There was a time when ‘sustainable clothing’ would conjure images of unflattering and suspiciously scratchy styles. Thankfully, there are now a number of brands (and vintage shops) challenging that view.
When it comes to online shopping, there are tips we can take on board when trying to make our wardrobes more planet-friendly, whether it’s organising clothes swaps with friends or investing in timeless, transitional pieces. There are also a number of high street initiatives that allow us to recycle our well-loved clothes when we’re ready to part with them (like H&M’s green boxes, and Ganni’s ‘take back’ scheme).
When you want to invest in new pieces, there are many brands taking steps to minimise the industry’s carbon footprint and implement ethical practices too – all without compromising on style.
Here are 24 sustainable brands to consider investing in. Happy shopping (and when you’re done with your old pieces, think about sharing the love by putting them on eBay or Depop).
Luxury Italian brand, Prada, has launched Re-Nylon, a sustainable line of bags and accessories made of recycled plastic collected from oceans and fishing nets, as well as discarded fabrics.
You can see and buy the collection for the first time in The Corner Shop, a pop-up space in department store Selfridges, which kicks off the renowned retailer's Project Earth - an initiative spotlighting brands and practices that put the environment first.
The launch marks both Selfridges and Prada's commitment to sustainability, and is available to buy exclusively in-store, launching globally on in mid-September.
One of this year's LVMH Prize winners, this brand takes its name from its British-Bulgarian founders, Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena. The brand has quickly racked up a list of premium stockists since the launch of the label in 2017, including Matches, Farfetch, and Browns, and has become a street style hit thanks to its distinctive leather-belt skirts.
The designers use unique recycled and dead stock fabrics to make the skirts, including vintage fabrics sourced from Bulgaria and the UK, which is where their sustainable credentials come in. The added benefit? Each skirt is unique. You're going to want the necklaces and dresses too.
Olivia Rose The Label
Handmade to order, this female-founded brand constructs figure-hugging, adorable, events dresses often featuring ruching, puff sleeves and ice cream hues. The brand keeps waste to a minimum and fashion slow.
PAPER London's Swimwear
PAPER London's swimwear is made from recycled fishing nets, which would have taken 600 years to decompose.
'Nothing is more pertinent that the quote from Robert Swan: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”' PAPER London's founder Philippa Thackeray explains.
'We all need to being taking whatever action we can to save the planet - as a brand it is our responsibility to be sustainable.'
Brazillian born, London based designer Paula Gerbase operates on her own terms, choosing to produce jewellery and clothes at a slow pace, side-stepping the traditional fashion calendar.
Her carefully considered jewellery, and light-as-air separates, stand the test of time as pared back styles intended to work with your existing wardrobe (so you won't be replacing them in a hurry).
They're understatedly cool too. Don't take our word for it, take Dua Lipa's, as she was recently spotted in one of Gerbase's signature ribbed tops.
Theory, the New York-based brand known for premium-quality wardrobe staples, has been committed to sustainability since the launch of its Good Initiative in 2017.
Theory for Good spotlights the supply chain, with the brand's aim to make us - the customers - aware of where our clothing comes from, and whose skills contribute to the cool, classic pieces that form the foundations of our wardrobe.
Having focussed on wool, sourced responsibly in Tasmania and South America, and linen, consciously crafted in Italy, the brand has now upped its sustainable credentials with Good Cotton, a newly launched capsule collection.
You can read about how the cotton is carefully sourced here, as well as buy the minimal, easy-to-wear pieces that will no doubt see you through a dozen springs.
Pringle of Scotland
Pringle of Scotland, best known for its knitwear, has naturally put recycled fibres to good use, creating limited edition jumpers.
The knits show a commitment to the environment in more ways than one, featuring a graphic earth print and the word 'Re-Loved'.
No new raw materials were used in the production of the two jumpers, made with 100% recycled fibres (even the garment tags are recycled).
You can count on the brand's knits to stay in style, proven by its collection of reissued genderless styles, so consider these sweaters a long-term investment.
The mother-daughter duo behind MaisonCléo have made waves across Instagram for their super-slow fashion offerings.
Made-to-order from deadstock fabric and released for sale only once a week (as well as via a select collection on Net-A-Porter), there is little waste.
House Of Sunny
Possibly the funnest sustainable brand about, House Of Sunny specialises in Instagram-perfect bold bags, outerwear and knitwear.
‘For me sustainability is an attitude, our process is slow but takes into consideration all environmental factors to make sure we are taking care of planet, from the factories we produce in to the materials we use.' House Of Sunny founder Sunny Williams told ELLE UK
'We take our time and know the in’s and out’s of what are product is made up of and where it comes from.'
