’t over until they are fully sustainable. With goals to become fully climate neutral by 2025, they also aim to use only 100% organically grown cotton in all NA‑KD denim products by this year and make sure everything from the supply chain and production to shipping and clothing care are fully transparent and eco-friendly.
Once you find out there’s a sustainable swimwear company, you’ll be doing somersaults, too.
Summersalt sells swimwear made from 78% recycled polyamide, made from post-consumer materials and nylon waste pulled from the oceans that you’ll soon be swimming in. Aside from suits, the brand also sells activewear and other clothing, made from other sustainable materials like their TENCEL, TENCEL Modal and Cupro fabrics. Their packaging is also recycled, shipped out in poly bags and shipping mailers that double as return packaging to limit waste.
These jeans won’t burn a hole in your pocket or in the ozone layer, using eco-friendly practices and pricing the pants at reasonable rates.
“Boyish is a sustainable women’s denim line focused on quality, fit and authentic washes. Boyish Jeans will remind you of your favorite pair, but the modern details and laid-back California aesthetic feel refreshingly new. The price point is unbelievably friendly. Try not buying them in multiples,” reads the website.
The company uses non-toxic and plant-based dyes on every pair of jeans, protecting the water supply and conserving water in the production process as well. They also use recycled and strictly vegan materials, hunting for deadstock fabrics to reuse whenever possible.
Theory Good Collection
We have a theory you’ll love this collection of workwear and staples that are as fashionable as they are environmentally conscious.
Theory released a line of eco-friendly options, called the Good Collection, which spans responsibly woven wool pieces, basics made with recycled fabrics in textile mils with sustainable manufacturing and a Good Cotton collection with American-grown SUPIMA cotton. The company’s goal is to make their signature fabrics 100% traceable by 2025, and are currently focusing on their wool, cotton and linen production to ensure their quality, traceability and are all ethically grown.
Want to back a company that is working to be 100% sustainable while giving back 90% of its profits to charity?
“We share 90% of our distributed profits between charitable causes and those who make our collection happen. Then we invite you to vote for your chosen cause using the unique code found in your garment’s care label,” explains the site.
Not only do they give back to charities like BRAC, Children’s Hope, Wild Aid and more, they are also on an eco-friendly mission to give back to the environment, too. They use planet-friendly fabrics, best-practice working environments across the supply chain and even have a whole collection of clothing made from samplings and leftover fabric from previous collections, appropriately called Waste Not.
Best for men’s clothing
Clothing is an essential item, but the number of pieces we acquire and how we source it can be made as sustainable as possible with help from the team at Asket.
The men’s brand is focused on the “less is more” mantra, producing only the best quality items that last, reducing the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills each year. In this pursuit, the brand makes items that work for all seasons, investing in craftsmanship and partnering with responsible mills and manufacturers to get the job done.
The shop has basics like T-shirts and slacks, as well as outerwear and even underwear to keep you shopping sustainably from head to toe.
No, you aren’t seeing double. We listed this brand for women’s clothing, but their vast offerings for men’s clothing and accessories is so great, it deserves a mention of its own.
From Alternative Apparel, the men’s section of the Alternative Eco collection has everything you need to stay comfy and considerate this year. The collection has shirts, pants, pajamas, hoodies and more, all made with organic cotton and hemp-based fabrics. The prices are also sustainable making eco-friendly fashions affordable for all. Shirts start at just $28, while sweatshirts go for $40 and up.
Let’s make a pact: you shop stainable and Pact will provide you with fashionable looks for all your clothing needs.
Pact is a great option for men’s items, offering organic cotton clothing made in a fair trade factory. Starting with boxers for only $14, continue dressing well in $30 crewneck shirts and $29 hoodies.
Aside from using organic materials and good labor practices, they also offer carbon offset shipping and returns, recycled packaging and even have a donation program for old items you no longer want.
Warp + Weft
Denim has never looked so good, or so clean for that matter.
The team at Warp + Weft is on a mission to be the world’s cleanest vertically-integrated denim company, to give back to the environment and provide men with the best jeans possible. The family-owned company uses an eco-friendly mill, which happens to be one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers. They conserve water and use environmentally conscious materials and practices while keeping prices accessible.
“A traditional pair of jeans consumes 1,500 gallons of H2O, but a pair of Warps requires less than 10 gallons, and we recycle and treat 98% of the water we do use. Cutting-edge Dry Ozone technology — alternate to chemical bleach — also helps us do better by the planet,” reads the site.
Don’t know of a sustainable brand for shirts, jeans and accessories that fit his style? Know you’re in the know.
