Each spring season I get excited to go out and buy new sundresses, sandals, and floral blouses. And each year I need to buy another plastic storage bin to store all my clothes in when the season is over. The problem with this is that I keep buying new pieces and donating all the clothing that I’m tired of. Don’t get me wrong, donating clothing to thrift shops is a million times better than just throwing it out but still I am going to my local consignment store every other month to give them the clothes I don’t wear anymore. I have too much clothing and I’m being very wasteful about it. I hate that I do this because I know how bad my shopping habits are for the environment.
Being in the fashion industry I see firsthand, just how wasteful we are and how damaging our processes are in creating fast fashion pieces are for the planet. If you have not watched the Netflix documentary The True Cost, it’s very informative about what it really takes to create the clothing we wear 3 times and then throw out.
I think that the hardest thing about wanting to be fashionable each season and wanting to have sustainable fashion pieces is that the two do not go hand in hand. The whole point of sustainable fashion is that they are very basic and timeless so that you can wear them year after year. Below I share my favorite places to shop for sustainable, fair-trade, & eco-friendly spring fashion that you can wear for every spring for years to come.
One thing that is not talked about in this post is that going to thrift stores and other second-hand clothing stores, is actually another way for you to shop sustainably. The stores listed below all range in prices, but sustainable fashion is known to be a bit expensive because of the fabric sourcing and living wages that are paid to the workers who make the clothing. So if going to thrift shops and finding fashion pieces is more your style, check out my friend Jacqie’s post about Thrifting Spring Fashions.
One company that you all may have heard of in terms of ethically made clothing is Everlane. They are very open and transparent about their sourcing and labor practices and they believe that customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make. If you go to their site, they will show you how much it costs to make the item, from materials to labor, to transportation. A brand that I became familiar with when I worked an eco-friendly company was Eileen Fisher. Her clothes are expensive but they are also SO NICE. I find Eileen Fisher clothing at Nordstrom and I always love feeling the amazing quality of the fabric.
Let me just name off all the amazing things that this company does to help you understand why the clothes cost so much. First off 25% of their garments are produced in the United States. (DO YOU KNOW HOW RARE THAT IS?!) Second, they use organic/responsible fibers and have a natural dying process that isn’t harmful to the earth. Third, they support fair labor and human rights, specifically women’s rights. They also believe that we as consumers should all know who is making our clothing and provide videos about the workers. The last amazing thing that they do is that they will recycle your old Eileen Fisher clothing. When you no longer wear your clothes, we take them back. Pieces still in perfect condition are given a good-as-new cleaning and resold through our Renew program. Many of the pieces we take back are damaged beyond repair. Our Waste No More team transforms them into one-of-a-kind artworks, pillows and wall hangings using a custom felting method.
Some other amazing eco-friendly brands that I would love to have in my closet is People Tree, Well Made Clothes, and Armedangels. All three of these companies are very open about their fabric and factory sources and they all are very ethically responsible when it comes to producing products.
One thing that really surprised me when I first learned about sustainable fashion is how much water it takes to make a single pair of denim jeans. Some estimates suggest that producing one pair of jeans requires more than 2,500 gallons of water, nearly a pound of chemicals and vast amounts of energy. Multiply that by 2 billion — the number of jeans produced worldwide every year — and you get a snapshot of an industry that contributes a hefty share of wastewater and greenhouse gases to the environment. There have been a couple of companies come out with jeans that use less water and the best know company for doing so is Levis! The jeans are pictured above are a part of their Water<Less campaign. As of today, more than 67% of all Levi’s® products are made with Water<Less® techniques. Levi’s also plans on reducing up to 96% of the water normally used in denim finishing, the final stage in making of a pair of jeans. J.Crew and Madewell also have similar denim creation processes.
Since most of us live in leggings all year long, I have found the BEST certified organic cotton leggings. PACT is an amazing company and you may have seen their products if you shop at Whole Foods! That’s actually where I bought the leggings and how I learned about the company. Not only are their products super soft and made in a sustainable way, but PACT also uses fair-trade business practices. At Pact, you can feel confident knowing we value kindness towards humans, planet, and clothing that’s as comfortable as being yourself. PACT also has a bunch of other basic pieces that you can wear all the time. I own their leggings, tank tops, t-shirts, and underwear!
You might not think of your accessories needing to be made in an ethical way, but they do. Take a leather purse for example. Do you know how damaging it is to create that bag? According to a Vogue Interview with Stella McCartney, to make a leather bag an animal has to be killed, there are toxins and chemicals, trees have to be cut down, electricity has to be used, and intense labor is put into just one bag. That’s why I love Stella McCartney and her clothing brand. She is completely honest about where and how her products are made. Her brand is an eco-friendly, vegetarian brand that believes in treating animals and the environment with respect.
One footwear brand that I always see on my Facebook and everyone loves them because Meghan Markle wore them is Rothy’s. After doing some research I found out that Rothy’s flats are made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles. According to their website, they have repurposed 28,755,662 water bottles into shoes. Isn’t that so cool!!? They also will package and ship the shoes to you in vegan & biodegradable shoe boxes that are also made of recycled materials. I couldn’t find shoppable links for their shoes but I highly recommend checking out their website!
All the companies and products that I talked about in this post were chosen because of their known commitment to fair and improving labor conditions, the use of natural/organic fibers, and the steps they take to protect the environment from harmful chemicals.
As I was writing this post it inspired me to purchase some more sustainable pieces that I can wear for years to come. This post was also a collaborative post with my friend from school Jacqie, who runs her blog The Lipstick Narratives. She wrote about how to find the best spring fashion in thrift stores and how you can style those pieces.