18 fashion labels that are easy on the planet
by : ELLE Canada- Apr 20th, 2017
Helmed by Toronto-born wunderkind Aurora James, Brother Vellies is a brand that is changing how we consume fashion from the source; it’s artisans. Known to frequent South Africa, Kenya and Namibia every few months, James prizes quality, craftsmanship and sustainability by creating links with craftspeople that understand the tradition of fashion and form. The Brother Vellies’ workspace has been flourishing since 1963 where it welcomes artists of all sexual orientations, tribes and backgrounds.
Translating to “Green Love” from French, California-based label Amour Vert boasts all-American manufacturing, sustainable fabrics and dyes and a zero-waste design philosophy. Add to that the styling of a chic Parisienne, and we’re simply smitten.
Maiyet is true high-fashion luxury – a far cry from the items we so often associate with "eco-friendly." Partnering with artisans from around the world, the brand cultivates a spirit of self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship and hope for developing economies. Training programs and social evaluations ensure the garments are made with care and that anyone involved is safe, educated and given the chance to achieve their highest potential.
We're not kidding! The brand known for its competitive fast fashion is making waves in the eco-friendly movement, too. Customers can bring old clothing into H&M stores to give them a new life and keep garments out of landfills. The brand also eschews fur, boycotts animal testing and is the number-one user of organic cotton in the world. And don’t forget about H&M Conscious Collection – a line that utilizes innovative sustainable materials.
Matt & Nat
Designed in Montreal, Canada, this vegan line creates bags to accentuate the beauty around us. Standing for Material & Nature, Matt & Nat incorporates linings composed of plastic bottles, uses no animal products and encourages each of its employees to embrace a vegan lifestyle. They also encourage upcycling, where unwanted clothes can be donated to organizations such as Dress for Success.
We all know Stella as the daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney, but it’s her serious fashion chops that have created a legacy of her own. Graduating from world-renowned design school Central Saint Martins in 1995, she was appointed in 1997 as the Creative Director of Chloé in Paris. In 2001, the lifelong vegetarian launched Stella McCartney – forgoing all use of fur and leather in her designs.
We thought nothing was better than handcrafted, Italian leather shoes. That is, until we found Noah, a brand made in limited quantities in ethical working conditions and without any animal products whatsoever. Based in Italy, the label favours microfiber in lieu of leather and suede, a water repellent and hypoallergenic alternative that respects the environment and saves the lives of animals.
New York-based Mandy Kordal cut her teeth working for brands such as Doori and J. Crew, where her passion for knitwear was realized. Kordal purchased a knitting machine and created her signature line, with American-based manufacturing as the unwavering seedbed.
In 2009, after spending ten years designing for another fashion label, Yael Aflalo had grown tired of the culture of waste and excess she was perpetuating. Determined to alter her view of the fashion industry, she set out to create her own line, Reformation, a label that quite possibly hosts the most impressive eco-friendly resumé. Everything from the factory to employee transportation and shipping standards are Grade-A green.
Most fashionistas are familiar with the brand for its go-to easiness and timeless elegance. What they might not know is that it was co-founded by Bono, a rock star who is a behind-the-scenes superhero when it comes to saving the world. The ethos of the brand is to source production and encourage trade in Africa, creating lust-worthy garments from sustainable and artisanal cloth.
Launched by Bruno Pieters in 2012 after stints at Maison Margiela, Hugo Boss and Christian LaCroix, Honest by is a culmination of Pieters’ philosophy and aesthetic ability. Brought about after his sabbatical in India, the brand is the first in the world to offer price transparency, making the entire supply chain public knowledge. This label is not only one to wear to fashion week, but one to wear with pride, as its merits extend far beyond the praise of street style photographers.
Born and raised in Montreal, Tara St James launched Study NY out of her Brooklyn abode, where she works to educate New York designers on the importance of ethical creation and local production. The label has reached widespread critical acclaim with wearable, slouchy silhouettes and a distinctive European influence.
The first organization to achieve a globally certified organic supply chain in the developing world, People Tree takes fair trade seriously, partnering with exclusive designers and ensuring you buy clothes to feel good about. We’re particularly obsessed with the trendy and wearable prints, all covering silhouettes that are flattering and fun.
Organic by John Patrick
Designer John Patrick launched Organic in 2004 to answer the polarizing question: Is sustainability still possible? Heavy in covetable basics and gorgeous staples, this brand is one you’ll definitely want to get behind, if you haven’t already.
Chinti & Parker
Founded in 2009 by two cousins, Chinti & Parker is a brand about wearability, quality and craftsmanship. Looking at the cheeky prints, timeless knits and flattering dresses, you’d never know that the duo spend equally as much time on their ethical sourcing standards as their design, buying local, fairly made products and offsetting carbon emissions used in the process.
Freedom of Animals
New York-based Freedom of Animals creates gorgeous, can’t-believe-it’s-not-leather wares made from truly eco-friendly materials. The gorgeous leather-like texture hails from Polyurethane, a PVC alternative that doesn’t emit carcinogenic dioxin, and a portion is also recycled, allowing for a lower carbon footprint. This particular bag is the 'V'irkin, a vegan Birkin-style stunner created in collaboration with PETA. #obsessed
This footwear company combines a must-have blend of European style with New York City minimalism. Based in Manhattan, the label seeks the highest standards of ethical care, sourcing materials either locally or near their family-run factory in Spain. For all the carbon dioxide emissions the brand produces, they invest in renewable energy projects to compensate.
Each pair of TOMS purchased assures another pair is given to a child in need. Now expanding to glasses, backpacks, coffee and bags, the brand has merged their one-for-one concept into providing gifts of eyesight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention, both on home soil and abroad.
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