The more people buy fashion clothes the better for fashion brands. This uncontrolled trend has created a massive pile of problem for the environment, for fashion brands themselves, and in the whole apparel supply-chain. Massive amount of clothing end up in landfills or incinerated – a shocking 85% of what’s created by fast fashion winds up in the dump. Dyes and chemicals polluting the marine life.
And more cheap cloths mean increased vulnerability for apparel factories and low paid workers losing their jobs – as this COVID-19 scenario has showed that factories closed down as brands/buyers canceled orders, stopped already produced or shipped goods, and delayed payments or forcing discounts.
At the same time, in this pandemic people in general are driving change. They are demanding sustainable or ‘slow’ fashion – and they are keen to pay more for it.
And there are some brands that are keeping sustainability in mind by keeping eco-conscious fabrics, reduced water consumption, and as well fair wages for factory workers. Here are some brands that are putting some effort:
Beachgold Bali of Indonesia is the country’s first apparel B-Corporation. It offers resort wear and accessories collections. All of its collections are designed, manufactured and produced by local skilled workers in Bali.
In its effort towards sustainability and keeping the environmental footprint low it has adopted reduced energy usage, water and paper consumption, reduction of single use plastics and waste through recycling, and repurposing of textile offcuts. Beachgold’s garments are hand-dyed and hand-sewed.
Protective swimwear brand Alma Society’s goal is to decrease the need for sunblock, which pollutes oceans. Alma Society also upkeep sustainability by reducing waste throughout its supply chain, and proposing good working conditions and fair wages to factory employees.
And the brand in 2021 will launch a line of swimwear manufactured completely from recycled fabric called ECOwave, which is knitted from plastic bottles recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.
Alma Society is aiming to produce all it garments made from this fabric by 2022.
Finland based leading activewear brand Reima make safe, innovative, sustainable apparel for kids. From the beginning the brand has used non-toxic dyes and pursued sustainability by repurposing adult work uniforms into kids’ outerwear.
In addition, the activewear brand employ easy-care water and dirt-repellent materials so the clothes need to be washed less often.
Elina Björklund, CEO, Reima said, “In the Nordic culture, kids traditionally play outdoors in any weather,”
Elina added, “As of late, with climate change becoming more tangible, we’ve started to look for more concrete ways to fight it. One of those ways is our starting point: recycling materials. We now have a 100% recyclable mono-material jacket.”
Also Covid-19 pandemic, Reima has shifted to doing most business virtually. They’ve witnessed a dramatic shift in sales from brick-and-mortar to digital, and are delivering more to customers’ homes.
Eco-Stylistis disrupting the men’s fashion space by making it easier than ever for guys to shop ethically and sustainably. A curated online marketplace, Eco-Stylist enables men to shop a selection of pieces from over 40 thoroughly-researched sustainable brands.
Founder of Eco-Stylist, Garik Himebaugh said, “I still remember how betrayed I felt the first time I learned how unsustainable the fashion industry is.”
“I used to buy clothes from brands like Express, H&M, and Forever 21 because they were convenient, trendy, and honestly, they were right in front of me. I then came across some shocking information, such as the low wages paid to factory workers and the environmental destruction. When I discovered sustainable brands, it felt like common sense to support them,” Himebaugh added.
Vera Bradley has been persistently focused on philanthropy. Cofounders Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller drove ground-breaking social and community engagement by establishing the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, which has raised over $34 million to fund cancer research and build a world-class research facility at Indiana University.
Lately, the company also has adopted a focus on environmental sustainability, utilizing eco-fabrics beginning with the ReActive Collection.
With the beginning of COVID-19, Vera Bradley strengthened its community support and charitable initiatives under the umbrella of VB Cares, particularly through organizations that work to improve the lives of women and children.
Christy Dawn clothing is made using deadstock fabric by a team of sewers paid living wages and health benefits out of the Downtown LA factory. Founders Christy and Aras Baskauskas also have started a regenerative farming initiative in an effort to be a solution-driven company.
Working as a model, Christy Baskauskas saw first-hand how wasteful the fashion industry is. She decided to commit herself to slow fashion and healing the Earth.
“At Christy Dawn, our designs are intentionally timeless and of no particular era, so you can wear them for a lifetime,” says Baskauskas.
“They’re made slowly and with quality prioritized above all else, intended to last a lifetime and beyond,” Baskauskas added.
Cuyana founded on the philosophy of ‘fewer, better,’ Cuyana is a sustainable fashion brand that designs foundational pieces for women. Established by Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah, the company partners with artisans around the world.
CEO Karla Gallardo said, “We couldn’t buy a lot, so my family emphasized buying well-made, high-quality items that would last.”
In the beginning, building a by-women, for-women brand was challenging for the company founders.
“We were pitching Cuyana to a predominantly male audience of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, who didn’t fully understand our value proposition. They wanted us to change our entire business model to fit their idea of what a successful fashion company looked like. When we shifted strategy to only pitch to the few women VCs, focusing our conversations on sustainability, they immediately got it,” says Gallardo.
The Sak is a premium handbag company founded in 1989. Their Sakroots collection has been dedicated to protecting people and the environment since its launch. The entire company recently committed to achieving 100% sustainability by 2029.
Designed to raise awareness for ocean conservation, the Sakroots Seascape collection is based on the work of Portland artist Yellena James, with a Balinese coral-reef inspired print.
All bags in this collection are crafted from a blend of recycled REPREVE material, which already has removed over 16 billion plastic bottles from the environment, repurposing the bottles into recycled fibers.
Furthermore, sales from the collection benefit Sea Trees by Sustainable Surf, an ocean-health-focused platform designed to reverse climate change by providing habitats for threatened species such as sea turtles and other ocean life. Sakroots matches all customer donations dollar-for-dollar.
Angela Roi crafts high quality, non-animal material handbags. The company works with highly skilled artisans to make long-lasting products in designs that won’t go out of style, so that people can use them for years.
They ensure that their factories do not rely on any child labor and that they treat their workers fairly. The brand constantly tests new eco-conscious fabrics, such as interior fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. All product packaging is biodegradable.
“Many people think that sustainable fashion is only about protecting the land and climate. To us, it’s more,” says Angela Lee, the Cofounder of Angela Roi.
Lee added, “Sustainable fashion also includes protecting animals and humanity. We aim to build a more comprehensive sustainable fashion by exclusively using non-animal materials, treating our factory workers fairly, and becoming eco-friendly.”
Boob Design makes sustainable, fashionable clothes for pregnant and nursing moms. “Since our inception, it’s always been clear that sustainability would factor into everything we do,” says Mia Seipel, Founder and CEO of Boob Design.
“Our target is women who are literally carrying and feeding the future. My mother has been my biggest inspiration, raising us on our family farm in Sweden. Since childhood, my eyes have been opened to how we must tend to our planet for the sake of everyone.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Seipel felt uncertain as to how Boob Design’s business would be impacted. However, consumers continue to indicate that they are interested in supporting sustainable companies.
“The fact that we make clothes that fulfill a clear purpose, are soft and kind to the body, and are sustainably produced, plays a large role in our continued success,” says Seipel.