SONIA CARRASCO specialises is wearable workwear with a twist, and it's all sustainably made.
'At SONIA CARRASCO we exclusively work with recycled, organic or vegan materials, not only textiles but also tags, labels, packaging, papers, etc', founder and designer Sonia Carrasco told ELLE UK
'Having a long term plan for our company helps us activate more sustainable processes. For example, we recycle all the waste generated by the manufacturing of the collections and, as soon as we have enough quantity, create new fabrics from these leftovers therefore maximising our control over the supply chain.
'We follow the rule of "never enough" - that's why we will always keep improving our processes and we will never stop researching and learning the latest technologies, innovations and possible partnerships to be in the state of the art of responsibility.'
Made with a seamless 3D knitting technique, PRISM Squared's swimwear, sportswear, underwear and shapewear creates almost no waste in production. Plus, its dyeing process is Greenpeace-certified.
The multi-purpose items can take wearer from work to workout and from three to six months of pregnancy, due to how they have been made.
Marine Serre is among a new generation of designers that have built sustainability into their brand from the off-set. Since launching her brand in 2016, the winner of the 2017 LVMH Prize has become renowned for her futuristic style - in every sense, from exploring new ways to incorporate sustainability into her work, to moving fashion forward with her innovative clothing.
Serre's signature crescent moon print has been seen on everyone from Beyonce to Kendall Jenner, and Cardi B and Cate Blanchett have been known to work a full runway look. You can learn more about Serre's sustainable production in a series of videos, titled REGENERATED, on her Instagram.
If there's one thing we're familiar with during the pandemic, it's working from home in our most comfortable styles - that means anything with stretch.
Wolford, the go-to brand for basics including shapewear and leggings, long before Kim K came along with SKIMS, is now even more desirable thanks to its commitment to sustainability.
It's the first and only company in apparel and textiles to hold two certificates stating they are Cradle to Cradle Certified™ at gold level. (That means it's legit.) Its recently launched Aurora collection, available via its website and Net-a-Porter, is made of biodegradable fabrics. But, that being said, the styles are also so timeless and well-made that you'll be wearing them for decades.
Live The Process
Not only is this California-based brand sustainably-made: 'At Live The Process, we’ve integrated a new crop of innovative fabrics made from sustainable yarns into our latest collection—peachskin, boro, thea and easy-care merino—which not only help mitigate our carbon footprint, but also feel look and amazing', the brand told us.
But they are also ethical, working with a small factory where they closely work with their employees.
Baum Und Pferdgarten
Meghan Markle's favourite trainer brand has been changing the sneaker game since 2005.
'[Veja] produce environmentally friendly sneakers made with raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture, without chemicals or polluting processes.' The brand told ELLE UK
'For example, VEJA use organic, agroecological and fair-trade cotton to make the sneakers canvas, rubber grown in the Amazon rainforest for the soles and recycled plastic bottles to create a mesh.'
Founder and designer Natasha Fernandes Anjo uses vintage, leftover, damaged or deadstock fabrics to create her adorable handbags.
'I think people are finally tiring of living in a throw away culture. Now more than ever we need to realise there is no "away". We need to find long lasting joy in the things we own, use what we already have, rent and re-home. These are the fundamentals of Roop, I make and send out my items with so much love and care with the hope that my customers will treasure their pieces,' Fernandes Anjo told ELLE UK.
For those seeking stylish and sustainable basics such as underwear, swimwear and loungewear then Baserange is what you are looking for.
'It has always been a part of our brand design to ensure that our impact on the environment is as minimal as possible.' Baserange's co-founder Blandine de Verdelhan told ELLE UK .
'We only use natural fibres including organic cotton, bamboo, wool or linen - all of which are biodegradable - and for items such as our swimwear which may require the use of synthetics, we choose to work with recycled PA or PE. We also develop products using left over fabric, as a means to reduce waste.'
'It isn’t just our environmental impact that we consider; the health and wellbeing of our workers and customers is also really important to us. We produce our garments in Europe, close to our warehouse, with family-run factories with good working conditions. Our community is what drives us and we very much look upon them as family.'
BITE stands for By Independent Thinkers for Environmental Progress. So sustainability is – undoubtedly – this brand's top priority.
Its ‘Thinkers’ are plural because the Stockholm and London-based brand was founded by a team of four, united by its shared interest in the environment.
Their slinky, silk styles and contemporary tailoring are made using natural fibres, and all materials are 100% ecologically certified with the Global Organic Textile Standard Certification.
The ethnically minded brand also ensures all staff are on a living wage. The styles are sustainable too, with an emphasis on timeless styles that you can wear on rotation for years and years and years and... you get the idea.