Fast fashion not only jeopardizes the environment and human rights of workers, but it also promotes a mindless throwaway culture.
Ethical and sustainable fashion addresses these issues.
Slow fashion promotes a mindset that adds genuine value to our lives and is conscious about the way we dress.
Several ethical and sustainable clothing brands available today are taking responsible strides towards fashion, one at a time.
In this feature, we’ll discuss the key factors behind sustainable and ethical clothing.
We will also feature 18 amazing brands that are taking a step in the right direction by saving the planet, and also, the bucks in your pocket.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes Clothing Sustainable and Ethical?
- 2 Best 18 Ethical and Sustainable Clothing Brands Online
- 3 The Be Zen Take on Sustainable Clothing Brands
What Makes Clothing Sustainable and Ethical?
There are six main factors that distinguish sustainable and ethical fashion. We believe in these hallmarks that hold fashion brands accountable for their practices. Let’s know what these six pillars are all about!
Support for Human Rights
Most people who work in the global apparel industry are severely abused. They are not paid a minimum wage, are subjected to unsafe work conditions, undergo significant health hazards due to the chemicals inherent in dyes. In addition to such atrocities, they are also abused verbally and physically.
The fast fashion industry is also guilty of ruining several lives by instigating poverty even when people are working hard to produce the garments we casually chuck out after the trend passes.
Ethical fashion ensures that workers are not subject to such cruel treatment. It upholds fair treatment and trade practices that give workers their rightful due (Marx might be proud, we guess).
Ethical clothes are made in safe factories, by people who are paid a decent wage and work in healthy conditions.
Transparent Supply Chain
Any clothing business has a long supply chain involving tons of people who contribute to the final product.
From sourcing raw materials, spinning them to fiber, dyeing and prepping, designing, and producing the piece, to adding final touches and shipping to sellers and buyers across the world. There are many links in the supply chain.
Ethical fashion brands trace their supply chains from start to finish, clearly displaying their labor and manufacturing practices. It is important to enquire about the origins of materials, certifications and distributing partners when looking for sustainable clothing brand. Merely making goods out of organic cotton simply won’t cut it.
Promotes Conscious Consumption
The fashion industry is the biggest culprit behind mindless consumption and throwaway culture. Globally, we buy 100–200 billion brand-new pieces of clothing each year, out of which 92 million are incinerated or dumped in landfills.
We spot new trends in every season. Each trend means that there are more clothes that are mass produced, and even more that are dumped. Fast fashion brands often promote indulgent consumer behavior via social media hashtags like #treatyoself.
Even influencers are not out of the loop as they promote shopping hauls, several of which you will get to see on YouTube and other streaming sites.
Contrary to this, sustainable fashion endorses the principle of ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’. Instead of mass producing clothing where clothes are mostly made for a specific body type, excluding others, sustainable apparel promotes body inclusivity rather than making you insecure just to get you to consume more.
Does not pollute natural resources
All those toxins and chemicals used in fast fashion do not disappear by themselves. They are dumped into rivers and oceans where they irreversibly pollute the waters and kill marine life.
Most of the microplastics found in oceans come from laundry. When you wash synthetic fibers—so much of fast fashion is made of synthetic fibers—the microplastics in them wash off and leak into water bodies through drainage systems. These microplastics add to the ever-increasing waste in the oceans and harm marine life.
Sustainable fashion reduces not only its energy and resource consumption but also uses organic materials and safe production practices that do not pollute the environment.
Does not create non-biodegradable waste
We dump 92 million tons of clothing each year. Most fast fashion is made of synthetics and polymers that do not biodegrade. When these fabrics are thrown into landfills, they are most likely to stay that way for hundreds and thousands of years. Imagine what will happen if we keep creating a non-biodegradable waste of this scale. We’ll soon be drowning in a sea of waste.
Sustainable fashion promotes the ‘buy once, use forever’ concept to keep as much clothing away from landfills as possible, and makes only safe clothing that does not contain non-biodegradable materials.
