Going Green: 5 Eco-Friendly Brands Changing How We See Sustainable Fashion

Going Green: 5 Eco-Friendly Brands Changing How We See Sustainable Fashion

These five brands are leading a growing list of sustainable pioneers paving a path toward a greener future for the fashion world.

These five brands are leading a growing list of sustainable pioneers paving a path toward a greener future for the fashion world.

Text: William Defebaugh

The fashion industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (more than transportation, which is at 13%), most of which comes from unsustainable factories, including those built around the culling of animals for leather and fur. Despite these harrowing statistics, there still exists a stigma surrounding the word "sustainable" when it comes to fashion. People tend to think that if a line is using eco-friendly materials and production methods, surely there must be a cost, whether aesthetically or practically. Thankfully, there exists a class of brands determined to prove that not only is sustainable fashion possible, but it doesn't require a sacrifice in high quality or forward-thinking design.

Stella McCartney

An early pioneer of sustainable fashion, Stella McCartney's namesake label is the foremost vegetarian luxury label in the world. "I believe in creating pieces that aren’t going to get burnt, that aren’t going to landfills, that aren’t going to damage the environment," says the designer on her website. "For every piece in every collection I am always asking what have we done to make this garment more sustainable and what else can we do." McCartney's brand is owned by Kering (the luxury corporation that owns Gucci and Saint Laurent), meaning it must meet rigorously high revenue standards, for which many companies rely on leather and fur. The fact that McCartney is able to play in the big leagues without relying on these harmful products is proof that anyone can—and is a testament to the designer's unyielding dedication to the cause.

Reformation

Started in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation's approach to sustainability is rooted in the recycling of vintage materials, refashioning old fabrics into new garments with environmentally responsible manufacturing methods (the majority of their merchandise comes out of their L.A. factory). The result is a collection of pieces that feel both old world and new, with modern updates to classic materials and styles. While it's difficult for any brand to be 100% sustainable, Reformation openly offsets the unavoidable byproducts of their manufacturing—water used, carbon emissions—by planting forests, investing in clean water solutions, and acquiring landfill gas offsets. The best part? It's actually affordable.

Edun

Edun was founded by Bono and Ali Hewson in 2005 "to show that you can make a for-profit business where everybody in the chain is treated well." The brand wanted to promote trade and produce a fair-trade company in Africa where they sourced production and resources. In 2008, the brand created the Conservation Cotton Initiative Uganda, which gave funding, training, and more to help farmers in Northern Uganda create sustainable businesses. The New York-based brand has since become synonymous with ethical and ecological fashion that doesn't sacrifice anything when it comes to style or wearability.

Maiyet

Maiyet is one of those brands that you would never know was sustainable just by looking at the garments—a feat that many would say is the ultimate goal of eco fashion. An ethical luxury brand that places its focus on handcrafted designs from varying cultures, Maiyet works with artisans all over the world to create unique pieces that are sourced globally but manufactured locally. While based in New York, Maiyet partners with artisans in India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru, Bolivia, and Thailand—a feat it's able to achieve with the help of non-profit organization NEST. Maiyet also partnered with the Gobi Revival Fund and goat herders in Outer Mongolia to create the world's first ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable cashmere yarn. The result is some of the softest sweaters on the environmentally-minded market.

Amour Vert

After discovering that fashion is the second biggest polluter after the oil industry, Christoph Frehsee and Linda Balti—engineers by trade—founded Amour Vert, which "means GREEN LOVE in French but it also means American jobs,non-toxic dyes, sensuous fabrics and innovative techniques and above all enduring style." Their forward-thinking designs are made with Tencel and Modal (carbon neutral fabrics), recycled polyester, organic cotton, non-toxic dies, and silk that's sourced from family-owned silk farms in India. An added bonus? For every t-shirt purchased from Amour Vert, the brand will plant a tree in North America. They've already planted more than 100,000 in association with their partner, American Forests.

Credits: Hero image: Stella McCartney Fall 2016 ad campaign.

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