In the last few years, sustainability in the fashion industry has turned from a trickle to a something of a deluge. Amongst a climate crisis, a war against plastic and the threat of a lifeless ocean, sustainability is no longer a buzzword but an absolute essential to ensure our planet’s survival. And the fashion industry is finally cottoning on.
With such awareness of the issues comes a demand from consumers — in the fashion industry, that translates into a want for brands that are transparent in their supply chain, ethical in their use of fibres and conscious of reducing unnecessary packaging and which avoid the use of plastic. Greta Thunburg — hailed by media not as the voice of a generation but the saviour of our planet (a massive responsibility residing on the head of some very small shoulders) — is indicative of how the fashion industry needs to adapt if it’s going to survive. Today’s youth is, after all, tomorrow’s consumers. TV programmes like the BBC’s War on Plastic and David Attenborough’s Netflix debut Our Planet — and his recent speech on climate change at Glastonbury Festival — are further increasing the conversation.
Thankfully, this increase in awareness has resulted in more and more sustainable brands coming to the fore. Sneaker brand Good News, stocked at Dover Street Market, is crafted from entirely sustainable and reused fabrics and is shipped via transport method called the Green Route — meaning it is sent using the least carbon-heavy method possible. Madrid-based swimwear brand Now_Then makes all its swim and surf pieces in Spain out of recycled plastics, while Scandi brand BITE have a capsule of 20 pieces that are refreshed every season in new colourways to promote timeless clothing and to prevent the creation of endless collections with wasted stock going on sale.
Here’s our edit of the best sustainable brands to know now. You’re welcome.
Good News shoes was founded four years ago, by Nia Jones, a former fashion buyer for high street brands, and Ben Tattersall, a former fashion marketer. Now stocked at Selfridges, Liberty and Dover Street Market, the brand’s tennis sneaker silhouette is updated with a chunky corrugated platform sole that distinguishes them from all the other brands on the market. With soles crafted from recycled rubber, insoles made from recycled fibres found in mattresses and organic cotton uppers, these sneakers are super sustainable and super chic.
Bagger 2 sneaker, £110, Good News
Mother of Pearl
British label Mother of Pearl has retraced its entire supply chain from the alpaca farms in Peru to finished garment — its entirely transparent model led to a partnership with BBC Earth, unveiled at London Fashion Week. This silky mini dress, in a cool polka dot print, was crafted from organic ‘peace silk’, whereby silk is made from cocoons with no harm to the silk worm inside.
Julia polka dot dress, £795, Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth at Net-a-Porter
Now_Then founder Andreas Salinas created her eco swim label based on her love of the underwater — aware of the plastic problem in the ocean, she wanted to create sea-friendly swimwear that wouldn’t harm the depths of the blue waters she loved diving in. (Polyester, the most common fabric used in swimwear, releases micro particles of plastic when washed that end up in the ocean.) Crafted from Econyl — which derives from ocean waste and ghost fishing nets — Now_Then’s swimwear is handmade in Spain. This halter swimsuit comes in ‘deepwaters’ blue and hues of burgundy.
Kapalai + Farond eco bikini, £120, Now_Then
Focusing on the capsule pieces in the casualwear wardrobe, London-based brand Ninety Percent does exactly as its name suggests, and gives 90% of profits to charity at the end of the financial year. Each garment – which is crafted in factories that abide by ethical working practices — is fitted with a unique code on a tag, so the purchaser can go online and vote for which charity they want the profits from their individual sale to go to. Fabrics include organic cotton and tencel, which is crafted from recycled wood pulp.
Open-back tencel dress, £75, Ninety Percent
Handcrafted in Brazil, Nannacay’s basket bags and woven tote bags work with communities of women across the country who work in ethical working standards for a fair wage — Nannacay helps to keep artisanal manufacturing alive in remote areas of the country where it would otherwise die out through lack of demand. Her pom-pom trimmed baskets are perfect for vacation, but we love this woven macrame tote bag in a khaki hue that is ideal for sunny days in the city.
New York-based designer Mara Hoffman began its journey to sustainability in 2015 — today, the brand uses organic, recycled and repurposed materials. Even its buttons are crafted from the shells of tree nuts. Working with artisanal communities and ethical factories in Peru for its special pieces — which operate safe working conditions and operate a fair pay system — the brand produces the bulk of its garments in New York’s garment district and in LA to limit its carbon footprint.
Rosemary tencel dress, £555, Mara Hoffman
Now stocked at Browns and Net-a-Porter, we can now indulge in our Reformation habit without the carbon-heavy footprint of having each order shipped over from the States. A go-to for the wedding party season, the brand has perfected the floral tea dress and all manner of everyday essentials suitable for a picnic. The cult brand has been ahead of the curve since it was founded in 2009, being one of the first affordable brands with a sustainable plight and a chic aesthetic.
Emmie dress, £265, Reformation
Denim is one of the most environmentally pollutant industries within the fashion industry — Los Angeles brand Boyish is trying to counter that by creating sustainable jeans crafted from the brand’s in-house atelier near the Hollywood Hills. Using only 1/3 of the water used in regular denim production, Boyish additionally reuses all its water to further bring down the amount consumed, while the yarn and fabric are also sourced from within 30 miles of the brand’s HQ to reduce the carbon footprint of production. Everything, from the buttons to the hang tags, are crafted from recycled materials. We love this frayed hem jumpsuit as a cool take on the everyday staple.
Guy straight-leg jumpsuit, £225, Boyish Jeans
Gold is one of the luxury industry’s most controversial materials — not only the methods of extraction through unsafe mining but the sheer environmental damage caused by gold mining and the pollutant effects it has on local water resources. Brooklyn-based jeweller Laura Lombardi reduces her environmental footprint by working only with recycled metals — usually sourced while on her travels. This chunky curb chain necklace, crafted from recycled gold, is the perfect choice for dressing up an everyday white shirt.
Fede necklace, $260, Laura Lombardi
Main image: Laura Lombardi