Explore 27 sustainable clothing and footwear brands who are lowering carbon emissions, sourcing eco-friendly fibers, and considering their impact on people and planet.
The Short Answer: 8 Best Sustainable Clothing Brands for Women and Men
Among the dozens of sustainable fashion brands reviewed in this post, I recommend you start with these:
Everlane, which prides itself on “radical transparency” in its supply chain, offers a stylish lineup of business casual and everyday wear for women and men. Everlane has become one of my go-to direct-to-consumer brands for everyday business casual essentials like chinos and sweaters.
Pact Apparel is an excellent destination for affordable sustainable clothing basics including tees, sweatpants and joggers, socks, and leggings (though I wish their selection was larger).
tentree is another great option for sustainable clothing essentials, particularly loungewear. (Think French Terry hooded dresses for women and comfy TreeFleece sweatpants for men.)
Best sustainable fashion brand for dress shoes: Nisolo
Sustainable fashion brand Nisolo makes dressy, upscale shoes for women and men. Look to Nisolo for a range of gorgeous Chelsea boots, oxfords, sneakers, slip on sandals, heeled mules and more. I love my Nisolo black oxfords.
Best one-stop shop to discover sustainable fashion brands: Nordstrom
Nordstrom is one of my favorite destinations for discovering a variety of stylish fashion brands at once. The Seattle-based retailer’s website is an excellent place to discover a range of sustainable fashion brands on this list including Cotopaxi, Outerknown, Tact and Stone, Tentree and Toad&Co. Also look to Nordstrom for a spectrum of other brands that utilize organic cotton and wool in their clothing like Asos Design, Alex Mill, Boden, Coyuchi, Duer, Faherty Brand, Frank and Oak, Free People, Maggie’s Organics, Marine Layer, Patagonia, Prana, Rhone, The North Face, Vuori, and Nordstrom’s house brand Zella.
In Search of Sustainable Clothing
The world is waking up to the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
A whopping 86% of consumers say environmental change is real and requires a change in how we behave.
Sixty-six percent of consumers say that sustainability inﬂuences their clothing purchases, and 61% of consumers have stopped buying from a company whose values didn’t align with theirs. (Check out 75 Fascinating Fashion and Clothing Stats for more statistics on sustainable clothing.)
In 2021, 66% of consumers indicate that sustainability inﬂuences their clothing purchases, a jump from 61% in 2017.
What is the definition of Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion refers to efforts by companies to produce clothing and apparel in ways that address environmental, labor, social and/or community priorities.
There is no widely accepted definition for “sustainable fashion.”
Various textile and clothing companies and nonprofits utilize the banner of sustainable fashion to reflect a spectrum of efforts to advance social, labor, and environmental best practices and innovations.
Clothing and textiles sold under the banner of sustainable fashion may incorporate efforts to:
- reduce carbon emissions, achieve net-zero emissions or be “Climate Positive,”
- address packaging waste,
- source sustainably-produced, organic, recycled or deadstock fibers and materials,
- provide for end-of-life recycling or disposal of their products, or
- adhere to fair trade or other worker-centric business practices.
If you really want to understand what a particular company means when it says it produces sustainable fashion or clothing, you have to get under the hood of its practices. (You can also look to various nonprofit standard-setting, audit and certification bodies like B Corporations, Fair Trade Certification and Climate Neutral Certification.)
Sustainable Clothing Brands
What are good examples of sustainable fashion brands? Sustainable fashion brands on this list like Everlane, Cotopaxi, Outerknown, and Pact are engaged in various efforts to reduce the environmental impact of clothing and support sustainable supply chains and fair labor practices.
Clothing startup Everlane pledges to build a more ethical, sustainable and “radically” transparent supply chain for its lineup of smart casual and everyday wardrobe basics for women and men. (Everlane is also a fantastic option for business casual clothing for men.)
Among other initiatives, this sustainable fashion brand has committed to eliminate the use of virgin plastics by 2021, to use only certified organic cotton by 2023, and to use recycled synthetic materials. The company also lists out its factories and pricing structure to improve visibility into its partners and practices.
Everlane has become one of my family’s go-to destinations for basics like t-shirts, chinos, athleisure leggings and cashmere sweaters and is excellent example of the kind of stylish clothing company helping men and women dress sharp in the digital age.
Founded in 2015 by Kelly Slater and John Moore, sustainable fashion brand Outerknown is committed to sourcing its West Coast-casual clothing made with fair labor and environmentally-sustainable practices.
Ninety percent of the fibers Outerknown sources are organic, recycled, or regenerated, and they promise lifetime repairs for their S.E.A. jeans to keep them out of landfills.
