How to Find Sustainable Clothing Brands

Here are some overall criteria to look for, and then some recommendations of sustainable clothing brands we love!

Sustainable clothing is being demanded by a rapidly growing, conscious, climate concerned and savvy group of consumers that span generations. Sustainable clothing is no longer relegated to a few beige, baggy t-shirts. You can now find stylish, sophisticated and comfortable sustainable clothing from affordable to luxury designer brands. Sustainability is taking the clothing market by storm. 

What are the best sustainable clothing brands? There are new brands entering the market with sustainable clothing all the time. There are so many truly exceptional sustainability clothing brands that the choice now comes down to your style, your body, and your budget. Here are some overall criteria to look for, and then some recommendations of sustainable clothing brands we love!

What is Sustainable Clothing?

Sustainable clothing uses natural or recycled materials and looks also at overall environmental and social impact. Just like sustainable businesses, there is no one definition of sustainable clothing. Some companies focus on organic cotton and natural fibers, while others focus primarily on social impact or achieving B-corp status.  

However, the universal understanding is that sustainable clothing is better for people and the planet. It is especially good for people with any kind of sensitivity — allergies, rashes, chemical sensitivities, etc. as it reduces overall toxic exposure on the largest organ in the body — the skin.

Sustainable clothing is designed with care, using high-quality materials. Sustainable manufacturers look at everything from the amount of water used in production (conventional cotton uses more water than almost any other crop), to the living wage of the producers. There is an emphasis on natural, sustainable practices of regenerative agriculture, social justice, and an exceptional end product.

Best Natural Materials

In the case of natural materials sustainable clothing emphasizes materials free of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. 

Common sustainable fibers:

  • Organic cotton
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Tencel
  • Silk (preferably cruelty-free)
  • Bamboo

Recycled polyester, often made from recycled plastic bottles, is also considered a sustainable fiber. Although it is not natural or free from chemicals, it does extend and re-use product lifecycle, thereby increasing sustainability. 

Elements of Sustainable Clothing

In addition to chemicals, sustainable clothing looks at the overall sustainable impact, and the well-bring of everyone involved in the production. Environmental impact and social impact means that with every purchase, the consumer is able to help to improve the quality of life of the producers, and support a business with a sustainable product model. 

Sustainability elements include:

  • Water Usage – With fresh water a scarce resource in much of the world, water conservation is an important element of sustainability. 
  • Pesticides and Chemical Fertilizers – These can stay in the ground for decades, deplete the soil, and leach into groundwater, harming human health. 
  • Product Life Cycle – Sustainable clothing is the opposite of fast fashion. It is made with high-quality materials and designed to last beyond the current trends. This means less product waste and less clothing in the landfill, leading to overall waste reduction.
  • Social Impact – Sustainable clothing also includes fair trade practices and living wages for everyone in the product production line.

Where to Look for Sustainable Clothing

You can now find sustainable clothing everywhere from Wal-Mart and Esprit to Ralph Lauren and Rent the Runway. The impact is in the details. Look for high percentages of the most sustainable materials or 100% recycled polyester. 

Many mainstream or traditional clothing brands are adding a line of sustainable or organic clothing. You can also find companies dedicated to sustainability from start to finish. To get started, here is a list of some great sustainable clothing brands:

Mainstreams Brands with Sustainable Lines:

  • Esprit
  • Wal-Mart
  • Patagonia
  • Levi’s 
  • Banana Republic
  • Gap
  • JCrew
  • Eileen Fisher
  • Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Rent the Runway
  • Everlane
  • ThredUp
  • H&M
  • Vera Bradley 
  • Colombia
  • Athleta
  • Boden

Dedicated Sustainable Clothing Companies:

This list is just the beginning. You can find hundreds of companies dedicated to sustainable practices and natural clothing. There are new entrants in the market regularly, and even high-end designers are incorporating more sustainable materials into their fashion lines.

Putting It All Together

In shopping for sustainable clothing, you’ll quickly find that there are more choices than you have space in your closet. Start with brands you know and love, and experiment with new brands. Many offer free returns, making it easy to try on clothes at home. 

Commit to replacing old items with sustainable clothing, starting with the basics like pajamas, socks and underwear, and build up from there. For every conventional item purchased, try a new sustainable clothing item as well. 

Pretty soon, you’ll have a wardrobe full of sustainable clothing, and with it, healthier fabrics for your skin, and the satisfaction of voting for a more sustainable future with every dollar you spend.


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