You may have heard of the term ‘eco fashion’, but do you know what it is? The fashion world often throws around buzzwords like “sustainable” and “organic”, there’s even an Eco Fashion Week Australia every year, but what really is eco fashion, and what labels are eco-friendly?
Eco fashion involves so much more than a label simply being environmentally conscious; it spans across the entire production line, from the materials your clothing is made from to the factories the clothes are made in.
Organic materials, water waste, transparency, recycling, working conditions and fair pay all fall under the umbrella of ‘eco fashion’, and brands with a sustainable focus have been steadily gaining traction in the fashion world with celebrities such as Emma Watson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Wilde and Meghan Markle, all championing eco-friendly labels.
As the world’s environmental issues become more serious we need to start to change our practices, and eco-friendly fashion designers are paving the way for consumers to make more responsible choices about the clothes they wear.
Here are the top 10 eco fashion brands:
Ethics: Uses sustainable fabrics, purchases carbon offsets, pays living wages.
Best for: On trend eco-friendly fashion.
Reformation is one of our favourite brands and their dresses are a must-have staple for any girl’s wardrobe. Their clothing is made solely from sustainable and up-cycled materials in a fair wage environment. The people at Reformation put sustainability at the core of their business and operate with complete transparency, sending out an annual sustainability report to customers.
2. Ginger & Smart
Ethics: Ethically accredited, uses recyclable and biodegradable fabrics.
Best for: Sustainable timeless pieces.
Ginger & Smart embody the phrase “quality over quantity” and the Australian-based fashion label is dedicated to high-quality timeless pieces with a low global impact. Most of their designs are made from recyclable and biodegradable fabrics and are made to minimise water usage and waste. To top it off, the majority of their materials are tested for chemicals that may be harmful to humans and the environment according to the Oeko-Tex 100 Standard.
Ethics: Fair Trade Certified collections, organic cotton, environmental sustainability.
Best for: Fair trade outdoor clothing.
Patagonia has been dedicated from day one to the protection and preservation of the environment. The outdoor living brand uses recycled materials and organic cotton to make their clothing with a high portion of their materials, including their polyester, nylon, and wool, are made from recycled fabrics. The California based company also made ground-breaking strides when it came to their labour policy by committing to trace and audit almost all of their facilities, publicly list their suppliers and ensure that any subcontracting adheres to code standards, for which they received the second highest rating in the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report.
4. Spell & The Gypsy Collective
Ethics: Reusing and recycling garments, use of ethically responsible dyes, social advocacy initiative per collection, use of sustainable fibres.
Best for: Bohemian chic.
Created by two sisters in Byron Bay, Australian label Spell & The Gypsy has a plan to become one of the most eco-conscious brands in the world by 2025, and they will probably succeed. Having joined brands like Patagonia and Stella McCartney in the signing of Fashion Loved by Forests Campaign, Spell & The Gypsy have pledged to use biodegradable and eco-friendly fabrics as well working to reduce their carbon footprint by aiming to have all their owned facilities carbon neutral by 2025.
Ethics: Traceability and non-hazardous materials, garment manufacture transparency, garment aftercare.
Best for: Sophisticated pieces.
KITX was founded by Sydney based designer Kit Willow, who creates truly stunning and sophisticated pieces. The cotton that is used by KITX is certified organic and cultivated using no pesticides or any other nasties, ensuring no water is polluted in the process. All the material’s KITX use are sustainably sourced and their supply partners must follow internationally recognised standards for safe working conditions and fair employment.
6. Ninety Percent
Ethics: Shares 90% of profits, ethically sourced materials.
Best for: Stylish street wear.
Ninety Percent is a London-based label that launched just this year and is dedicated to sharing 90% of their profits with charities of the customer’s choosing. Their pieces are best described as low maintenance but still feminine, and most of their materials are organic and renewable fabrics.
7. Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela Hearst and her namesake fashion label is an aftercare luxury brand who counts Emma Watson as one of their biggest fans. Gabriela Hearst is aiming to be entirely plastic-free in their designs by April 2019, including packaging. The designer was recently awarded the 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize and nominated for the prestigious CFDA Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent.
8. Simon Miller
Ethics: Uses organic mills, ozone technology
Best for: The best eco-friendly handbags
Eco-friendly American brand Simon Miller is well known in the accessory world for their bucket bags, which can be found on the arm of almost every fashion influencer on Instagram. The label is dedicated to sustainability and uses organic mills to conserve water and reduces energy consumption in the production of their clothing and accessories by incorporating ozone technology.
Ethics: Transparency, organic materials, fair trade sourcing
Best for: Sustainable shoes
French brand Veja makes environmentally friendly sneakers whose soles are all made with 30 to 40 % natural rubber. Veja operates with full transparency by detailing the production chain for their customers as well as all the materials being fair trade or organic. Their sneakers have been worn by eco friendly royal, Meghan Markle.
10. Nimble Activewear
Ethics: Uses fabric made from recycled bottles, Down Pass Certified, fair working conditions and pay
Best for: Sunday activewear
This Bondi-based company produces functional and fashionable designs that are ethically produced and sustainable. Nimble’s COMPRESSLITE range uses ethically sourced fabric made out of recycled bottles. Nimble Activewear also manufactures their clothes in Taiwan where external parties monitor the work conditions to ensure all employees are operating in good conditions with fair pay.