I love my Blanket Shirt from Outerknown, which is available for women and men.
Cotopaxi is an online sustainable fashion startup that sells sustainably-produced outdoor adventure apparel and “gear for good.”
Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Davis Smith, this Salt Lake City, Utah-based outdoor sustainable fashion startup is an interesting alternative to Patagonia for activewear and athleisure.
Its mission is to create innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty relief and inspire people to do good. Through its foundation, Cotopaxi funds nonprofit organizations that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty with a focus on improving health, education and livelihoods.
Pact (“Earth’s Favorite Clothing”)
As I wrote in my guide to where to buy the best socks online:
The brand, founded by entrepreneurs Jason Kibbey and Jeff Denby in 2009, specializes in sustainably and ethically-produced organic cotton basics. (Brendan Synnott, who currently serves as Pact’s CEO, acquired Pact via his Revelry Brands company in 2011.)A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Places to Buy Colorful Socks Online
All of Pact’s cut-and-sew factories are Fair Trade Certified. Pact relies heavily on organic cotton in its lineup, which saves water and rejects the use of toxic chemicals, works to minimize package waste, and offers customers the option to offset the carbon footprint of shipments.
Get 20% off your first order from Pact with code MODERNFELLOWS.
United by Blue
As United by Blue explains:
We’re here to prove that fashion can be a force for good. Through our commitment to sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing, and a zero-plastic policy, we’re always searching for better ways to put the planet first.United by Blue website
United by Blue utilizes GOTS-certified factories and a range of sustainably and ethically-sourced fabrics like Bison hair (a resource that would otherwise be discarded) to make their sustainable activewear and outdoor apparel for women, men and home. (You can even join a waterway cleanup.)
Try United by Blue for a range of sustainably-produced tops, pants, socks, outerwear, dresses, shoes, loungewear and swimwear.
Boden, the “unashamedly British” purveyor of bright-colored fashion for women, men and kids, maintains a number of sustainability targets.
Those sustainability targets include using 100% sustainable viscose; 100% of cotton from a combination of Better Cotton Initiative, organic, recycled and Fairtrade sources; and 100% regenerated or recycled nylon by 2025. Boden also promises its swimwear will use only yarn regenerated from waste.
They also ensure their packaging, shipping bags and catalogs are made from recycled materials. Boden also provides a window into the factories and workers around the world that produce its clothing, and established a responsible sourcing initiative.
Toad and Co.
Toad and Co. prides itself on making socially and environmentally responsible clothing for women and men that can transition from the trail to the tavern.
Toad makes its clothing from environmentally friendly materials including organic cotton, hemp, and recycled yarns and is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and packaging waste.
Try Toad and Co’s hemp short sleeve t-shirts for men and dresses for women made from a tencel, organic cotton and elastane blend.
Founded by brothers Derrick and Kalen Emsley and friend David Luba in 2010, tentree emphasizes that it sources its production according to fair labor practices using sustainably-resourced fabrics including organic cotton, hemp and Tencel:
We’re committed to minimizing our environmental impact, uplifting the well-being of our people with ethical labour rights, and safe workplaces, and recognizing our social responsibility to keep our business practices as transparent as possible.Our Ethical Manufacturing, tentree
Through these practices, tentree produces high-quality sustainable loungewear, athleisure leggings and joggers, t-shirts, sweaters, dresses, and jackets and more.
The Vancouver, Canada-based company pledges to plant 10 trees every time the company sells an item.
Discover tentree’s best sellers for women including cozy sweatpants, InMotion High Rise leggings, and french terry hoodies and joggers. For men, explore tentree’s best sellers like joggers, zip hoodies and heavyweight flannel shirts.
TIDAL New York makes comfortable, long-lasting and sustainable fashion flip flops for men and women.
Their flip flops are made in New York at their factory in New Rochelle, NY using ecofriendly materials like Variable Biomass Oil and Mimaki’s GREENGUARD Gold Certified inks via a unique process that results in little waste.
Their flip flops are made by American workers with a focus on fair hours and wages and a supportive workplace, including for military veterans.
Read my interview with Rumpl CEO Wylie Robinson to learn more about how the company bands together with likeminded brands for positive change.
NAADAM sells responsibly-sourced, luxury cashmere knitwear for women and men with an eye towards safeguarding the nomadic lifestyle of herders in Mongolia.
The company promotes ethical conditions for animals “from hand combing to veterinary care,” pays herders directly, and contributes to anti-desertification programs.
NADAAM has also set sustainable fashion goals for the year 2025 for “people, product planet and progress,” including to go carbon neutral, reducing packaging waste, using traceable, renewable and recycled materials, and ensuring a living wage across its supply chain.
