The 10 best eco-friendly clothing brands of 2022
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Each year, an impressive number 100 billion or more garments are made. Of these, about 20% remain unsold, destined to join the scrap heaps. These fashion leftovers find their way into the landfill, incinerator or shredder, with only a small proportion of clothing being recycled. Additionally, fast fashion is a highly polluting industry and often grapples with ethical issues, from operating as sweatshops to exposing workers to unsafe conditions and exploitation.
But all is not dark and catastrophic. Although it is impossible for a fashion brand to be 100% sustainable, there are alternatives to fast fashion, namely slow fashion. These labels take into account their impact on workers, the environment and the consumer. For this list, we searched for brands known for their sustainability, ethical and quality credentials.
We’ve shortlisted labels based on a variety of criteria, from sourcing materials responsibly, using sustainable textiles, following ethical business practices, conserving resources, incorporating transparency in the supply chain, to commit to fair trade practices and to give back to the community.
So, below you’ll find the best eco-responsible clothing brands to wear all year round, guilt-free.
Organic Basics is a one-stop-shop with sustainability at the heart of its daily essential lines for men and women (see on Organic Basics). For affordable and versatile clothing for the whole family, choose Pact Apparel who are committed to creating fair and environmentally responsible fashion from clean and comfortable organic cotton (see at Pact Apparel).
What to look for when buying sustainable clothing
With sustainability making fashion headlines lately and no clear, single definition, it can be confusing for a responsible shopper. To make it simple, so you can avoid greenwashing, we help you navigate the world of sustainable fashion.
Examine the materials carefully, because notot all materials are created in the same way. It’s good to check if the jeans you’re looking at are made from conventional cotton grown at huge environmental and social cost, compared to organic cotton. Or if that comfortable hemp t-shirt you want to buy is sustainable or not. (Hemp is a low impact crop that requires much less water than conventional cotton and is considered a potentially good alternative). It’s always good to dig deeper.
Today, there are many options when it comes to eco-friendly materials, such as plant-based leathers (think Piñatex made from waste pineapple leaves), Tencel lyocell (made from wood pulp), as well as synthetic fibers such as recycled or recycled polyester. , Econyl (made from regenerated nylon like fishing nets) and more.
Buy brands with third-party verified credentials where possible. A good guide to checking a brand’s credentials is to look for credible third-party certifications. However, smaller independent labels may not have the required certifications. In this case, look for other factors, such as transparency, that bolster their claims. We look at the most common certifications you will come across.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A leading global textile processing standard for organic fibres, it takes into consideration defined ecological and social criteria, supported by certification of the entire textile supply chain. Textiles bearing the GOTS label contain at least 70% certified organic fibres, while a product labeled “organic” contains at least 95% certified organic fibres.
- Fair trade: A fair trade label implies that the clothes have been produced according to strict economic, environmental and social standards. This includes protecting the environment, safe working conditions, funding community development and sustaining livelihoods.
- STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX: This certification indicates that the textiles, from the yarn to the finished product, have been tested for harmful substances and therefore the garments are harmless to human health.
- Blue sign: A Bluesign label is the sign of a responsible textile product that offers the highest degree of safety for consumers. This indicates that it has been manufactured using resources responsibly, with minimal impact on people and the environment.
Check a brand’s transparency – we like transparent brands that share detailed information about their philosophy, return policy and supply chains from farms to finishing plant. A good place to start is to read the brand’s FAQs and impact reports.
Buying durable, high-quality clothes in limited quantities will make you happier than piles of fast fashion that crumble in a few washes. You may pay a higher price up front, but in the long run, you’re likely to get a better cost per wear. You can bask in hoodies or pants that are sustainable, eco-friendly and animal-friendly, fair for workers and safe for your skin, knowing that you’ve made a small difference.
Why trust Treehugger?
Treehugger is committed to making sustainable living easier, starting with helping you build a clean, ethical closet for your family. Slow fashion is gentle on your skin, respectful of the Earth and caring for everyone involved in the creative process.
Writer Neeti Mehra is a slow life coach and sustainability consultant who also has years of experience writing about luxury markets. She prefers to wear hand-spun and organic cotton clothes, and clings to her clothes for a long time.