In the December 4th write up on renewable (vintage) fashion, a focus on sustainability was one of the central focuses of the piece. The fashion industry in general, but especially the fast fashion industry, creates such massive amounts of waste, contributing to the global crisis regarding the health of the environment and its ability to continue sustaining human life. However, it is not entirely realistic to dead-stop purchasing any new clothing, especially basic pieces that serve as the basis of many wardrobes.
Enter: Sustainable fashion. My criteria for evaluating sustainable fashion includes lowest-possible environmental impact, transparent labor practices, and price range. It is worth noting that on the whole, sustainable and ethically produced clothes are slightly more expensive than their fast-fashion counterparts, but in terms of quality and peace of mind, they are more than worth the slight uptick in price.
Below are solid brands that are doing good for the planet, their employees, and our closets. I’ve ranked them based on the average price of their take on a plain t-shirt.
Everlane : With an average T-shirt cost of ~$20, Everlane comes in first for affordability. Everlane is one of my favorite S&E (sustainable and ethical) brands for a combination of their transparent pricing (each item has a breakdown of cost for materials, labor, and transport explaining why each item costs what it does), and providing information about exactly where each item was produced, why they chose to produce it there, and a brief bio about the factory and its labor practices. Lastly, they only produce items that can be made sustainably (for example, they only started selling silk items when they had mastered an environmentally conscious production method). Everlane has great basics (including shoes!) that can be dressed up or down to be incorporated into tons of great outfits.
Reformation : Next in line for affordability is Reformation, with an average T-Shirt cost of ~$30. Reformation is currently one of my favorite brands because In addition to amazing basics, they carry some pretty amazing “fun” pieces like this snake-print mini, these pleated high-rise shorts, and these tiger-printed silk pants (elastic waistband for any holiday where the food is abundant). They also have great denim, which is major because of how difficult denim is to source and produce sustainably. Each item on the website comes with its own “Ref Stats” that let you know how much of each resource you’re saving with the purchase. In addition to this, they provide a yearly Sustainability Report. They ALSO invest in in programs to replace the resources they use (thik water conservation and the like). Reformation also partners with clothes-recycling company ThredUp to recycle your old clothes to get a store credit for a new ‘fit!
Uncle Studios : Uncle Studios is a made-in-Canada brand that carries T-shirts for about $60 each. They design and produce basic, yet interesting pieces in small batches in Canada, meaning that their labor practice standards are high. For products that cannot be made in Canada, Uncle Studios provides information about the factories in which they are made in, similarly to Everlane. They also use 100% eco-friendly packaging that can be recycled.
Stella McCartney : Although Stella McCartney’s pieces are not necessarily realistic for building an entire wardrobe, with the average T-shirt costing around $300, I felt in necessary to include her in this write up, as she has been credited with bringing Eco-Conscious to the attention of the greater public. With her debut collection in (YEAR), McCartney introduced “Stella’s World”, a page of her website dedicated entirely to different aspect of sustainable production, as well as yearly reports of the company’s carbon footprint.
These four brands are only the tip of the S&E fashion iceberg, and I encourage you to do your own research to discover more brands that are working for the people and for the planet. Also, figure out what works for you; maybe keep your basics sustainable and accessorize with the occasional fast-fashion statement piece, as it’s often not helpful to splurge on “trendy” items that you will throw away in a few months anyways. Keep it fun, and keep doin’ you!