Look to NADAAM for cashmere sweatpants, sweaters and socks.
To start, try NADAAM’s $75 Essential Cashmere Sweater for women and men.
Discover the Solios Solar Black with Brown Vegan Leather
Day Owl makes backpacks from recycled plastic bottles.
A Certified B-Corporation, Bombas Socks is on a mission to deliver socks to homeless shelters.
Bombas makes cozy and comfortable socks for women, men and kids (including Sesame Street-themed socks), and has given more than 25 million pairs of socks to homeless shelters.
Australia-based Boody Ecowear is probably one of the most affordable sustainable fashion options around, particularly when it comes to eco-friendly leggings and athleisure gear for women. (They also have a small collection for men and babies.)
Most of Boody’s clothing is made from naturally-grown, organic bamboo, which the company touts for its ecofriendly and “skin-healthy” properties.
Founded by friends David Greenblo and Neil Midalia in 2011, Boody is now run by CEO Shaun Greenblo, David’s son.
Boody’s website lists a range of “eco-ethics” certifications the company pursues, including from Ecocert, WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), Oeko-Tex, PETA Vegan Approved, SGS tests, and compliance with ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 standards.
The company offers many more sustainable fashion options for women, including under-$40 sports bras, hooded activewear tops and extremely affordable leggings, than it does for men or babies. (Menswear includes boxer-briefs and short and long sleeve shirts.) Boody ships free to the United States
Explore Boody’s under-$30 3/4 length leggings for women and Boody’s men’s collection of bamboo socks, underwear and t-shirts.
Sheep Inc., a digital native, sustainable fashion knitwear brand founded in 2019 by Edzard van der Wyck and Michael Wessley, advertises itself as “the world’s first carbon-negative fashion brand, and gorgeous too.”
Look to Sheep for a small selection of gender-neutral knitwear including cardigans, crew necks and v-necks.
Peak Design sells thoughtfully-designed everyday carry bags (think backpacks, travel bags and totes) made by fairly-paid workers.
Sunski sells ethically-made sunglasses made from scrap plastics for women and men.
Seattle-based Girlfriend Collective makes eco-friendly, size-inclusive activewear and athleisure for women.
In Modern Fellows’ guide to athleisure alternatives to lululemon, I observed that:
[Girlfriend Collective] puts a huge focus on sustainability, making their leggings, joggers, t-shirts and tanks from recycled polyester (aka RPET), nylon, post-consumer bottles, fishing nets (yes, recycled fishing nets) and other waste. They produce t-shirts and tanks from 100% cupro fabric, which is constructed from wastes the cotton industry leaves behind.For Similar Brands Like Lululemon, Try These 29 Athleisure Alternatives for Women and Men
The brand sells a variety of athleisure basics including track pants and jackets, sweatshirts, sweatpants and sweatsuits, workout bras, leggings, skorts, unitards, and maternity activewear. Girlfriend Collective models its clothing on women who represent a variety of shapes, sizes and backgrounds.
Try Girlfriend Collective’s compressive high-rise leggings for women.
Everybody and Everyone
Founded by Veronica Chou in 2019, Everybody and Everyone sells versatile, inclusive and eco-friendly clothing for women that can transition from work to play.
Take 10% off of orders $50 or more at Everybody and Everyone with Code 10OFF50EE
Reformation prides itself on a comprehensive approach to sustainability.
From green building leadership to using recycled paper hangers to recycling 75% of all of their garbage to using offsets to replace water and energy resources that they use, Reformation is committed to implementing a range of sustainable practices.
Ably Apparel sells a range of activewear and athleisure apparel for women and men.
The company incorporates a proprietary fabric technology called Filium into their clothing, which causes natural fabrics like cotton to “repel liquids, stains, and odors” without the use of nanoparticles or toxic chemicals. Filium is produced according to Bluesign sustainability manufacturing standards. With less washing, Ably estimates that the average household could save 120 gallons of water monthly.
Sustainable footwear brands for men and women
A number of companies have stepped up to offer sustainably-produced shoes and sneakers for men and women. Footwear brands like Allbirds and Nisolo are producing shoes that take into account carbon emissions and the impact of production on people and planet.
For even more options and details, see Modern Fellows’ separate post comparing sustainable knit sneaker and shoe brands like Allbirds, Vessi and Rothy’s.
A certified B-Corporation, this sustainable fashion brand has committed to reduce its emissions, source low-carbon materials, rely on ocean shipping rather than air, purchase in renewable energy and committing to energy efficiency in its operations.
