How to Navigate Sustainable Shopping: Our Top Picks

The world of sustainable fashion can be extremely difficult to navigate as a consumer. Fast fashion brands and major corporations throw around the terms “sustainable” and “ethical,” yet most clothing companies are not transparent about their manufacturing and sourcing methods. While everyone has strong opinions about what it means to be truly sustainable, we can all make a small impact by striving to shop more environmentally-friendly brands and fewer fast fashion brands. Continue reading to discover our favorite ethical brands that are making efforts to help the planet!

Photo Credit: Reformation
Photo Credit: Reformation

Luka Top, Cynthia High Rise Straight Jeans, Kenna Dress


We love them for… Chic tops, jeans and dresses

Reformation is a trendy LA-based retailer that offers every category of clothing in dozens of styles. The website provides a deep dive into its sustainability efforts by reporting a plethora of information about its materials, manufacturing and yearly evaluations. Reformation created a tool called RefScale to determine its environmental impact by comparing its CO2 emissions, water usage and waste with most clothes purchased in the United States. To manufacture the clothing, Reformation uses recycled materials and Tencel, an eco-friendly fiber that requires less water and land than traditional fibers like cotton. Reformation has a strong code of conduct for its manufacturers, and it visits suppliers often to trace its supply chain through production.

Photo Credit: Fame & Partners
Photo Credit: Fame & Partners

Strapless black dress, metallic mini dress, pink dress

Fame & Partners

We love them for… Formal dresses

Fame & Partners is a made-to-order formal wear company. The format of made-to-order clothing allows the brand to produce nearly zero waste. Overproduction, which is an especially detrimental problem with fast fashion companies, causes negative environmental impacts. Brands with excess stock waste energy to store it in warehouses, and emit CO2 by burning the stock or sending it to a landfill.

Photo Credit: Everlane
Photo Credit: Everlane

ReCashmere Oversized Turtleneck, Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt, Men’s Felted Merino Hoodie


We love them for… Basics

Everlane commits to transparency by detailing the materials, manufacturing processes and factories used to create each individual product. Everlane even shows photos of its factories, which are all LEED-certified to ensure lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The company has committed to eliminate all virgin plastic from its supply chain by 2021, and it has created recycled materials called ReNew, ReKnit, ReWool and ReCashmere. Everlane also uses a distribution company that has become 100% landfill-free.

Photo Credit: Girlfriend Collective
Photo Credit: Girlfriend Collective

High-Rise Pocket Legging, Simone Bra, Classic Joggers, Crop Puffer

Girlfriend Collective

We love them for… Activewear

Girlfriend Collective is a size-inclusive and ethical activewear brand. The clothing is made with recycled materials and the packaging is also 100% recycled. The brand uses a Vietnamese SA8000 certified manufacturer, which is a standard by Social Accountability International that ensures Fair Trade certification, good working conditions and living wages. Girlfriend Collective offers different styles of sports bras, leggings, workout tops, loungewear and outerwear.

Photo Credit: Stella Mccartney
Photo Credit: Stella Mccartney

Black Falabella, White Mini Logo Bag, Red Falabella Pouch

Stella McCartney

We love them for… Vegan leather bags

Stella McCartney makes designer clothing and accessories. The company uses a tool developed by Kering called EP&L to measure its environmental impact each year and work to offset its carbon emissions. The brand was founded on the principle of avoiding animal products, so all the accessories are made with vegetarian materials. The trendy vegetarian leather bags are a great alternative to other designer bags made with real leather. The bags are made from polyester, polyurethane and recycled materials, and the brand continues to find ways to reduce waste and energy usage in production.

Photo Credit: Shopbop
Photo Credit: Shopbop

Veja x Rick Owens, V-10 Gold Sneakers, V-12 Pink Sneakers


We love them for… Casual sneakers

Veja is a Paris-based footwear brand that creates simple, unisex sneakers. Veja sneakers have always been manufactured in Brazil, where factories have a strong code of conduct and ensure workers a living wage and benefits. The shoes are made with eco-friendly materials, and Veja also offers a vegan line made without animal products.

Photo Credit: Born From A Wave
Photo Credit: Born From A Wave

Nikki Top, Olivia Top, Piper Top

Born From A Wave

We love them for… Swimwear

When warmer weather comes back around, keep this brand in mind. Born From a Wave was founded by SMU alum Dylan Patterson, and all the bikinis are created from 100% recycled plastic. The brand manufactures in Bali, where the suits are handmade by women making over a living wage. Additionally, customers can receive 25% off a new suit by donating old suits, and 1% of all profits are donated to Project AWARE, an organization advocating for ocean protection.

It can be intimidating to make the switch to all sustainable companies, but practices like shopping vintage can help reduce your personal carbon footprint. Additionally, the website Good on You is a great resource to evaluate your favorite brands and find new ethical brands to shop.

Mary-Wesley Maddox

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