While preparing to write about the mutable, ever-evolving, and increasingly pressing topic of sustainable fashion during Earth Month, we had deep thoughts. Here in the Shopping department, our jobs are to find, test, and buy the best stuff so that our readers can make informed purchase decisions and find the things they want and need. But we also know that over-consumption is bad for the planet. Does that mean...no more shopping?! As lovers and avid consumers of fashion, we’re not going to stop buying clothes altogether. Actually, as the ones wielding the dollars, we should keep shopping (if possible right now); patronizing eco-conscious, socially responsible designs, and investing in high-quality pieces that will last.
One place to start this search is on the website for Econyl — a manufacturer of recycled nylon used by the likes of Mara Hoffman and Girlfriend Collective — where the process of reusing ocean and landfill waste to make new material is outlined. But many complexities still exist when defining sustainable clothing; is it about using only organic natural fibers, renewable ones like lyocell and modal, or recycled ones, like Everlane’s ReNew fabric and Econyl? Is it the Fair Trade or B-Corp certified company paying its employees fairly and re-investing in the surrounding community? Given that there's no truly perfect sustainable clothing brand out there, what matters is that the company in question is on the journey, recognizing the need to lessen its environmental impact and taking real steps towards making that happen — happily, a lot of labels are already on that path.
In addition to making products that are attractive and functional, all of the brands we're featuring ahead are sustainable or socially responsible in some way. There’s an intentional mix of makers you probably already know and should continue to support along with other notable newbies just emerging on the shopping scene. If you have the means, then go ahead and dive in — or, if you choose to celebrate Earth Day by not shopping, bookmark this story for another day.
This piece has been updated from its original version.
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