Allbirds is one of several sustainable fashion options for minimalist knit sneakers for men and women.
Nisolo makes fantastic, “intentionally designed, ethically made [and] fairly priced” handmade shoes for men and women.
The Nashville, Tennessee-based company promotes 100% living wages across its sustainable fashion supply chain and has taken a zero percent net carbon commitment. The company includes a Sustainability Facts label with each pair of shoes.
Most importantly, they make great looking shoes for men and women, including sandals, slip-ons and flats, sneakers, oxfords, classic Chelsea Boots, Chukkas, loafers, and more.
Not only is Nisolo a Certified B Corporation, it scores higher than 93% of other fashion brands who have become Certified B Corps.
Nislolo also maintains an “ethical marketplace” that provides consumers the ability to shop like-minded sustainable fashion brands including Sunski sunglasses, Hestra gloves, Kyrgies slippers, Hedley and Bennett aprons, Our Place cookwear, and bags by Caraa, United by Blue and Baggufrom one platform.
Vancouver, Canada-based Direct-to-Consumer e-commerce startup Vessi makes a range of “creature-free” vegan shoes for women and men.
The company began with their iconic Cityscape sneaker, and has since expanded to offer styles including Chelsea Boots and Sunday Slippers, a cozy, knit slip on that can be worn inside or outdoors.
I am particularly fond of Vessi’s ultralight Everyday Move sneakers, which are made from a breathable knit mesh and feature a sock-like fit.
Most important, Vessi’s entire lineup of shoes is waterproof, which means I don’t have to worry about the weather when I slip them on to go outside.
In my review of Vessi’s shoes, I conclude that:
Vessi’s Everyday Move sneaker has been one of my go-to options for walking the dog and knocking around the neighborhood because they are waterproof, comfortable, slip on easily and pack a sleek silhouette.
While I wouldn’t rely on them for business casual or necessarily pair them with workleisure clothing, they are a marvelous choice for your everyday activities.Review: Vessi’s Waterproof Shoes Could Be an Essential Casual Shoe for the New Normal
Founded in 2009 by Sam Barstow and Jake Anderson, Forsake sells waterproof, breathable and sustainably-produced footwear for hiking and everyday for women and men including sneaker-boots, shoes, boots and slip on sneakers.
Standards and certifications for sustainable retail
One way to gauge a company’s sustainability practices is to see if they adhere to various certifications, standards and metrics.
There are a number of private sector and nonprofit efforts to evaluate companies against sustainability, climate and labor metrics.
Here are several to watch for:
Certified B Corporations
Companies can opt to apply for a private certification from B Labs, which evaluates and scores companies based on a set of social and environmental criteria.
According to B Labs:
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.Certified B Corporation
Companies receive a numerical score from B Labs. A minimum verified score of 80 is required across all sustainability areas identified by B Labs to be certified. Supposedly, a higher the overall score is meant to convey adherence to B Labs’ performance and certification requirements.
List: Select sustainable fashion brands by Certified B Corporation ranking
Here is a list of select sustainable fashion brands who are Certified B Corporations, ranked by the Overall B Impact Score issued by B Labs.
|Certified B Corporation||Impact Score *|
|Patagonia (outdoor apparel and gear)||151.4|
|Tidal (flip flops)||140.6|
|tentree international (clothing for women and men)||124.6|
|Nisolo (shoes for women and men)||115.4|
|Happy Earth Apparel||109.1|
|Raven and Lily (bags, jewelry and home)||104.9|
|Frank and Eileen (women’s apparel)||97.5|
|Dai (women’s apparel)||97.4|
|Kotn (basics for women and men)||95.5|
|Cotopaxi (outdoor apparel and gear)||93.6|
|Encircled (women’s apparel)||91.0|
|Parker Clay (leather bags)||89.4|
|Bombas (socks and more)||89.2|
|Grey Rock Clothing Company||88.0|
|The Good Tee (t-shirts)||88.0|
|Accompany (jewelry and home)||87.8|
|Someone Somewhere (apparel, bags and accessories)||87.1|
|Known Supply (apparel and accessories for women and men)||86.9|
|Amor and Rosas (women’s clothing)||86.5|
|Karen Kane (women’s apparel and home)||85.3|
|Norden Project (outerwear and accessories for women and men)||84.9|
|Athleta (activewear and athleisure for women)||84.3|
|Urbane and Gallant (men’s suits and more)||83.8|
|Jetty (surf wear and apparel)||82.9|
|Synergy Organic Clothing||82.4|
|Frank and Oak (clothing for women and men)||81.7|
|Mondetta, MPG Sport and Modern Ambition||80.9|
|Finisterre (clothing for women and men)||80.8|
|Sozy (women’s clothing)||80.8|
|Another Tomorrow (women’s clothing)||80.3|
|United by Blue (clothing for men and women)||80.1|
bluesign works to identify over 900 potentially harmful chemicals. The organization issues certification to those “systems partners,” manufacturers and retailers, who can prove that their supply chain does not contain those chemicals in their production processes.
