In case you haven’t heard, green is in.
Whether you heard it first from the scientific community, Obama, the Pope, or DiCaprio. The message is clear. Climate change is breaking the planet. And for the most part, we’re sold on the idea.
But while governments are sluggish to react, and ice caps are melting. It isn’t all bad news. Savvy citizens and fashionistas around the world are starting a revolution in the way we produce and consume. In a fight-back against big business.
If you’re wondering what the environment has to do with fashion, just know that after oil, fashion is the second most polluting industry.
The good news is that for individuals, our greatest power of all might be how we choose to spend our cash! And for just that reason, below are 5 of our favourite eco-friendly fashion brands. Along with some of their pioneering projects.
Patagonia has been fine-tuning their business for more than 45 years. Setting the highest standards in eco-friendly production.
With an expansive range of menswear, womenswear, accessories, as well as sportswear, Patagonia is your one-stop shop for all things eco-kind.
They’ve left no stone unturned in their hunt for the most eco-friendly product imaginable. They’ve also raised the bar for new brands looking to do the same. Factories are built to store and make use of rainwater, and technical fabrics ensure that Patagonia’s clothing is built to last. Defying the culture of fast fashion.
The Worn Wear initiative is all about extending the lifespan of your Patagonia garments. Keeping quality materials in use, and out of landfills.
If for whatever reason, you stop wearing or damage a Patagonia garment, you can return it to one of their stores to be repaired and renewed, or recycled and resold. They’ll even give you a voucher for something new!
Patagonia supports small, grassroots activist groups, on-the-ground, all around the world.
Rather than focusing on a few large charities, they donate small grants to hundreds of activist groups, where the money makes all the difference.
The People Tree
Since the nineties, The People Tree has made their name by putting power back into the hands of producers.
Their elegant womenswear collections offer understated basics, sumptuous summer dresses, snuggly winter knits, and everything in between. Best of all, many of their products are hand-made in small batches, meaning you can get your hands on something unique, without the hefty price tag.
The People Tree was founded in 1991, putting farmers, garment workers, and artisans at the forefront of their mission with Fair Trade pay. As such, they were well ahead of their time, becoming the first clothing brand to carry the Fair Trade product mark.
They were also the first brand based in the developing world to achieve a fully integrated supply chain certified with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard.)
Without going into too much detail, this essentially recognises use of natural (non-toxic) dyes, organic materials, and minimal water use.
A front-runner in the eco-friendly footwear market. Veja make ultra trendy athletic trainers for men, women and kids.
Founded by a pair of friends in France with the idea of sourcing sustainable, organic materials to produce footwear with a conscience. They even offer a vegan range!
But there’s more than one way for a brand to be ethical. Alongside their partner charities, Veja helps integrate disadvantaged people into society through work and training schemes. Made to ensure that their staff gain valuable skills for the broader work market.
Veja make all their soles using 30-40% natural rubber grown in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. This practice liberates production from oil and animal produce, sustains local communities, and helps preserve the rainforest. Over 120,000 hectares worth of it, since 2004!
The guys at Veja started with the idea that we, as citizens, can more effectively change the lives of people around the world with our consumption habits than we can through the ballot box.
So how does a brand create a better producer-consumer balance? Well, In 2017, Veja spent around double the going market price on cotton. Plus, for every kilo of cotton produced, they invested a premium to help finance local producers in the long-term. So, that’s one way of doing it!
Kings of Indigo
Kings of Indigo (or KOI) is named after the iconic koi carp. Known for swimming upstream, it serves as a symbol of determination and a rebellious nature.
Founded in 2012, KOI has become synonymous with environmentally friendly production. And is now stocked in over 250 carefully chosen retailers, in a dozen countries.
Repair, Recycle, Reuse
The Triple R programme extends the life-cycle of KOI denim products while reducing waste. They supply repair kits for customers and host Repair Events to renew damaged denim.
If your jeans are beyond repair, then they’ll recycle the fabric to make luxury patches for repair work.
The veggie denim project is the first large-scale production of denim using vegetarian only dyes. Not only are these dyes animal-friendly, they can also be made using less water, 30% less energy, and are chemical free.
Established for a little over a decade, Finisterre began life as a British surfwear brand. Inspired by a love of the sea.
Since their early days, they have evolved as champions of sustainable production. Creating truly unique, durable garments.
Bowmont Merino Wool
When the team at Finisterre first approached Lesley Prior – the “guardian of the last 28 Bowmont Merino Sheep on the planet” – they knew they’d found their prize. The fabric offers the durability of Shetland wool with the fine quality of Merino.
Today, the flock is more than 300 strong. Baa-rilliant!
Econyl® was founded with a simple mission, to reverse the damage caused by man-made plastics in the ocean. Finisterre collaborates with Econyl® to produce high-performance swimwear using recycled fishing nets and other waste retrieved from the sea.
In the past, the main barrier to eco-friendly products has always been the premium price tag. And we all understand why big brands have profited from cutting corners and making products with short life spans.
But the brands above are helping to prove that sustainable consumption is accessible to us all, without breaking the bank.
Though many eco-conscious brands are still young, it’s clear that what we’re seeing is more than a trend. And so long as brands make it big with eco-friendly messages, it’s sure that more will follow suit.
In the words of Veja co-founder Tristan Lecomte, “today, consumption habits have a far greater impact on the standard of living of other citizens than voting ballots.”
Who said you couldn’t save the world while shopping?