Fashion is quickly evolving, with each decade bringing sweeping changes to the industry and its modes of supply chain production. A number of factors are driving these changes, from economic and societal inequalities to environmental pollution and overconsumption.
“Fast fashion”, which has dominated the industry for more than 40 years, prioritizes the production of cheap clothes over worker’s rights and the natural environment.
A sustainable clothing movement has developed in response, conversely known as “slow fashion”.
Sustainable fashion requires systemic change to guarantee labor equity, workplace safety and ecological conservation in the clothes production and manufacturing process.
Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological, and financial systems.Wikipedia
As the holiday season is approaching, we have put together a list of 10 gift ideas from sustainable clothing brands that are changing the face of the fashion industry through innovative accessories and clothing. These companies promote fair trade working conditions, employee rights, eco-friendly processes and sustainable materials.
The ReNew military parka – Everlane
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Everlane was founded on the premise that the entire clothing supply chain should be transparent and ethically structured. The company made a name for themselves by publicizing their profit margin on each piece of clothing to the consumer. Everlane also provides full disclosure on their factories, employee compensation, and product pricing breakdown. Sustainability is central to their business ethos, and Everlane has committed to ending the use of virgin plastic by 2021. The ReNew Military Parka is part of Everlane’s outerwear line made from recycled PET plastic bottles. Their other sustainable textiles include carbon-neutral sneakers, organic cotton tees, and recycled cashmere, among other textiles.
Folk Yeah shirt jacket – Toad&Co.
Originally launched in Telluride, Colorado, Toad&Co. started as a habadashiere specializing in handcrafted knit hats. More than 20 years later, the company has elevated to the forefront of environmental change in the fashion industry. Their clothes are made from sustainable materials including hemp, recycled fibers and Tencel. Toad&Co. is also certified by Bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100. Bluesign is a system that monitors how efficiently resources like water are used during the “Dyeing and Finishing Process” of textile production. OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 verifies that a company’s clothes do not contain harmful chemicals or toxic dyes. The Folk Yeah Shirt Jacket is made from fabric that is approved according to the Global Recycled Standard.
Cropped funnel neck pullover – Pact
A leader in sustainable fashion, Boulder, Colorado-based Pact Growing saves water and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals in all of their clothing, accessories and household goods. They also work with Fair Trade Certified™ factories that verify to give employees a safe workplace environment and pay a living wage for their labor. The Funnel Neck Pullover is made from 100% organic cotton loopback terry.
Upcycled delano unisex hoodie – one432
Based in New York City, one432 is a design concept company founded by Parson Design School professor Ammar Belal. In addition to their innovative approach to design and sustainability, one432 donates 50% of net profits with female artists and childhood education initiatives in Pakistan. One432 sells its goods via the “Made Trade” sustainable product marketplace. Made Trade sources ethically-created products from entrepreneurs and artisans around the world.
Johan Dusk organic rugby sweatshirt – WAWWA Clothing
Based in Manchester, United Kingdom, WAWWA evokes the styles of 1990s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” meets underground hip hop street culture. Their fresh, iconic, retro looks are grounded in a foundation of sustainability and fair trade practices. WAWWA initiatives include only working with factories that use sustainable energy, sourcing 40% of their yarn from recycled plastic bottles salvaged from the ocean and creating a cruelty-free, 100% vegan product line. They also do not use toxic chemicals or dyes in their clothing. The WAWWA Jonah Dusk Rugby Sweatshirt is made from 100% organic cotton.
Quest 25L backpack – Tentree
Based in Canada, Tentree’s claim to fame is having planted 50 million trees and restored land in over 8 countries. The company commits to planting ten trees for each item of clothing purchased. Tentree consumers can shop while simultaneously helping to rebuild precious forests around the world. In addition, Tentree creates fully sustainable accessories, clothing and shoes made from materials like Tencel wood pulp fiber, recycled polyester, and hemp. Tentree is a Certified B Corp, which means that they are rated to have high standards in terms of financial transparency, social responsibility, and environmental conservation. Tentree uses textile materials like recycled polyester, natural cork, organic cotton, and hemp. The Quest 25L Backpack is made from 22 recycled water bottles.
Vintage thermal long sleeve shirt – Alternative Apparel
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Alternative Apparel is connoisseurs of all things cotton. Their organic cotton is OEKO-TEX® and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified. A GOTS certification means that a company meets rigorous processing standards of their textile materials, which also extends to the environmental and societal impact of the company’s supply chain. Their Vintage Thermal Long Sleeve Shirt is made from organic GOTS certified cotton.
Corduroy work shirt – Kotn
A Certified B Corp., Kohn is on a mission to improve the quality of life for the global communities it works with through sustainable fashion. The company works with family-owned factories in Egypt and Portugal. In addition to sourcing premium, hand-picked cotton, Kotn also partners with the Better Cotton Initiative, a non-profit that governs international cotton farming. Since its inception, they have built 7 schools and funded 690 farms in rural Egypt. The Corduroy Work Shirt is sustainably made in Portugal under fair trade work conditions, using 97% Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) derived cotton and 3% elastane fabric material.
Classic backpack – Cork Element
Cork Element specializes in handcrafted accessories and bags made from vegan leather derived from natural cork. The company sources its products from Portugal, which has a thriving, eclectic community of cork designers. Their designs are sleek and minimalist, reminiscent of premium leather. Natural cork is one of the most innovative alternatives to animal-based leather, as it is renewable, eco-friendly, and water-resistant.
Wool blend diamond quilt henley – Patagonia
Based in Ventura, California, Patagonia is a household name for outdoor enthusiasts. They are also one of the few Fortune 500 companies making a big impact in sustainable fashion on a global scale. They have launched environmental and animal conservation programs, in addition to Fair Trade initiatives to ensure workers earn a living wage. Patagonia does not operate their own warehouses; however, they pay a premium to warehouses that carry Fair Trade Sewn clothes. In 2020, Patagonia committed to making 68% of their fabrics with recycled materials.
The holidays are a time for celebration and gift-giving with family and friends. However, oftentimes the products we buy have a disproportionately negative impact on society and the natural environment.
Fortunately, there is a growing multitude of innovative, socially conscious companies and product designers working to create sustainable marketplaces that promote environmental conservation and employee well-being.
Our gift recommendations provide a useful list of sustainable brands and products that will inspire a festive holiday season, while also having a positive influence on the world around us.
Featured image: Fashion photo created by Racool_studio – www.freepik.com