Helps fight against climate change
All the malpractices of fast fashion ultimately add to the dreaded ongoing phenomenon of climate change. Tons of fossil fuels are burned in the manufacturing and distribution (all that transportation running on gasoline) of clothing. The fashion industry contributes up to 10% of total carbon emissions. That’s a lot.
Sustainable fashion fights against climate change by making clean clothing that aims to have as little impact on the planet as possible and by promoting the idea of conscious fashion consumption.
Best 18 Ethical and Sustainable Clothing Brands Online
It is time to take a look at those brands that are focussed on undoing the damage done to the planet and our self-esteem. All these brands are safe, ethical and sustainable. Most of them have partnered with environmental organizations and social progress campaigns for the less privileged.
We adore these sustainable clothing companies, and we know that you will as well after reading about them.
Bookmark these brands when you head out to shop next. As for getting lucrative discounts that help you save some bucks to make more qualitative, sustainable purchases, download the Be Zen chrome extension.
Toad & Co.
Toad & Co is a sustainable clothing brand that aims to minimize its environmental impact and help clean up the apparel industry. It sources eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and hemp to make its clothes, uses renewable energy to power its supply chain, and offers sustainable packaging for its clothing. It has partnered with environmental organizations like The Conservation Alliance, Los Padres Forest Watch, 1% For The Planet, etc.
Toad & Co has a wide range of clothes for both men and women in casual fits and bright summer colors. Its vibe is perfect for a day of adventure out in the sun. Most of its clothes are available in sizes XS to 2XL.
Shop them here.
Summersalt is a sustainable clothing brand based in Missouri, USA, that offers athleisure, swimwear, and loungewear for women. It uses sustainable raw materials, and recycled packaging, and produces its clothing in WRAP accredited factories. It has also partnered with BSCI — a program for suppliers to promote workplace conditions for labor.
Summersalt has some beautiful and functional swimwear and loungewear for women. To ensure body inclusivity in its clothes, it took 1.5 million body measurements from 10,000 women of all different body types. Vivid colors, comfortable textures, and minimalist patterns make up their range of styles.
Check them out here.
Whimsy + Row
Whimsy + Row is a slow fashion brand based in California, making clothes that ‘provide ease and elegance for the modern sustainable woman’. It uses locally sourced, low-impact, and upcycled materials to make quality clothing that lasts for years. It produces all its clothing locally, ensures fair wages and fair treatment of its labor, and has a waitlist feature on the website to keep the production process waste-free.
Whimsy + Row offers some elegant yet comfy clothing that comes in classic cuts and styles—you’ll keep these for years to come. From sleek dresses and jumpsuits to basic tees, they have something for every occasion.
Shop from Whimsy + Row here.
MATE The Label
MATE The Label is a sustainable fashion brand in California, USA, that makes organic essentials ‘clean from seed to skin’. The brand is climate neutral certified, made in the USA, uses organic raw materials, offers eco-friendly packaging, and gives back via 1% For The Planet.
MATE is known for its comfy and clean loungewear and sleepwear for women. It makes its clothes with 100% organic cotton and linen fabrics and low-impact dyes, and its designs are classy yet simple. If you’re looking for the perfect sustainable loungewear, look no further.
Shop MATE The Label, here.
Happy Earth Apparel
Happy Earth makes sustainable clothes that put the planet and people first. Its climate neutral uses sustainably sourced materials and offers 100% recycled packaging. When you purchase from Happy Earth, you get to choose which cause to support—there are three, fighting climate change, planting trees, or cleaning up trash. Its entire product range is also 100% vegan.
Happy Earth makes graphic tees, hoodies, sweatshirts, leggings, and accessories like hats. It has a casual and fun style and offers a range of sizes from XS to 2XL. Happy Earth makes a great clothing option for outdoorsy casual clothes that are clean and ethical.
Check out their store here.
Organic Basics is an ethical clothing brand based in Denmark, Germany that makes high-quality sustainable activewear, underwear, and other essentials. The brand believes that sustainability isn’t merely something nice to have but the only way to act today. It sources organic, recycled, and ethical materials, and powers its supply chain with renewable energy to reduce its impact. It’s a GOTS, B Corp, and PETA certified brand.
