Back in the day, when someone would ask me about sustainable style, my answer was often something like this.
“You can be stylish or you can be sustainable, but you can’t be both.”
Sustainable style options were limited to shapeless and scratchy sackcloth dresses in hemp in shades ranging from beige to beiger, and unless your signature style included a sack of potatoes as inspiration, you were out of luck.
Fortunately, we’ve come a very long way, and now brands are proudly sustainable and stylish all at once. Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword to entice you to plop down exorbitant amounts of money for bad clothes in an attempt to be eco-conscious.
At the end of the day, buying new is never going to be the most environmentally friendly choice, but we all want new clothes and we also want to support companies that are doing good things, like providing a fair wage for talented people around the world and supporting communities and families.
And fortunately, so many companies are doing so much good, from providing safe places to work to transforming waste products into innovative fabrics, and they are doing it all stylishly, Here, just a few of the companies that are making it cool to be sustainable. For more, check out my catalog on sustainable brands.
Founded by two Brazilian sisters and based in Utah, this company practices fair trade and ethical employment practices and is considered one of the best places to work in the state. I love their soft, feminine, slightly bohemian styles. I also love that the clothes are affordable, with tops starting at around $20. The brand also features jewelry, shoes, and hair accessories.
Price Range: $19.50 (tee) to $98.50 (the dress, below), with jewelry and other accessories starting much lower
Best For: Romantic and bohemian style personalities; updated finds at affordable prices
This higher-end brand employs artisans from all over South America to make colorful heirloom-quality pieces that will last a lifetime. This is a great source for those with eclectic, creative, and bohemian personal style. They also have a zero waste policy and some of the cutest housewares I’ve seen anywhere.
Price Range: $125 (bikini top) to $925 (crochet dress)
Best For: Printed pieces that make a statement, quirky, creative, and bohemian style types
Fame & Partners
Looking for a party dress or a special occasion piece? Fame & Partners claim to sustainability comes from the fact that their dresses are made to order, which means less overstock and less waste for the environment and more custom options for you. They are known for glam gowns for everything from galas to weddings, but they offer more than just dresses.
Price Range: $135-555
Best For: Glamorous or femme fatale personal style types or anyone looking for a special item for a big night
Apiece Apart gets its name because these pieces are designed to become part of your life and to be worn for years. Founded by two women friends, the line strives to use organic, fair trade and biodegradable fabrics whenever possible and to reduce its impact on the environment.
Price Range: $125 (pajamas, on sale) to $425 (a maxi)
Best For: Bohemian, Artistic, and Natural personal style, and anyone who appreciates timeless quality
Gentle Herd uses natural fibers gently sourced from the best herds in Inner Mongolia, focusing on wool, cashmere, linen, and cotton. Great value for the quality, with prices starting in the $30s. They focus on animal welfare and ethical product with a goal to bring luxury to everyday pieces.
Price Range: New arrivals ranged from $65 (polo) to $369 (coat)
Best For: Luxurious everyday essentials, natural, relaxed personal style
Affordable basics for the whole family made of organic cotton, which is produced using 81% less water. This is a great place for tees, tanks and other essentials for everyone in your house, as well as some elevated pieces like the one shown here. They also offer bedding and bath items.
Price Range: $30-95
Best For: Relaxed, natural, casual style and basics
The name means Green Love in French, so the focus here is clearly on sustainability. They use sustainable fabrics, including cottonseed cupro, which is made out of recycled cotton waste and has a silky feel. They offer great staples and contemporary classics that are office-friendly. They also offer a Reamour program, which allows you to resell your preloved Amour Vert pieces.
Price Range: $38 (tank) to $328 (silk maxidress)
Best For: Office-friendly separates, classics, great prints
This Nashville-based brand partners with vendors worldwide to support them and their local communities. Their goal is to empower women around the world, and in addition to ethically made clothing, they also offer shoes, accessories, and even travel bags, with sizes ranging from XXS to 3X.
Best For: Contemporary pieces with a slightly boho natural feel, accessories, personalized jewelry
Price Range: $40 (tank) to $258 (bag), with accessories starting at much less
With a name that means God’s will, Sika’a was born out of designer John Tchoudi’s desire to see modern luxury clothes in unique handmade designs using African fabrics. These are collectible, heirloom-quality pieces that make an unforgettable statement.
Price Range: Dresses in the new arrivals ranged from $280-530
Best For: Statement dresses in stunning fabrics for someone with creative or artistic personal style
Finery London is a UK-based label that is ETI certified (for an ethical workplace) and fair trade, and offers trendy and contemporary clothes for the modern woman at surprisingly affordable prices. A great place to pick up office-friendly dresses and separates with a modern flair.
Price Range: £29 (blouse) to £89 (dress)
Best For: Women who want modern trend-oriented pieces without spending a lot of money
How important is sustainable shopping to you? And what are your go-to sustainable fashion brands? Let me know in the comments!