Select sustainable fashion brands listed as “systems partners” on bluesign’s website include:
- Canada Goose,
- Columbia Sportswear,
- Eileen Fisher,
- Faherty Brands,
- L.L Bean,
- Lands End,
- Outdoor Research,
- The North Face, and
Climate Neutral Certified
- Ministry of Supply (elevated workleisure),
- AEXAE (swim and resort wear),
- Allbirds (unique sneakers),
- Bruna (fine jewelry),
- Boyish Jeans (women’s denim),
- Cape Clasp (ocean jewelry),
- Hereafter (formerly Everbrand) (athleisure),
- Forsake (weatherproof sneakerboots and hiking shoes),
- Huxbaby (organic baby and kids clothing),
- Jade Swim (minimalist swimwear brand),
- Keeper Denim (where style meets sustainability),
- Kyrgies (handmade felted slippers),
- Luxya Yoga (eco-friendly yoga mats),
- Mantra (go-to shirts for men),
- Made Trade (sustainable clothing, home goods and gifts),
- Mana Threads (biodegradable activewear for women),
- MATE the Label (ethically made in Los Angeles clothing for women),
- Nature Supply Co. (responsibly-produced, ethically-sourced t-shirts),
- Nicholas Kirkwood (environmentally-conscious footwear for women),
- Nisolo (ethical and sustainably-produced footwear for men and women),
- Reformation (sustainable clothing for women),
- Seadon (technical hiking clothing)
- Seek More Wilderness (outdoor gear),
- Sensi Graves Swim (American-made swimwear for women),
- Soleil Soleil (consciously-designed, sustainable fashion sun essentials for women),
- Sozy (soft and cozy clothing for women),
- Sporty and Rich (activewear for women),
- tentree (sustainable fashion made from hemp, cork and organic cotton for women and men)
- The Cano Shoe (ethically handcrafted leather huaraches for women and men),
- Toru and Naoko (high-end, sustainably-made intimate apparel),
- Twine Fair Trade Company,
- Two Days Off (women-owned lifestyle brand),
- Vincero Collective (elevated watches for women and men),
- Vuori Clothing (performance apparel for men and women),
- Western Rise (elevated men’s performance clothing for work and play),
- Will’s Vegan Store (sustainable, ethical, vegan clothing and shoes for men and women), and
- Wolven (ethical and sustainable fashion for women and men)
Mission Brand Alliance
The Mission Brand Alliance is a loose coalition of companies “dedicated to a greater good.”
While there do not appear to be strict entry criteria or evaluations, the Mission Brand Alliance indicates there are are a number of characteristics that unite members, including environmental action, fair labor practices, inclusive sizing, life cycle loop, plastic upcycling, responsible manufacturing, sustainable product materials and sustainable shipping practices.
They also reference 1% for the planet, Certified B Corps, Climate Netural Certified and The Conservation Alliance as relevant standards that its partners may follow.
Sustainable fashion brands who are members of the Mission Brand Alliance include:
- Rumpl (blankets for everywhere),
- Jetty (coastal lifestyle brand),
- Toad&Co (clothing from trail to tavern),
- United by Blue (1 pound removed from waterways for each product purchased),
- Sunski (sustainable sunglasses from recycled plastic),
- Peak Design (carbon neutral bags, backpacks and camera gear),
- Worn Wear (refurbished Patagonia gear),
- Miir (premium drinkware),
- Forsake (footwear with net-zero emissions),
- Faherty (sustainable West Coast casual clothing)
- Janji (socially responsible running brand),
- Parks Project (throwback tees, activewear, home goods and more)
- Day Owl (backpacks from plastic bottles),
- tentree (a tree planting and apparel company)
- Fair Harbor (swimwear from recycled plastic bottles),
- Wondery (a women’s outdoor clothing brand)
- Saola (shoes from recycled materials),
- Altar’d State (modern women’s fashion brand that gives back)
- Brave Soles (Handmade sandals constructed from recycled tires)
Which sustainable fashion brands are missing from this list?
This is an admittedly subjective and non-exhaustive list of sustainable fashion brands. I would welcome input for sustainable fashion companies to add or views on the efforts of the brands listed above. (Please leave your views in the comments section at the end of this article.)
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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