Organic Basics offers some of the most lovely essentials we’ve come across. Its clothes are simple and functional, yet beautifully designed. Its bras, swimwear, underwear, and yoga wear are available in various neutral shades and complement different skin colors and body types.
Shop from Organic Basics here.
Outerknowns makes some amazing durable classics that can be worn all year round. It was founded by surf Kelly Slater and aims to promote the use of quality garments that stay out of landfills and are in circulation forever. The brand is GOTS and Bluesign Certified, Fair Labor Association accredited, uses organic and recycled materials, and gives back to the planet.
Outerknown has a laid-back and cool aesthetic that makes its clothes versatile. Its jeans, shirts, tees, jackets, and other essentials have comfy textures and classy designs—you’ll want to keep them around forever. The best part is that it has a secondhand store where you can shop and sell pre-owned sustainable clothes from the brand.
Shop Outerknown here.
Nudie Jeans is a Swedish denim company that’s known for its sustainability efforts. The brand is built on the philosophy that jeans are meant to stay with us for as long as they possibly can—they uphold the values of repair and reuse over ‘use a few times and throw away’. The sustainable fashion brand is GOTS Certified, GRS Certified, uses 100% organic materials, and is Fair Trade.
Nudie Jeans offers some amazing denim jeans and shirts for both women and men, in various styles and designs that flatter different body sizes. If you’re looking for some kick-ass denim that’s also clean and sustainable, Nudie Jeans is your go-to.
Check out their clothing here.
Yes And is a slow fashion brand that believes that we can help save Earth through fashion—clothes affect our wellness and how they’re made changes the earth we walk on. The clothing company enforces the ‘8 facets of sustainability’, through which it focuses on organic materials, regenerative farming, fair trade practices, circularity, traceability, and innovation.
Yes And creates organic essential wear for women. Their dresses, tops, knitwear, t-shirts, and bottomwear are all made from 100% organic materials, are super functional, and look classy. They all come in sizes ranging from XS to XL.
Check out the Yes And shop here for comfy casual sustainable clothes.
Kotn creates affordable, sustainable clothing that ‘honors the people who make them and the places they’re made’. The brand is a certified B Corp, enforces fair and safe labor standards, uses plastic-free packaging and OEKO-TEX certified non-toxic dyes and gives back to Egyptian communities. It has impacted over 1,00,000 lives in Egypt by helping build schools and fund 2000+ farms.
Kotn makes the comfiest, cleanest cotton essentials. These clothes will last forever and will feel cozier with every wear—they’ll never leave your wardrobe. Kotn offers both menswear and womenswear in sizes ranging from XXS to XXL. Their tees, sweatshirts, joggers, and pants take you from summer to fall—they go beyond seasons while maintaining style.
Shop Kotn here.
Patagonia is another affordable, sustainable clothing brand based in California, USA. This was one of the first brands to switch to organic cotton and defend environmental ethics in the fashion industry. The brand is a certified B Corp, Bluesign, and Fairtrade, and is actively involved in climate and labor movements in the US.
Patagonia is one of the most sustainable clothing brands for casual outdoor clothing. It makes womenswear, childrenswear, and menswear in sizes XXS to 2XL. Its collection of joggers, hiking pants, jackets, t-shirts, and much more, are highly functional and will last you for years.
Try them out here.
Kent makes plastic-free organic cotton underwear for ‘comfier days, cuter bums, and a cleaner world’. It uses 100% natural plant-based materials—its clothing is completely compostable at the end of its life. The brand is GOTS certified, 100% vegan, and made in California with ethical standards.
Kent’s organic cotton essentials are a must-have in every sustainable fashion enthusiast’s wardrobe. They are of the highest quality, feel extremely soft, and are also healthy for your skin. They have variants in women’s underwear, like, thongs, high-waist, bikinis, hipsters, etc.—so you’ll find something for yourself.
Shop from Kent here.
