When you think of carbon emissions, you probably picture airplanes or a barren forest, and you probably
don’t think of t-shirts or jeans. But as it turns out, the fashion industry is responsible for between 8 and 10% of all carbon emissions, and is the second largest consumer of water, according to findings from the UN (the largest is agriculture). Supporting sustainable clothing brands that are made with eco-friendly materials designed to last has never been more important.
It’s not just the manufacturing of clothing that causes environmental stress, but also what happens after consumers are done wearing them (shockingly, each piece of
clothing is worn just seven times, on average, before being thrown away, according to The Wall Street Journal).
sustainable clothing brands for women on this list do not compromise. They’re made ethically from recycled and eco-friendly materials like Tencel and silk. These brands limit or avoid plastic all together (unless their product is made from recycled plastic). And of course, all the pieces are well-made, beautiful, and oh so cozy so you’ll be psyched to wear them again and again.
According to the World Economic Forum, “the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or
dumped into a landfill every second.” Yes, every second. So in addition to buying sustainably (or second-hand) whenever possible and keeping clothes for as long as you can (which often means avoiding trends in favor of things that fit well) it’s also important to support brands, like Rewoven or Marimole, which are thinking of innovative ways to recycle textiles. Because instead of being in a landfill, old clothes and discarded fabric can have a second life as a jersey or a dog bed.
Read on for some of our favorite sustainable clothing brands for women.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. Two Days Off
Los Angeles-based brand
Two Days Off makes their clothing in-house in small batches or made-to-order. The beautiful clothes are crafted from natural fibers like linen or sustainable EcoVero™ jersey fabric which is made of wood pulp from sustainably-certified forests. Many of the textiles used by Two Days Off are what’s known as “deadstock,” meaning fabric that was already manufactured but never used (and the new fabrics are all from natural materials that are easier on the environment).
The brand is also carbon-neutral, meaning all carbon emitted by company is offset through work with decarbonization initiatives. These elevated basics are well-crafted and designed to last, even as they’re worn regularly. Oh, and every package ships plastic-free.
Stripe & Stare Stripe & Stare is best known for their insanely soft underwear, (knickers, as they say on their website) which actually biodegrades over time (well 95% of the fabric does and the brand is working on a fully biodegradable fabric). These undies and basics won’t live forever in a landfill after you’re done with it, because, amazingly you can put them in with your compost.
All of their products (including the super cute joggers above) are made from TENCEL™ Modal, which is made using wood pulp from sustainable tree farms. Through a partnership with
Ecologi, Stripe & Stare will plant a mangrove tree in Madagascar with every order. Back Beat Co. Back Beat Co. has a cool, effortless, and comfy vibe that manages to look laid back yet still put together. The brand uses what’s known as “low-impact” fabrics, meaning they’re either recycled or sustainably farmed. Currently the roster of fabrics includes hemp, Tencel, recycled cotton, and linen. All products ship plastic-free in mailers that are either made of recycled paper or are compostable, including larger orders going to store accounts.
Everything from the pattern making to the manufacturing, sewing, and dying of the fabric is all done locally in Los Angeles, within 10 miles of the studio. The silhouettes of these comfy clothes are vintage-inspired with cool modern updates, and you’ll get a ton of wear out of the versatile looks.
Edit+ Edit+ designs, produces, and ships all clothes in-house from their factory; this process both reduces carbon emissions and makes for faster fulfillment: win win. The comfy pieces include outerwear (like the above multicolor fleece) lounge-y tops and soft pants, plus accessories like face masks and hoods; everything is neutral enough to stand the test of time while still having interest and detail.
The pieces are designed to be worn cross-seasonally, thereby limiting the amount of new clothes a consumer needs to buy. All the materials are sustainable; some are made of recycled polyester and others are crafted from organic cotton and wool. Edit+ also donates 10% of profits earned to NGOs.
You’ve probably at least heard of Everlane and you may even own a few of their timeless clothes (their jeans are the best). The brand has a commitment to eliminating all virgin plastic from the supply chain by 2021 (a goal which is 90% met at present). Pioneers of transparency, they are also forthcoming about their partnerships with fair-wage factories that are “clean” meaning they use recycled water or renewable energy to power the facilities.
The brand is also transitioning all denim to be made from a yarn known as Roica® V550 which is made without harmful chemicals. Per the brand’s website, “97% of our apparel materials containing polyester and nylon are now made from certified recycled fibers,” and 45% of plastic footwear are from recyclable materials.
Proclaim Proclaim was founded by Shobha Philips who decided to start her own line of lingerie after struggling to find underwear that matched her skin. The brand is inclusive, while also being ethically made and environmentally friendly.
The products (which include bras and undies in various styles including the comfy high-waisted fit shown above) are all made from either eco-friendly Tencel or REPREVE® recycled polyester which is made in the USA and comes from plastic water bottles.
The company is headquartered in Los Angeles where it also manufactures its products, and as their website says, all items are “cut and sewn at a facility that meets the strict labor standards of the City of Los Angeles and State of California.”
Pact Pact’s products, which include men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothes, plus bedding, are made using organic cotton. As the Pact website says, “we choose to use organic cotton because it sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people by using natural farming processes. That means no toxic chemicals and 91% less water than non-organic cotton.”
In addition, the brand partners with Fair Trade Certified™ factories that have safe and fair working conditions which help protect the workers and the environment.
Pact is known for their extremely soft pieces; from base layers to cozy sweaters and outerwear. Customers can choose to offset the carbon emissions created by shipping; this calculation is made using the shipment’s distance and the carbon footprint created, and the cost goes to buying wind energy credits or other decarbonization efforts.
Taylor Jay Taylor Jay uses the word “elevated comfort” to describe their pieces, and that’s exactly it. Everything the brand makes, even the floor-length dresses, looks like it would be cozy and as soft as it is chic.
“We chose to make slow fashion because women empowerment can’t happen without integrity and social responsibility. We partner with an ethically sourced, fair labor practicing factory in Oakland, CA to produce environmentally safe garments from certified eco-friendly textiles,” per the Taylor Jay website.
Some examples of this sustainability include using recycled threads and eco-friendly tints. Based in Oakland, California, the company works with an ethically sourced, fair labor factory, also in Oakland.
If you’re looking for buttery leggings that are compressive while still being completely comfortable, look no further than Seattle-based,
Girlfriend Collective. I own several pairs of leggings from the brand, so I can attest to the fact that you’d never know these came from trash. Well, more specifically, from post-consumer water bottles.
The brand takes plastic from water bottles and turns it into yarn, which both diverts the bottles from landfills and keeps petroleum out of the manufacturing process.
Girlfriend Collective carries tons of athleisure from leggings, to shorts, and bras, in both basic dark colors and fun seasonal hues.
Whimsy + Row
Los Angeles based
Whimsy + Row has sustainability built into everything they do. If you find yourself loving something on their website, be sure to add yourself to the waitlist; the brand does this so they know exactly how much of a certain item it make, which cuts down on waste. When it’s ready, the company picks up each piece from the local factory, which entirely eliminates the need for plastic.
In addition to
deadstock and upcycled fabrics, Whimsy + Row uses environmentally-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, linen, and silk. Every scrap of material is recycled (sometimes to make smaller items like scrunchies or bandanas) and if it’s too small to use, the brand donates it to Marimole in NYC, where it’s turned into new fibers.
If you like colors and prints that are still super sustainable (there’s even a section of
sustainable dresses for wedding guests), this brand is for you.