You may have heard the term “fast fashion” in the past few months as the clothing industry phenomenon has gained more attention from eco-friendly consumers. But the phrase on everyone’s lips tends to come without an explanation of how it started or how to avoid it.
A quick lesson for those who haven’t heard of it: Fast fashion refers to apparel companies that inexpensively, rapidly — and often unsustainably — produce trendy clothes to sell at low prices. To keep production costs low, these companies design clothes to be short-lived and use materials that increase their negative environmental impact, such as difficult-to-decompose polyester.
Poorly-produced clothes are made to be thrown away quickly, which results in a huge amount of waste. And underneath all of this, there is the oft-forgotten worker. The people making the garments are often underpaid and alleged victims of gender-based violence, specifically at H&M and Gap factories.
So if you’re busy avoiding fast fashion at Zara, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Fashion Nova and more, here are seven more eco-friendly brands to shop to your heart’s content.
This company has committed to work toward sustainability, namely through its in-store recycling program. With this, you can bring in empty beauty containers or a bag of clothes (from any brand, not just & Other Stories), and you’ll get a 10 percent off voucher. & Other Stories is also working to increase its production of clothes made from raw materials, such as cotton, by 2030.
Putting the environment at the forefront, Reformation aims to use green practices in all that it does. The company uses something it calls the “Refscale,” which calculates how much waste is saved by buying its product compared to other products available in the United States. Refscale is available on every item’s page under “Sustainability,” demonstrating Reformation’s transparency and commitment to the environment.
Speaking of transparency, for each item it sells, this company tells you how much every aspect of production costs. It clearly outlines its costs, allowing customers to make informed decisions. Offering “modern basics,” Everlane uses materials that are designed to last a long time. The company also spends a lot of time ensuring the use of good factories, as well as fostering strong relations with those who work there.
This California-based store not only focuses not only on the environment through its use of organic or recycled cotton, but also on making sure its employees are treated fairly. The brand supports the fight for a national $15 an hour minimum wage and intends to hire locally, hoping to create more jobs in the Los Angeles area.
5. Matt & Nat
Standing for Mat(t)erial and Nature, this company creates vegan accessories, such as handbags and belts. The company uses recycled plastic bottles to make the linings of its bags, amounting to about 21 bottles per bag. It also uses materials like cork and rubber to increase the durability and sustainability of every product.
6. People Tree
This company has been on the eco-friendly grind for 28 years and continues to use natural fibers, biodegradable materials and supplies to save water. On top of all that, People Tree supports its makers in their crafts and highlights them as part of what makes the clothing so great.
This shoe company makes classic, comfy sneakers. A similar style to Vans and Keds, Cariuma shoes come without the waste. The brand uses canvas (which is made from cotton), raw natural rubber and leather. It even buys carbon offsets when it ships something, which keeps their carbon footprint at zero.
While some of these brands may be more expensive than we’re used to, it’s important to remember why. These companies pay fair wages, use more expensive materials and don’t cut corners. In the end, we’re the ones who will have to pay for it either way, whether that be in dollars or in the destruction of the planet.