Mara Hoffman is a sustainable clothing brand that aims to celebrate women and foster mindful consumption habits in people. It uses recycled materials, compostable packaging, and limited water for creating clothing. Plus, it traces most of its supply chain and has a Code of Conduct in place. The brand is also 100% Climate Neutral Certified.
Mara Hoffman makes beautiful sustainable clothing for women that transform the way we dress. It has some of the finest dresses—with elegant designs, comfortable fits, and vivid colors—for women of all body types and shapes. They make you feel empowered and keep the earth clean and green.
Try Mara Hoffman here.
Vetta is a slow fashion brand known for its 5-piece collections that let you create a sustainable capsule wardrobe of 30 outfits each. The company uses eco-friendly materials, powers its supply chain with renewable energy, and pays its workers fairly. The brand is also GRS and GOTS certified.
Vetta is the go-to affordable, sustainable brand to create a capsule wardrobe that covers a month’s worth of outfits. You can create your capsule wardrobe of 5 pieces or choose from their pre-made versatile collections. With Vetta, you’ll say bye-bye to the feeling of ‘having nothing to wear’.
Shop its amazing collections here.
Unspun makes ‘one-of-a-kind jeans for one-of-a-kind people’. The brand designs its products with minimum textile waste in mind, reduces its carbon emissions and water usage, and enforces ethical labor practices. It is also certified by GOTS, GRS, Bluesign, and B Corp. Unspun designs timeless jeans that won’t go out of style, and hence it has zero inventory.
Unspun makes sustainable and fashionable jeans that flatter your body and make you feel confident. The best part is that it does not offer a standard size range but custom-designed jeans for each user. The jeans you get are made for you. It does this through a body scan technology that can be used for both offline and online fittings.
Shop Unspun here.
Tentree is an affordable, sustainable clothing brand that plants ten trees for every piece of clothing sold. To date, the company has planted 83,844,961 trees, which is quite an impressive feat. It uses eco-friendly materials to make its clothes, has saved 200 MM g of waste and 245 MM l of water to date, and is certified Climate Neutral and B Corp.
Tentree has a wide range of collections for women, men, and kids. It has clothing categories, such as shirts, jackets, pants, hoodies, loungewear, and others, all of which are simply yet beautifully designed. It’s the go-to brand for comfortable casual essentials that you will love to wear over and over again.
Shop Tentree here.
Nube is a sustainable activewear brand that believes ‘clothing can be a platform that sparks mindful consumption’. It uses eco-friendly materials, non-toxic dyes, and limited resources to manufacture its clothes. It’s made in the USA and woman-owned. Nube is also working with artists and scrap traders to design something new out of fabric scraps to reduce clothing waste.
Nube offers basic tees and sweatshirts, but it’s best known for its sporty co-ords—a pair of tank tops and leggings made to flatter every body shape. Nube’s clothes are both comfortable and functional, and of course fully sustainable.
Shop from Nube here.
Sotela is one of our favorite sustainable clothing brands. It’s a ‘size, race, gender, and age inclusive clothing community that celebrates humans in all their forms’. Sotela believes that clothing must respect and celebrate all the changes a woman’s body goes through. Its clothes are designed to make you feel good and look good, any day.
The brand uses organic materials, is ethically made in the US, offers recycled packaging, and offers a wide size range.
Try Sotela’s stylish, comfy clothing range here.
The Be Zen Take on Sustainable Clothing Brands
Liked the above recommendations? You’ll find many more ethical and sustainable clothing fashion recs in the Be Zen Chrome extension.
Add it to your browser from the sidebar and find hundreds of eco-friendly products at a click—eco-shopping made easy and budget-friendly for you!
We believe that ethical, sustainable fashion is not a luxury, but every consumer’s right. Ethical clothing does not have to be drab to be hip. What it should be is a little conscious and transparent about its origins.
As conscious consumers it is your duty to make incremental changes in your lifestyle to lead up to a bigger positive revolution. Encourage the people around you to build a planet-positive community that knows a sustainable choice from the popular one. We will be there with you on every step of the change you make, right here at the Be Zen blog.
Stay tuned for more updates and don’t forget to sign up for our curated product checklist!