WE CAN ALL MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Article by Eleonora Mezzo
As more and more fashion brands receive accusation of unfair wages, child labor and the use of unsustainable materials, I think it comes naturally to question what brands we can trust and which ones should be avoided. These past couples of years have marked a radical change for some major high street brands, as well as luxury labels. What’s particularly interesting is that all these accusations only brought results very recently. Fast fashion brands such as H&M, whose strategy of using not-so-fair labor practices and unsustainable fabrics led them to be on top of the high street for years, are now to be found on the list of the major contributors to global warming. Although I am glad we finally realized the gravity of the impact of fast-fashion brands on the planet, I still do not get how we came to it so late. For example, H&M has reached US$4 billion of unsold stock in 2018, accordingly to businessoffashion.com. The question is: where will the tons of unsold garments go? Well, although I am not able to answer the question, I now know I will think twice before buying from H&M again.
Since I am still learning about the topic, please feel free to share any other brand you believe is worth including on the list, so I will mention it in a future post.
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Founded in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation has become one of the most popular brands within fashion influencers on Instagram. The real charm of this brand is found in the nature of every piece of clothing sold on the website, including the materials and the transparency of the operations of the company.
Each quarter, Reformation releases a sustainability report, on which they record percentages and quantities of carbon, as well as other substances, minimized in the period of operations taken into consideration.
MOTHER OF PEARL
Mother of Pearl is one of my favorite brands on the list. Their positive approach to sustainable fashion is based on strong values of transparency, care for the environment and animals, as well as social responsibility.
The brand collaborated with British Fashion Council and BBC Planet.
Veja is a very popular sneakers brand which has gained the climax of its popularity thanks to its modern-vintage signature look. The material which the company is investing in the most is organic cotton. Veja has bought an increasing quantity since 2016 from Brazil and Peru, supporting the local businesses with an ethical and environmentally friendly approach.
The rubber used in the soles of their shoes is called wild rubber, which is a natural source. By doing so, the brand is able to preserve 120000 hectares of the Amazon forest.
Caring for the environment by setting clear and challenging goals is one of the characteristics which make Stine Goya so different. The company is in line with many UN Sustainable Development Goals which keep the company true to its mission.
You’ll be able to find the company’s Code of Conduct linked here. The document contains a detailed guide to the company’s approach.
Stella Mccartney is one of the few luxury brands with sustainability at the core of their operations. The brand’s approach aims at respecting both the environment, the planet, and the people.
Their new bag collection is 100% made of recycled nylon.
Lemlem is an African brand which was founded by the supermodel Liya Kebede after a trip to Ethiopia. Seeing all the local weavers led her to start the company, which is now on Net-a-porter’s Net Sustain list, along with many other brands with the same passion for sustainability.
Lemlem now operates in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, and other countries, where the company supports the local weavers.
Bassike is an Australian brand founded in 2006, whose vision is “to create luxurious and wearable everyday pieces with a design pedigree that allow them to work in a structured wardrobe just as well as with a pair of trainers”.
Their pieces are locally made and made of organic cotton.
Mara Hoffman is one of my personal favorites. One of the characteristics which make this brand stand out is their commitment to reducing their impact and spread awareness about the advantages of a sustainable fashion industry.
Their long-lasting materials allow you to wear more and wash less.
Able is a super environmentally friendly brand. If you are looking for jewelry, this is probably one of the best options you will find. Their range of earrings made me love this brand!
The company dedicated a section of its website to publish the wages of the employees, which shows the transparency of the brand.
Maggie Marilyn is hands-down on my top three list. The brand from New Zealand was founded by Maggie Marilyn Hewitt, who moved from a small town to Auckland when she began to think of creating the company. The brand manufactures clothes using materials which can be found in nature and which minimize the emissions of CO2 in the air. The ethical and eco production of fabrics aims at demonstrating that there is a solution which can save the planet from climate change.
On their website, you can find a real “dictionary” titled “The Language of Sustainability at MM” containing all the terms used by the brand to describe their mission. This helps the customer understand the company’s values and actions.
Amour Vert is a sustainable brand located in the USA. Their fabric choice allows the company to carry out a sustainable business which aims at polluting as little as possible.
With every tee purchased on the website, the brand will plant a tree in North America.
Everlane is the perfect brand for modern basic pieces that everyone should have in their wardrobes. Their selection of tops and denim are made to last and to fit any body type.
Their price range is much lower than any other sustainable brand, meaning that their pieces are sold at a price which is much lower than traditional retail.
This e-commerce brand is the perfect alternative for a good pair of jeans. The brand’s strategy consists of giving a new life to an old pair of denim by turning it into a new pair of jeans. The remake of their pieces is a smart way of making fashion sustainable.
Although the brand is popular for its denim collection, it also sells other pieces of clothing.
E.L.V. Denim is a zero waste brand which provides a wide range of denim made of old jeans which would not be worn otherwise.
The technique of using two halves of vintage jeans to make a new pair of denim gives a unique design to each pair of denim.
Ninety Percent was founded in 2018 in London. The fashion brand stands out because of the concept on which it is built. For each order, the company takes 90% of the profits and shares it within different organizations which operate for the community.
