- Designed for women, by women, Tradlands believes the key to eliminating clothing waste and disposable fashion lies in creating timeless and functional essentials.
- “It doesn’t matter how beautiful a garment looks if human beings and the environment are exploited in the process.”
- Tradlands invites customers to consider examining the cost per wear of the garments they buy, addressing the commonly held belief that shopping sustainably is unnecessarily expensive. The brand avoids fast fashion and quickly fading trends, and embraces quality in both material and manufacturing to mitigate consumer-caused carbon emissions. Natural mono- materials such as cotton, silk, and Tencel (a cellulose fiber) are manufactured in small batches by independent artisans and ethical facilitates, reducing textile waste. When possible, sourcing seed to garment in the same country. Translands manufacturing may take place abroad, but all partners are held to a US standard, including wages, working hours, and conditions.
- Promoting both circularity, and accessible price points, Tradlands “Worn Well” program allows consumers to both buy and sell pre-loved pieces. Expanding the lifecycle of ethically made garments helps decrease needless waste as well as allows customers to include affordable variety in their closets.
- Purchasing new shoes can leave more than a physical footprint. Allbirds, a San Francisco-based footwear brand, acknowledges the environmental footprint the footwear industry leaves and is pioneering a new future of athletic wear. Carbon neutrality is central to the brand's mission, guiding the brand's design and focus on the use of only renewable resources.
- By measuring carbon emissions from the garments material, manufacturing, transportation, product use, and end of life, Allbirds can calculate and completely neutralize carbon emissions throughout their product's entire life cycle. They prioritize the use of natural, renewable materials such as wool, tree fibers, castor bean oil, and sugarcane farmed via regenerative agriculture, a practice that aims to return carbon to the atmosphere through the health of the soil. Mindful in choosing locations for manufacturing, Allbirds chooses facilities in regions with lower carbon electricity grids and prefers shipping options via ocean rather than air to decrease inevitable transport emissions.
- Wool is a main material featured in a majority of Allbirds products. While wool is an animal byproduct, conscious sourcing forms a compromise between comfort and ethics. Straying from commonly used synthetic materials, Allbird’s wool manufacturing process uses over 60% less energy than typical synthetic shoes. Organizations such as the ZQ Merino help ensure ethical farming, animal welfare, and land management standards.
- Levi’s has long-dominated the denim industry and for good reason. Known for their durable and timeless jeans, Levi’s garments are made to last years, a feat in itself inherently sustainable.
- “Dirty denim” is a tag that has recently emerged in the sustainability community, referencing the classic American material’s tendency to have some of the most environmentally taxing manufacturing processes. Denim is made from cotton, an already extremely water-demanding crop, that is then continually washed to achieve the desired textured look consumers love. This generates massive amounts of water use, pesticide and fertilizer pollution, and contaminated wastewater runoff. To mitigate this, Levi’s has recently launched their Water<less program, reducing water use by up to 96% in their manufacturing products in over half of their products. The program involves water recycling as well as innovative finishes. In addition, they have begun sourcing from BCI-certified cotton farms, lowering pesticide and water use. They also are at the forefront of the hemp movement, which is a similar alternative to cotton that requires less water and pesticides.
- Levi’s serves as an excellent example of big business beginning the transition to a sustainable future. Shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. Look for styles with the Water<less distinction, or items in the fully recyclable Wellthread line. Levi’s also has a secondhand line, offering affordable, vintage pieces, extending product lifeline, minimizing landfill waste, and giving consumers a chance to acquire the desired distressed denim look at an affordable price.
- Ethically, Levi’s has a ways to go. While multiple of the chain's suppliers are working or are providing a living wage at their inhouse Worker Well Being factories, major gaps in labor policies vary throughout the supply chain. This is acknowledged in their recent public commitments outlying their plans to improve in the coming years and is eagerly anticipated.
- Ellie Dinh, co-founder and creative director of Girlfriend Collective, found a glaring need for sustainability in the activewear world. Bringing her morals into her practices, her conscious clothing brand was inspired by her desire to fit her expectations as a consumer. Girlfriend Collective is clear on what they value: transparency. A holistic explanation of their environmentally and ethically minded approach to activewear is given for every step in the manufacturing process, and beyond. They don't believe in tricking consumers or ploying into sustainability as a marketing technique. By identifying areas of growth and understanding sustainability is an ever-evolving process, they are working towards a totally closed-loop system, developing a water filtration system for washing synthetic fibers, and working to become even more environmentally friendly.
- While virtually all synthetic activewear is made with virgin plastic, Girlfriend Collective is changing the narrative by sourcing their resources almost completely out of materials that are sent to waste. GC manages to turn recycled water bottles, fishing nets, and even cupro (a waste product from the cotton industry) into beautiful, durable, and accessible clothing pieces. Verified by Oeko-Tex's Standard 100, their recycled fabric is held to the highest standard. Customers can get a breakdown into what's in their products, down to how many recycled water bottles are used to make their signature buttery-soft leggings. Spandex, a non-recyclable material, commonly used in activewear that is non-recyclable is found in the compressive and LITE leggings as well as bras.
- Girlfriend Collective is SA8000 certified, which you can learn more about here. They break down what it means to be socially accountable, and attach the ethical bylaws in which they are regularly audited to follow. Going above and beyond for their employees, the company caters free lunch and dinner for factory employees, offers guided exercise breaks throughout the workday, health insurance, and brings health professionals into the factory bi-yearly for free health checkups.
- Nashville-based clothing brand ABLE was born out of a couple's mission to equip Ethiopian women with practical vocational sewing skills to escape cycles of prostitution and poverty. Their commitment to empowering women continues today, as women make up 95% of ABLE’s staff.
- ABLE believes that wages should be transparent, becoming the first fashion brand to publish their lowest wages. Through their “Publish Lowest Wages'' initiative the brand holds itself accountable for providing fair wages, especially important when hiring marginalized and often underpaid employees in areas with no federal minimum wage.
- ABLE believes that to be truly ethical, sustainability also must be considered. While multiple of their product materials such as leather, silver, and denim, have reputations of being traditionally non-sustainable, ABLE works to carefully source with sustainability in mind. Their unique leather-based goods are sourced from leather repurposed from the meat industry and manufactured in tanneries practicing clean water techniques. Recycled silver from US-based vendors is crafted by handmade in-house artisans locally in Tennessee, avoiding the harsh environmental consequences precious metal manufacturing has.