When you think of fashion brands, “ethical” and “environmental friendliness” are most likely not the first words to come to mind. First there are visions of sweatshops in impoverished communities far across on the the other side of the world. Then there are tales of excessive fabric waste, pesticides used to grow cotton, and water abuse. But as the world is forced to turn its attention to protecting the environment, the fashion industry has followed suit.
Now, it is becoming fashionable to be eco-friendly. Many designers are integrating eco-conscious practices to their manufacturing and production activities. The following five fashion brands are some of the more affordable and beautiful of the bunch and are worth your support!
1. Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney was one of the first designers to embrace an eco-friendly fashion concept, using organic and recycled fabrics as well as low-impact dyes. Anti-fur and anti-leather, all of the brand’s studios in the UK are fueled by wind energy while stores outside the UK are powered by renewable energy. Nearly 50 percent of all Stella McCartney’s operations are run on 100 percent renewable, green energy. In 2012, the company recycled 34.3 metric tons of waste that otherwise would have gone to landfills. Of the brands listed, this is perhaps the most pricy, but there are pieces that are reasonable and worth the slight extra buck. Prices range $64 to $4,000
2. Daniel Silverstein
Since 2011, Daniel Silverstein has been using organic, recycled and ethical materials in an attempt to create a 100 percent sustainable fashion collection. Daniel Silverstein sources its materials locally and only expands outside of the U.S. if necessary. The designs are edgier and sexier than what you’d normally expect from an eco-friendly fashion line. Prices: $175-$700.
3. People Tree
People Tree is a Fair Trade apparel company started by Safia Minney that was born out of the idea that fashion could empower impoverished countries through building skill sets and reinvesting in their respective communities. What began selling woven and naturally dyed hand bags, clothing and clogs made by women in Bangladesh has now become an example in the world of so-called “ethical” fashion. The company collaborates with textile artisan groups to adhere to environmental standards and utilizes eco-textiles and organic cotton. By 2004, People Tree had expanded to some 20 different countries. In 2006, People Tree became a Topshop concession. Prices range from some $30 to $230.
4. Feral Childe
Manufactured locally in New York, Feral Childe‘s clothing uses sustainable fibers. The company, which was jumpstarted by Moriah Carlson of New York and Alice Wu of Oakland, CA, disposes of production waste by donating leftover fabric to schools or transferring it to a recycling facility. The brand also utilizes water-based silk screening, low-impact dyes, domestic printers and dye houses and less-water intensive digital printing for silks. Designs are intricate, playful, and detailed, with prices ranging from $80 to $400.
With prices from as low as $60 and as high as $350, Loomstate has accomplished what most mainstream mass-produced lines haven’t: eco-friendliness. The company uses sustainable materials, such as tencel and organic cotton, reduces water consumption, minimizes manufacturing waste and is trying to achieve a closed-loop product life-cycle. Loomstate also has a 321 collection, in which each garment can be worn up to five different ways. Prices generally fall under $100.
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Photo Credit: AndyRobertsPhotos