I have to admit, I have been waiting to write this post for MONTHS! I wanted to get it just right, plus with fall just around the corner (I hope) now is a good time to start looking into our wardrobes.
So, just a quick recap. Our first two posts were about understanding our existing wardrobes and how to take care of them in Part 1 and then about shopping within the second-hand economy in Part 2. I got a lot of feedback from you guys about what you wanted to see in Part 3: shopping “new” sustainably and ethically. So here are my personal top 5 favorite sustainable brands for clothing and accessories and where I buy them! Like always, I only recommend brands that I have researched and tried myself. This is not a sponsored post and all the images are directly from the producers.
Wallis Evera– This Canadian company based out of Vancouver BC Canada which uses hemp fiber as the foundation of their clothing line. Wallis Evera fills the gap that I have for structured business wear such as dresses, skirts and jackets which I want/need to be fitted but not stretchy. In addition to sustainable hemp, they use peace silk, GOTS and certified organic cotton, and Lyocell (a biodegradable fibre made from the cellulose of eucalyptus trees.) Although their products are exclusively sold online, they offer a try-on program in which they will send you additional sizes of the clothing item ( eg. size 2, 4 & 6) and you send back the ones that don’t fit – free of charge.
prAna – prAna is my go to brand for sustainable active wear and bathing suits. This Californian-based company which started out in the garage of it’s founders is now a worldwide success. Although they have expanded their reach, they haven’t forgotten their roots in sustainable fashion. Fabrics they use are organic cottons, recycled wool, hemp, recycled polyester and responsible down. They have also partnered with bluesign® which ensures that their clothing colouring/dyes do not impact water and air quality, ensuring consumer and producer/laborer safety.
Miik– Miik is another Canadian brand which is focused on providing it’s clients with sustainable fabrics like bamboo, sorona, micro-modal and linen. Their website provides in depth information in regards to production and sourcing which is excellent corporate transparency. Like Wallis Evera, this line is a bit more on the business casual scale, but I find it provides a lot of flexibility for mixing and matching with classic and timeless silhouettes. I love the soft jersey like feel to their blazers, it makes them very wearable and breathable all year round! There are numerous stores across Canada which carry their lines, and three in the Greater Vancouver area as well!
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) MEC is a surprisingly great place to find both casual wear and athletic wear which is sustainably produced. In their product filtering section online, you can limit and narrow down your search to recycled materials, organic cotton, bluesign certified and more. MEC carries a large variety of brands which have different and varying levels of sustainability such as Patagonia, prAna, United by Blue, tentree, Toad & Co and even their own MEC brand. This extends to their outdoor gear such as rain and snow jackets and technical wear. Shop online and in person, as it is equally easy to find their sustainable clothing in store as they have fantastic labeling.
Threads 4 Thought – Threads 4 Thought is an American company which is focused on environmentally sustainable clothing, but also ethical and fair labour in the clothing industry. Much of their clothing production is focused on fair and ethical working conditions in places such as Haiti, China, Kenya and India. Although they do not ship directly to Canada, I have often found their t-shirts and shirts at Winner’s and I once loaded up on their t-shirts (4 to be exact.) because t-shirts never go out of style. The other solution I have found for several other companies which do not ship to Canada like Threads 4 Thought and PACT, is to get a mail box in Washington and have the items shipped there; however, this only works if you’re close to the US border and are prepared to pay duty if need-be.
Other Info and Tips for building a sustainable wardrobe with new items:
GOTS or Global Organic Textile Standard labels. They ensure that their organic textiles like cotton with GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibres whereas a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’
must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres. Why does it matter? Crops like cotton require more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans. Organic cotton farming can decrease their water consumption by up to 91% using integrated water management systems, and by eliminating application of waterborne pesticides and fertilizers.
Buy Fair Trade. Fair trade products promote equality and fairness in the production of the items we consume. Environmental racism is a real thing. Often the nations who produce our goods force many of their poor to live in the shadows of factories and industrial areas and therefor are both victims of dangerous living conditions, workplace conditions and are severely underpaid. Organizations who are certified fair trade are paying their employees better wages and are providing them with safer working conditions, which together can help raise them from poverty. Also, I encourage you to ask for these products in your local stores and markets. Those who are in charge are always looking to encourage sales, so help them understand what you are looking for. Win for both of you.
Shop online! It is expensive to open Brick and Mortar stores, so many sustainable and ethical clothing stores forgo the store front and opt for online, and therefore keep their costs down. There are MANY excellent clothiers online beyond what I have already mentioned.
Buy classic and timeless pieces. Buy quality, classic pieces which will last.
The moral of this series is that building a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive or immediate. You can take your time and assemble a wardrobe which both reflects your personality and values using a combination of intentional purchasing (new and second-hand) and simply by taking care of what you own. Fast-fashion isn’t going away any time soon, and although the luring siren song of cheap disposable wears are hard to resist at times, it is definitely worth pushing through.
Cheers you guys!
As always, I just want to remind my readers that these are not sponsored posts, and I do not receive compensation for these articles, I simply share my thoughts and opinions, which are strictly my own.