Outerknown is focused on sustainability and has been making strides in how they are achieving their goals for the planet. As of now, their men’s trunks are made with 100% recycled or renewable fibers, use ECONYL fabrics made of recycled fishing nets and aim to get their 90% recycled, organic or regenerated fabric usage to up 100%.
Check them out for trunks, but don’t stop there, as they also sell jeans, outerwear, shoes and accessories.
Best for activewear
Wolven is here to take your yoga pants, leggings, sports bras and more to the next level, using BPA-free water bottles and turning them into activewear made to last.
The brand carries a wide variety of leggings, which happen to be an NYPost favorite for both the waistband and pockets, as well as other essentials like sports bras, yoga pants, loungewear and even items for him, like joggers, boardshorts and tees.
In terms of sustainability, look no further than their site to find out how they turn 27 bottles into each pair of leggings, use carbon neutral modal and recycled PET fabrics and use 100% recycled poly mailers or bio-degradable paper boxes to ship your new favorite activewear.
Another NYPost favorite brand for best workout leggings, they are also the Earth’s favorite due to the focus on sustainability.
Carrying both men’s and women’s activewear, Outdoor Voices wants to take care of the planet we work out in, focusing on longevity and circularity. To put it simply, OV uses recycled fabrics like RecPoly, Merino and recycled wool and CloudKnit, but also puts an emphasis on quality so clothing lasts and doesn’t end up in landfills. Circularity refers to this as well, extending the life of an item by reusing the fabric, repairing it, or recirculating it to other consumers.
Like its tagline says, Prana aims to be “clothing for positive change,” and they are off to a great start.
The sustainable outdoor and activewear brand focuses on a number of eco-friendly practices, all detailed on their site. They use organic cotton, recycled wool and responsibly-sourced down, as well as engage in fair trade certified practices and work with Bluesign technology to keep the ocean and air free of harmful chemicals.
The company sells clothing for yoga and working out, and also has collections for hiking, climbing, swimming and travel, in both men’s and women’s styles.
MATE The Label
Feel free to sweat to your heart’s content during your workout knowing your activewear is clean.
Made sustainably in Los Angles, MATE The Label has a new activewear line called MOVE by MATE. Each item, from leggings to sports bras, is made with organic cotton stretch material. In fact, everything at MATE is made using sustainable practices. The cotton they use takes 87% less water than conventionally grown cotton and emits 45% fewer greenhouse gases, according to their site, which also has their fully transparent 2020 Impact Report, detailing their practices and goals for the future.
Get back to basics with this environmentally focused activewear company.
Organic Basics active collection uses their SilverTech fabric, which is actually made from real silver and blended with organic cotton to make a fabric that is odor-controlling, heat-regulating and super soft — all things that are beloved in any workout gear. Other practices include using only Class A and B fibers which are natural, renewable, recycled, biodegradable and or low-impact and partnering with factories that use fair labor practices.
Make sure to check out both the men’s and women’s line of activewear, including leggings, bras, boxers, tights and more.
Best for shoes
Put your self in someone else’s shoes, or really into the world’s shoes.
Allbirds are the eco-friendly option when it comes to sneakers and running shoes. The company uses a wide variety of materials that have a tiny impact on the climate, like superfine merino wool, recycled bottles, castor bean oil and even TrinoXO, which is made of discarded snow crab shells and naturally fights odor.
They sell both men’s and women’s shoes, as well as apparel and even accessories like face masks and extra laces and insoles.
Buy one pair of sneakers and plant two trees: This is the kind of BOGO we can get behind.
The Brazilian company Cariuma is focused on saving the forest one pair of shoes at a time, planting two trees in Brazil’s rainforest with each sale to combat deforestation. That’s not all, as they also use leftover rubber from making a pair of shoes in the next pair to ensure nothing goes to waste, and are currently working to do that same with their canvas and cotton waste.
The men’s and women’s styles are timeless and built to last, coming in low-tops, high-tops and even skater style shoes in classic colors and patterns.
Slip into something more comfortable this year, and better for the Earth as an added bonus.
Rothy’s makes machine-washable shoes from planet-friendly materials, making for longer wear and fewer landfills. The shoes use a combination of recycled plastic bottles, marine plastics collected from the coastline and machine-washable merino wool.
Since you can wash them again and again on cold, your shoes will outlive basic flats, and come in a variety of styles like loafers, Mary Jane’s and more. Plus, Meghan Markle is a fan!
Want to save the planet one shoe at a time? Yes, ma’am.
The Los Angeles company Ma’am is here to show you how a woman takes on the world sustainably, one step at a time. The shoes are made locally, employing locals and giving back to the American economy. They are also shipped out in environmentally responsible packaging, in just the shoebox and not any extra packaging to reduce waste, and use limit international cargo shipping, as freight shipping is a known heavy polluter.
