Best sustainable fashion brands that put a focus on ethical and responsible practices

·11-min read
 (Press images)
(Press images)

Whilst the conflict between sustainability and fashion is obvious, buying with a more conscious mindset from brands that give something back is more important than ever - especially now shopping with an eco-conscious twist doesn’t mean you’re limited for choice.

The terminology can get tricky, with words like ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘responsible’ being bandied about left, right and centre, but try to not get too bogged down in the jargon. Broadly speaking, brands that take into account their impact on the environment, social issues, and workers conditions are the ones to look out for as well as those that offer charitable donations with each purchase.

Perhaps it’s Asket, who have full transparency on their manufacturing process, from the CO2 emissions to the source of the fabric, Re/Done, who use landfill-destined clothing to create unique luxury pieces, or House Of Sunny, an independent label that creates limited runs, often using a pre-order system, to minimise waste - whatever the sustainable direction, investing in pieces from brands minimising their footprint on the planet is the way to go.

And it’s important to do your research - with sustainability as a sales-boosting keyword, it’s easy to fall prey to those who are masters in greenwashing, appearing sustainable to conscious shoppers with no real substance to their claims. Look out for official sustainability reports for reassurance on their practices - or if something appears vague or uncertain, don’t be afraid to reach out directly for some clarification.

You don’t need to buy new, either. With vintage shops, charity shops, and rental services galore, investing in circular fashion has never been easier - and is even making moves to replace the fast fashion powerhouses - all you need to do is look at the sponsor of Love Island 2022, eBay, in place of their traditional partners, to see that buying pre-owned is on the up.

So, to save you the legwork, we’ve put together a handy guide of brands that fit the responsible bill without compromising on style, with options for both men and women.

Happy guilt-free shopping!

Womenswear & Menswear

Asket

It doesn’t get any more sustainable than Asket. Not only does the brand offer full transparency, including information on CO2 emissions, direct cost for each garment, and traceable fabrics, but it also commits to a lifecycle responsibility to encourage caring for, repairing, and disposing of garments responsibly - and to top it off, the pieces are timeless classics that will never go out of fashion, so you can keep them in your wardrobe for years to come.

From denim to jersey, cashmere to merino wool, the brand uses sustainable fabrics to create a range of well made wardrobe staples for men and women. Starting the journey back in 2015 in the search for the perfect men’s T-shirt, they’ve since grown by roughly three to four wardrobe essentials per year, including the overshirt, the pique polo, and the standard jeans.

Buy now, Asket

Sheep Inc

Winner of Positive Luxury’s ‘Environmental Innovator of the Year’ award and the first carbon negative clothing brand, Sheep Inc are leading the way for sustainable fashion.

From designing T-shirts, hoodies, cardigans, and jumpers using ZQ-certified merino wool from regenerative carbon negative New Zealand based farms, to creating detachable tags for each garment that let you trace your jumper back to the exact sheep that it came from, the label combines age-old practices with modern technologies to end up with first-class knitwear for men and women that you’ll cherish all season. The only problem - you’ll want every colour.

Buy now, Sheep Inc

Everlane

Creating wardrobe essentials for men and women that have the least impact on the planet is Everlane’s MO. The offering is expansive, from quality denim, to the perfect T-shirt, to the comfy knitwear you’ll never want to take off - there’s something for everyone.

The brand has a focus on using sustainable materials, like recycled fibres and organic cotton, reducing carbon emissions to become Net-Zero by 2050 (or sooner), and enhancing livelihoods worldwide, including donating $1.4m to fund social and environmental efforts and ensuring the factories pay higher than minimum wage. It’s aiming to leave the fashion industry cleaner than when it started.

Buy now, Everlane

Daniel W. Fletcher

You may know designer Daniel W. Fletcher for his stint on Netflix’s Next In Fashion where he reached the final, or for his work as the creative director at Fiorucci - either way, he’s one to watch.

A London-based designer, he’s an expert in casual luxury - from expert tailoring, and luxe fabrics, to classic silhouettes - and draws on British culture, current affairs, and social issues to inform his thoughtful collections. Originally a menswear brand but offering more womenswear in each collection, his pieces have a genderless feel with a mix of masculinity and femininity.

Known for his use of leftover fabrics, his signature patchwork method where he uses small scraps of fabrics to create an intricate textile that forms the basis of uses jackets, shorts, and blankets, is a case in point of his clever use of sustainabile methods without compromising on design.

Buy now, Daniel W. Fletcher

Re/Done

If you’re into one of a kind pieces that pack a sustainable punch, look no further than LA-based brand Re/Done, which takes the old and makes it new again. From transforming vintage Levi’s into contemporary designs, to reinterpreting iconic G.H.Bass loafers using carefully sourced fabrics, the label is a master in reimagining heritage American pieces.

It’s a brand that has been setting an example for the fashion industry since 2014 by diverting over 240,000 garments from landfill, leading the way in recycled T-shirts with a collaboration with Hanes, and more recently launching Re/Sell to allow customers to give pre-loved Re/Done pieces a second life. Not to mention, the label also donates to countless charities, and places importance on manufacturing responsibly as well as on the wellbeing of its employees.

Buy now, Net-A-Porter

House Of Sunny

Wavy prints, Y2K silhouettes and a Seventies aesthetic - mash it all together and you’ve got hype-about Gen Z favourite, House Of Sunny. Founded in 2011, the brand’s now all over your Instagram feed, amassing an impressive over 613k followers in the decade since - and it’s clear to see why.

From the bright colours to the bold designs, not to mention it’s responsible manufacturing practices, including the use of sustainable fabrics, a pre-order system, and the use of leftovers to make accessories ensuring zero waste, the label has all of the desirable credentials for the sustainably-minded younger generation - and it’s affordable price point means it’s accessible for everyone.

