As if on cue, Labor Day weekend ended and it ushered in fall temperatures in the Northeast. Of course, as I’m writing this parts of California, Oregon and Washington are still on fire which means even if you aren’t ready to invest in fall fashion right now you may at least enjoy the distraction. The good news is these pieces aren’t pleasures you need to feel guilty about but are designed with the plight of climate change in mind. These ethical fashion brands are analyzing every aspect of their business – from their use of fabric, their packaging to their suppliers and sewers to optimize efficiency, eliminate waste and treat their workers fairly. Invest away!
Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl creative director Amy Powney is credited with turning this British label into a sustainable brand. Not only do they employ eco-friendly fibers like lyocell, linen, organic cotton and wool but they are committed to reducing waste, water use and pollution. Supply chains are where a lot of corners are typically cut both environmentally and ethically, but theirs is fully traceable meaning they know how their clothes are being made and who is making them. Check out Powney’s articles on sustainable fashion in British Vogue.
Designer Maggie Hewitt takes locally made to another level. All Maggie Marilyn clothing is made within an hours drive of their New Zealand headquarters. They lay out the practices of all of her factories on their website and you can find out exactly which pieces were made where (try that H+M and Zara!). On top of that, they use deadstock and organic materials which minimizes waste, water use and chemical and pesticide pollution.
Baum und Pferdgarten
Rikke Baumgarten and Helle Hestehave founded Baum und Pferdgarten in Copenhagen in 1999 before sustainability was really a thing but they have set course to improve their practices dramatically between now and 2024. They currently use 50% recycled polyester, are mapping their supply chain, increasing their use of sustainable materials, and improving their packaging to be more recycleable, compostable and plastic free. They are working with their suppliers to add complaint boxes and an anonymous email contact point for workers.
French designer Marine Serre is concerned with the quality of our existence. This was the opening question of her Fall 2020 fashion show: “The human question is now how many can possibly survive within the current system but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive?” Beyond the conceptual, Serre has taken a practical approach to solving fashions contribution to climate change by reducing waste. By upcycling or taking existing clothing or material and making it into something new she is reducing what ends up in landfills. This dress is made from regenerated deadstock leather and the balaclava and sweater are repurposed wool which means she’s also tackling the disposable, synthetic mask dilemna.
Chopova Lowena designers Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena have united a network of grandma’s in Bulgaria and Turkey to make their collections. This look uses deadstock fabric but their Turkish female artisans employ a 300 year old technique used to make tiles and have applied it to make their jeans.
Gabriela Hearst set the backdrop of her Fall Winter 2020 collection with bales of recycled paper. #Reducereuserecycle was the theme of her collection illustrated by this coat made out of repurposed Turkish kilims and chunky knits handmade by the Manos del Uruguay (a non profit organization that provides work to artisan women from rural areas in Uruguay) using more recycled cashmere yarn than in previous seasons.
Rave Review isn’t your typical, minimalist Scandinavian brand. There is nothing simple or straightforward about their designs or their process. The two young Swedish designers behind Rave Review, Josephine Bergqvist and Livia Schück, make their ENTIRE collection out of second-hand fabrics and clothes. Even their name is recycled. They found it on an old tag and decided to use it but nothing is second rate about their creations.
Bevza is the creation of Ukrainian designer Svetlana Bevza. Her minimalist clothes are meant to be investments to keep for years. Absent are any trends, fads or excess embellishment. Beyond her ethos that less is more, she uses 100% recycled polyester in her knits or natural fibers like wool and non-toxic dyes to make prints. Typical Ukrainian design is heavy on the use of fur but Bevza uses only faux fur or in her Fall collection she used a mink fur print on a puffer jacket.
Kitx stands for Kindness, Integrity, Transparency, plus X for the future. This Australian brand uses fabrics like linen and hemp which require less water and pesticides to grow and recycled jersey and nylon made from plastic fished from the sea. For every third person that signs up to their database, they plant a tree with Carbon Neutral, a company that aims to reverse climate change by planting trees.
This German minimalist men’s and women’s brand that uses 97% recycled, natural, biodegradable or bio-based fabrics. AEANCE is at the forefront of using the latest sustainable technology including glue bonded seams, laser cutting, water-repellent treatments from renewable resources, biodegradable fabrics, bionic membranes, recycled yarns and the world’s first recycled elastane yarn from Japan. All garments are manufactured in Portugal and designed to be season less, timeless and complementary so they can be worn together in different ways. Part fashion and part performance, they incorporate athletic-wear details like vent holes, internal arm cuffs, concealed buttons and inner pockets.