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Fashion trends come and go, but one thing that is always in style is sustainability. Plenty of celebrities have proved their dedication to sustainable fashion, including Emma Watson, who started a separate Instagram account to share her sustainable high fashion looks, particularly on press tours, to prove that everything she wears can be ethically sourced. And Gwyneth Paltrow is constantly promoting eco-friendly fashion and living through Goop, while shoe companies are also offering more and more sustainable choices as well.
The fashion industry is notorious for taking a major toll on the environment, but shopping the best sustainable fashion brands can help. Ethical fashion comes in many forms, including being mindful about water usage; hazardous chemicals; short lifecycle (such as fast fashion, which is made to be tossed once a trend is over); waste (this is where mending a hole in your favorite sweater or resoling your shoes comes in); and agriculture, which concerns natural fibers such as cotton and linen that are grown using harmful pesticides as opposed to with organic methods. To help you approach your wardrobe with the planet’s best interests in mind, we’ve rounded up the best sustainable fashion brands.
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Much of the Scandi style craze can be attributed to cool girl label Ganni. As one of the best sustainable fashion brands, helping the planet is built into their identity. In 2019 they signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to solidify their commitment to reducing their plastic waste, and they just launched RePack to bring them closer to their zero-waste future. RePack is a reusable packaging alternative made from recycled materials that customers can choose when they check out, saving up to 80% of CO2 emissions compared to single-use waste. Ganni is working to switch their three key fabrics to certified alternatives: organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lenzing ecovero viscose. They have a dedicated responsible collection, including this Ganni Stripe Cotton Smock Dress that is green in every way. Made from 100% certified organic cotton — which has reduced water usage and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as fewer chemicals — the elegant midi dress featuring shirring across the bodice and a high neck is sure to be in heavy rotation in your closet in the warmer months.
The athletic and athleisure brand is all about empowering women and helping the planet. Sixty percent of their products are made with sustainable materials, such recycled polyester, organic cotton or Fair Trade Certified, and they’re working to bring that number up to 80%. For example, the Athleta Studio Jogger is made from Tencel Modal, a fiber made from European beechwood trees from sustainable forests where 99% of the raw material comes from certified or controlled sources. Designed for yoga practice, you’ll want to wear the chic and cozy pants off the mat, too. Additionally, Athleta is a Certified B Corporation, so they meet strict social and environmental standards.
“Fewer, better things” is the motto behind Cuyana, one of the best sustainable fashion brands. The idea is buying less, but investing in pieces that will go the distance and stand the test of time. That’s why they make classic pieces that won’t go out of style, naturally extending their lifetime. Everything is consciously made — they choose factories that are close to the raw materials to cut down on travel and their carbon footprint. True to its name, the Cuyana Zero Waste Shopping Bag is made from Italian cotton twill that was overstock from their Spring 2020 collection that could have otherwise gone to waste. Fun and functional, it has adjustable ties so it can be carried as a cross-body or with a shorter strap with a bow.
When Reformation burst into the fashion scene in 2009, it made sustainable fashion sexy. Their eco mission has never wavered and they continue to invest in green building infrastructure to reduce their energy, water and waste usage. The 100 percent carbon neutral company brings that ethos into their stores as well by featuring LED fixtures and recycled fabric insulation, and completely offset their store builds. Transparency is a cornerstone of the brand, which is why they share their annual sustainability report with the public. The Reformation Delevan Top is the perfect example of how they don’t sacrifice style or sustainability. You’d never guess the pretty printed fabric is made from cellulosic fiber from wood pulp that is sourced from sustainably managed forests.
5. Eileen Fisher
As one of the best sustainable fashion brands, Eileen Fisher is a true leader in the space. The brand considers every element, from fabrics to dyes to the production process to the people who make their clothes. They’re also dedicated to giving their clothes a second life. Once a customer is done with a piece, they can sell it back to Eileen Fisher. Since 2009, they’ve taken back over 1.5 million pieces to be resold or remade into new designs. Delightfully cool and comfy, the Eileen Fisher Washed Organic Linen Delave Tiered Dress is made from 100% organic linen. The tiered silhouette elevates the breezy dress that can easily be dressed up or down.
Since Columbia is all about spending time in the great outdoors, it’s no surprise they are one of the best sustainable fashion brands. They focus on every aspect of the supply chain, especially the production process. That explains the innovation behind items like their Outdry Extreme Eco Jacket, which is made from 21 recycled water bottles, with trim — including labels, toggles, zipper pulls, thread and eyelets — that’s also made from 100% recycled content. It doesn’t use any dye, saving 13 gallons of water per jacket. Columbia is dedicated to working with Bluesign certified vendors, who are more efficient with water, energy and waste.
7. Rent the Runway
We’ve all been guilty of buying a super trendy piece that we can only wear for one season. Rent the Runway is all about giving every piece of clothing maximum wear with its memberships that allow you to borrow garments. The company initially launched with formalwear but has since expanded to every category, including accessories and athleisure. Think of it this way: Having a membership gives you access to a truly limitless closet. In the end, it’s easier on your wallet and the planet. They offer a variety of membership plans, including ones where you can constantly swap out pieces as often as you’d like, as well as one-time rentals.
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