The choice of how to share the profits is totally up to the customer, so you can choose between many organizations and foundations supporting different causes.
Based in San Francisco, Future Glory is a fashion brand which believes in “products with purpose”. The popular socially-conscious collection of handbags is manufactured by women with different backgrounds and ethnicity.
The brand supports different practices, donating to foundations fighting to end sexual assault.
Kayu’s handbags and totes are the ideal beach bags, necessary for the summer season. The brand is designed to create handmade goods by a team of embroiderers, weavers and shell artisans.
The concept of “giving back” is at the core of the company’s operations and, for this reason, it collaborates with foundations such as Unite for Sight, Awareness Cambodia and YMCA.
Cuyana’s attention to detail can be seen in their pieces, made of fabrics and materials from Italy, Argentina, Peru, Portugal and others.
The brand sells handbags and womenswear, as well as accessories and swimwear.
If I had to pick the most alternative and original brand on the list, I would definitely choose Baggu. This company provides many sustainable solutions for your daily grocery shopping, offering a wide range of colorful reusable bags. It also sells eco-friendly handbags and totes.
A Standard Baggu can hold 2-3 times as much as a disposable grocery bag.
Nannacay was founded after Marcia Kemp visited Africa. During her trip, the founder saw the techniques used in the manufacturing of goods, so she decided to start the business to support the local community.
Accordingly to Marcia Kemp, Nannacay is not just a brand, but rather a “new social fashion project”.
Crafted in Spain, Hereu’s bags and shoes made it to Net-a-porter’s Net Sustain list. The signature style of their bags aims at celebrating the Spanish heritage.
Hereu’s pieces are the symbol of the mix between innovational and traditional fashion.
Leigh Miller is a fine jewelry brand based in California. The brand is now on the Net Sustain list of brands which are contributing to a better future of fashion, which you can find on the Net-a-porter website.
The uniqueness of Leigh Miller’s designs is due to the recycled silver and conflict-free stones used.
Wwake is one of my latest findings. The simplicity and modern silhouette of her designs make Wwake so unique. The brand is now on the Net Sustain list on net-a-porter.com and is a member of the Jewelry Industry Summit and Ethical Metalsmiths.
Celebrities such as Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, and Emma Watson have worn Wwake’s designs.
31 Bits was first founded with the purpose of giving the opportunity of entering the global market to artisans who would not be able to take advantage of their talent otherwise.
You can find all the information about the different groups of artisans linked here.
Laura Lombardi is my favorite jewelry brand on the list. Laura Lombardi’s designs portray both the NYC and Italian style since she lived in Italy and then moved to America.
Laura Lombardi’s designs are made of raw or recycled materials.
MELISSA JOY MANNING
Each piece of jewelry is locally crafted in either New York City or in California. Melissa Joy Manning is a brand which is focused on using environmentally-friendly materials which have been recycled sourced from a green Certified refinery.
The company is constantly trying their best to minimise the carbon offset.
The NYC-based jewelry brand provides ethically-sourced rings, necklaces and earrings. Catbird is a charitable company which donates part of its profit to many foundations and organizations.
You can find the exact amount of donations in the link below.
Fisch is one of those brands which make us wish it was summer season all year round. Their original swimwear collection includes bikinis and one-pieces made of recycled nylon fiber.
The brand operates with regenerated nylon to contribute to saving the oceans from pollution and donates 10% of global profits to the Healthy Seas initiative.
Peony Swimwear was founded in 2017, with the purpose of designing swimwear which can benefit both the customer and the planet. Similarly to Fisch, the material the brand uses consists of 100% regenerated nylon fiber.
All the packaging used by Peony comes from recycled materials.
Nagnata was founded by two sisters who share a strong passion for sustainable fashion. Their mission is to challenge the consumerism of fast fashion.
Nagnata carries out different projects which aim at supporting Indian artisans.
Outdoor Voices is becoming more and more popular within influencers. The activewear brand offers a wide range of sports bras and leggings created with high-tech materials.
Outdoor Voices is perfect for recreation and sports for both men and women.
SOFIA THE LABEL
Sofia The Label is another brand I love. I have recently found it on Instagram, where I learned about the company’s approach. The Australian label was founded in 2016 by Sophia Lenzo and is a little less affordable than the other brands on the list.
The packaging is 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Buying directly from sustainable brands is not the only way of being a conscious customer. There are many other ways which allow you to spend your money wisely. Going thrift shopping is one of the options and with the continuously growing e-commerce market, it is even possible to do it online. ThredUp is the largest online thrift store which resells womenswear and accessories.
The website offers a wide range of secondhand clothes from many different designers, including Reformation, Madewell, Chanel, and Gucci.
HFS Collective is a family-run business which takes into consideration the welfare of the planet by using sustainable materials in the manufacturing of bags and wallets.
The brand uses low impact and earth-friendly materials.
RAVEN + LILY
Raven and Lily is another brand on my latest findings list. Every purchase contributes to a loan program which offers support to female entrepreneurs located in East Africa.
The company is in partnership with Wildlife Works to off-set their carbon footprint.
Pixie Mood bags are cruelty-free and made of innovative and sustainable materials like cork, polyurethane, and others.
The company’s values can be found on the website and include “no child labor” and “no forced labor”.