They currently carry both flat sandals and heels, with styles named after powerful women, like the Ruth, for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
One of the first brands to make sustainability a talking point, Toms are still as stylish and sustainable as ever.
They started out giving away one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold and ended up giving away more than 100 million pairs.
“As the original One for One® company, our community has given almost 100 million shoes to people in need. And while shoes can have a big impact, 13 years of using business to improve lives has taught us that giving shoes and grants can have an even bigger impact. So, moving forward, TOMS will dedicate at least one-third of our net annual profits to a giving fund managed by our very own Giving Team,” explains the site.
Before browsing the site for men’s, women’s and children’s styles, take a look at their 2019 Impact Report to see just how far this company has come, and where they aim to be in the years to come.
Best for underwear, bras and lingerie
Call up all your girlfriends and let them in on this sustainable underwear secret.
Girlfriend Collective is a one-stop-shop for eco-friendly underwear, bras and activewear for women that want support while also supporting the Earth. To start, their packaging is always 100% recycled and recyclable. Moving on to the fabric, their compressive bras and leggings are made from 79% recycled polyester and 21% spandex, with 25 recycled post-consumer bottles going into the leggings and 11 in each bra.
The beautifully-colored clothing is also dyed in a responsible way, with eco-friendly dyes. After the process, the water used is then cleaned, cooled and released, with the dye mud donated to a local pavement facility to be made into sidewalks and roads.
Hip, hip, hooray for the environment!
Parade is here to celebrate the launch of Universal, the world’s first carbon-neutral, recycled, edgeless underwear. The new line of undies is now available on Parade’s site, in inclusive sizes from XS to 3X. They start at just $8 and come in a variety of cuts including brief, high rise boyshorts, thong and hip huggers.
The collection has a clean carbon footprint, offsetting every pair to reduce emissions, and are also certified recycled, using an organic cotton lining for comfort.
Frank and Oak
These boxers are stylish, comfortable and good for the planet, making Frank and Oak your new favorite underwear brand for him and her.
The men’s styles include boxers, briefs and trunks, all made from organic cotton and made in sustainable factories. When it’s time to ship out, they use boxes made from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and recyclable poly bag mailers made from 50% recycled materials.
The company also has a donation program called “Let’s give a shi(r)t” which allows for donated items to be collected, washed and either resold at a discount or donated to underserved areas across Canada.
Pact not only sells great men’s clothing, but super sexy and sustainable underwear and bras, too.
The women’s underwear is made of 100% organic cotton and produced in a fair trade factory. It comes in a variety of colors and styles, from a classic bikini to a lace-waist brief and bra. The men’s styles range from boxers to briefs to trunks, even including a knit boxer for an even softer feel. They are all affordably priced, making eco-friendly items easily accessible for all. Even the kids can get in on this, as they have children’s underwear and socks, with both boxer briefs and hiphuggers on sale.
You’ll want to show off your booty to the world after shopping for cute and comfy styles from sustainable brand Boody.
What makes this company special is that their undies are made with sustainably grown bamboo viscose, which is good for the environment and soft on your most sensitive skin. Choose a style from briefs, boyshorts and thongs and take a look at bras, too, in a variety of colors and sizes.
The company is based on four pillars: Sustainability, ethics, quality and giving back. Each is important to saving the planet, and so they take them all very seriously. In terms of sustainability though, they chose bamboo as it grows quickly, uses far less land and water than cotton and soaks up CO2 emissions better than a forest, with one acre of bamboo sequestering 150 tons of carbon dioxide per year verses only 45 tons for a young forest.
Best for dresses
Beautiful on people and great for the trees, this company is a win-win when shopping for dresses.
People Tree sells an array of women’s clothing, but the dresses are truly stunning. The styles are versatile and crafted for a capsule wardrobe that won’t go out of style and end up in a landfill.
“From throw-on organic cotton shift dresses to delicately draped TENCEL Lyocell desk to dinner dresses. Choose from illustrated floral prints, to shirt dresses and Breton striped tunics. All verified by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO),” reads the site.
Not just climate neutral, Reformation is on a mission to be climate positive by 2025, and their bestselling dresses are here to help.
By reducing emissions, invest in renewable energy directly in their supply chain and using fabrics with regenerative fibers like cotton and wool, Reformation is planning to achieve this positive goal. Their dresses use these fabrics as well, with a variety of styles to wear each season, over and over again.
Amour Vert dresses and jumpsuits are designed with two things in mind: your unique body and the planet.
Browse through the many dresses on the site, from casual to more dressy and everything in between and made to last — and basically made to order as well. Their pieces are made in small, limited quantities, to make sure the quality is excellent and also to eliminate any excess waste that would end up in a landfill.