Buy now, Urban Outfitters

Pangaia

Pangaia is trail blazing when it comes to science-based development of sustainable materials. Fabrics range from FLWRDWN, a down-fill material made from a combination of wildflowers, a biopolymer and aerogel used to fill puffer jackets, to C-FIBER, a jersey cotton alternative that combines eucalyptus pulp and seaweed powder for a water-saving and energy efficient textile.

Whether you’re in the market for a quality T-shirt, activewear, boxy tailoring, or a tracksuit, there’s something for everyone - and every garment comes in just about every colour.

Buy now, Pangaia

Womenswear

BITE Studios

Meaning ‘By Independent Thinkers for the Environment’, it’s clear to see that Stockholm and London based brand BITE is committed to creating clothes responsibly with as little impact on the planet as possible. The designs are pared down, classic, and super chic, with a focus on using top quality sustainable materials to create a capsule wardrobe that will stand the test of time.

For its entire collections, 96 per cent of the fabrics used are from recycled, organic, or low-impact origin, meaning each piece is created with the lightest environmental footprint. Even better, you can send back any unwanted garments for a 20 per cent refund of its selling price through BITE buyback, meaning the brand can extend the lifespan of textiles that could otherwise end up in landfill.

Buy now, BITE Studios

Aligne

For easy to wear, versatile, and well-made clothes at a great price point, Aligne is the place to go, whether you’re in the market for knitwear, denim, dresses, or outerwear. The best part? The entire ethos is built around ethical practices.

Each design is made from at least 50 per cent ssustainable materials and over half of the collection as 100 per cent sustainable, while it stresses the importance of regulating the partner factories. The label ensures workplace standards and conscious methods like zero waste, waterless production, and renewable energy are used, even down to the packaging which is made using recycled fibres.

Buy now, Aligne

Nobody’s Child

Nobody’s Child offers transitional pieces that are designed to be worn time and time again and not end up in the landfill, from floaty floral dresses to boxy tailoring to cosy knitwear.

Fabric choice accounts for up to 80 per cent of a garment’s social and environmental footprint, so the brand’s focus is on sourcing materials that are made using more sustainable fibres and finding factories that ensure good working conditions and manufacturing processes.

Encouraging you to shop with a conscience, the brand has created initiatives to reduce textile waste such as creating the collections in small quantities, repurposing leftover fabric as well as donating unused fabric to up and coming designers to support the next generation.

Buy now, Nobody’s Child

Stine Goya

Since founding her eponymous label in 2006, Stine Goya has been spreading joy with vibrant colours and hand-painted prints that inject confidence in the lives of her loyal fan base. The collections are categorised by sparkly two-pieces, bright knitwear, and optimistic outerwear.

The brand has a commitment to sustainable practices, from reducing waste and sourcing responsible fabrics, like recycled polyester and organic cotton, down to the design of the new store they’re opening in London which has been thought up in collaboration with design duo Wang & Söderström, who use 3D printed elements and responsibly sourced materials.

Buy now, Selfridges

Menswear

Wax London

London-based label Wax London creates timeless menswear using carefully sourced materials and manufacturing processes that have less impact on the planet.

The brand’s signature overshirt, for example, is made from a fabric created in a family-run, hydroelectricity-powered mill in France using recycled and organic cotton, as well as sustainably sourced buttons. Like the rest of the collection, it’s a year-round staple designed with versatility in mind - whether you’d like to dress it up for the evening or down on the weekend.

Buy now, Wax London

SMR Days

Relaxed dressing is at the heart of SMR Days, with a sense of ease laced through their laid back shirts, relaxed suiting, and breezy trousers. Whether you’re on a boat in the Greek Islands or having a laid back evening at home, the brand’s pieces, which are always made using natural fibres like cotton, silk, and bamboo flax, are designed to be thrown on for an effortless yet stylish ensemble.

Using centuries-old techniques like bandhani dyeing, ikat weaving, and intricate hand embroidery, the label has a commitment to working with Indian artisans to keep the ancient techniques alive for the younger generations. What’s more, the factories and producers are certified to provide equal pay and safe working conditions for their employees.

Buy now, MatchesFashion

Basic Rights

Borne out of The Vaccines’ guitarist Freddie Cowan’s desire to design an easy-to-wear creative uniform, Basic Rights’ collections are full of tailored classics, elevated utilitarian workwear, and timeless pieces that you can throw on for an instantly smart look, without compromising on comfort.

Their fabrics are sourced from larger luxury brands, using their end of roll supplies which ensures high quality, whilst minimising waste and avoiding the environmental damage of excess fabric development or made-to-order materials. From the trousers, to the shirts and T-shirts, as soon as you try anything from the brand you’ll feel the expert craftsmanship and design that goes into each piece - and you won’t look back.

Buy now, Basic Rights

Love Brand & Co

Love Brand & Co. was founded by Oliver Tomalin in 2010 with a commitment to protecting endangered and vulnerable wildlife. Members of 1% For The Planet, the brand donates a percentage of annual net revenue to fund worldwide projects that promote human-wildlife coexistance, as well as donating products to communities as a gesture of thanks for their important role in ensuring a future for endagered wildlife - at the moment, they’re working with families in the Assam region in India who help with elephant conservation.

With stores in Chelsea, Notting Hill and Barbados, the brand offer a range of swimwear, polos, t-shirts and linen pieces for men and children. The swimwear is created from recycled plastic bottles with bold prints that take inspiration from the conservation projects that the label supports with rhino, tuna and elephant designs.

Buy now, Love Brand & Co