They also use sustainable materials, such as a beechwood blend modal fabric, ethical wool and Mulberry silk. They also ship orders using compostable protective bags and recycled packaging with soy-based ink printing.
Here comes the bride, and her dress (and her bridesmaid’s dresses) are all sustainable, too.
Monsoon is working to add more and more sustainable items to their inventory, adding more than 500 items to their list for the SS20 season. Look for the “S.E.W. Sustainable” marker on items, including wedding dresses like the Sophie Beaded dress, bridesmaid dresses like the Addison Floral dress and even flower girl dresses like the Corsage Belt Hi-Low dress in children’s sizing, all made of 100% recycled polyester.
Christy Dawn’s slogan is “honoring Mother Earth,” and they achieve just that, while also honoring beautiful fashions and stunning dresses.
“Each dress is created in a way that Honors Mother Earth, and is crafted using either organic cotton or sustainable upcycled fabric. Most of our dresses are sewn by our very own team in Los Angeles, and a small portion are sewn in India as part of our Farm-to-Closet fiber shed,” explains the site.
Most of the dresses come in sizes ranging from XS to XL and are all made with the above sustainable practices and fabrics. The brand also partners with ThreadUp, to make sure that their items live their full lives, being passed down to other women through the resale platform.
Best for accessories and jewelry
The best way to shop sustainably is to ShopWorn, not wasting any overstock of brand name accessories.
“ShopWorn is an e-commerce platform offering authentic, unused, unworn luxury products secured directly from authorized retailers and brands to customers at a fraction of the retail price. When brands and retailers have unsold inventory, they contact the ShopWorn team to hand over hundreds of jewelry, watches, and luxury accessories that have never found a permanent home,” explains the site.
Since items are never worn, you are getting brand new products, saving them from going to waste and also saving you a few bucks in the process.
Nisolo has got your back when it comes to bags, belts masks and other accessories, all ethically sourced, of course.
Not only do they pay their Peruvian factory workers an actual living wage, and work with independent artists in Kenya, but they also work to combat deforestation in the Amazon by partnering with Ecosphere+ and using an insetting program to offset carbon emissions and fight climate change. As of now, they have been able to protect 138,180 trees, offsetting 1,221 metrics tons of CO2.
Take your engagement to greater heights with ethically sourced diamonds from Great Heights.
The company uses environmentally conscious and conflict-free processes to get the best quality stones for their jewelry, from rings to earrings with the most beautiful shine.
“The singular difference between our diamonds and mined diamonds is the origin. Every Great Heights diamond is lab-grown using a craft that mirrors the natural growing process. They’re molecularly identical, but without the destructive force of mining or murky ethics,” reads the site.
United By Blue
Whether you need a new bag and warm socks for camping or a fashionable pair of sunglasses or scarf, make sure they are all sustainably made by United By Blue.
The accessories are all made with the environment in mind, using sustainable materials like hemp and organic cotton to name a few. With every one product sold, they remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways, totaling 3,563,574 pounds to date. They are also continuously involved in cleanups and other initiatives to help keep our oceans clean and air pure.
Able’s mantra is “local + global” and they aim to help women all over by creating sustainable jobs and products by women and for women.
The company specializes in leather bags and other accessories, which actually take less energy than the production of vegan leather, according to their site, since leather is actually a byproduct of the meat industry and would otherwise go to waste. In terms of their jewelry, it is all handmade in Nashville, TN and much of it is made with scrap metal or sterling silver made purely from recycled silver.
If you enjoy spending time in nature, wouldn’t you want your accessories to work toward protecting it?
That’s tentree’s thought, selling organic and eco-friendly accessories from backpacks to hats to face masks. As in the name, they also care very much about trees, planting not just one but 10 trees with each purchase made on the site, tallying over 52,000,000 and growing. They also use only the most sustainable materials, including recycled polyester, organic cotton and hemp to name a few. You can also view each of their factories on the site, guaranteeing fair practices and transparency every step of the way.
Lark & Berry
#GoClean #GoCultured #ShineDifferent. Now those are some hashtags we can get behind.
Lark & Berry is a fine jewelry company with ethics in mind, selling items made with cultured and never-mined diamonds and gemstones. In addition, the company has partnered with One Tree Planted to help repair the damage of mining, planting five trees for every purchase made on their site.
“Diamond mining has taken an enormous toll on our environment — huge, permanent holes dug into the earth, polluted groundwaters, wildlife displacement — the list goes on. We seek to help Earth by partnering with the One Tree Planted organization,” reads their site.
To help them plant trees and get something beautiful for yourself, take a look at their offerings, from stunning rings and bracelets to stud and dangle earrings and more. You can also shop the “Clean Cool Cultured” collection to see just how pretty the clean diamonds really are.