In light of Earth Day approaching, I’m calling all fashionistas to reduce your carbon footprint by checking out some eco-friendly clothing brands and designers. But buyer beware: Some companies that claim to offer “organic” or “sustainable” clothing might be frauds—throwing around the term “green” just to hop on the trendy eco bandwagon.
Legitimate, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable clothing goes beyond organically-grown materials, too. International labor laws, fair and ethical working practices, and the product's impact on our planet are also things to keep in mind when purchasing anything labeled “sustainable.”
Here are a few American designers with fair practices and clothing you can count on:
Indigenous, Santa Rosa, CA
Indigenous is an all-natural fiber company who specializes in the use of marino wool, alpaca, silk, and organic cotton (so soft!). They have partnered with knitting and hand looming artisans in South America to provide a high-quality product, while guaranteeing the artisans make a fair, living wage. They also partner with non-governmental organizations that provide workers with training, education materials, and equipment that otherwise could not be afforded.
Lara Miller, Chicago
Lara Miller uses certified organic cotton, hemp, vegan ahimsa peace silk, organic wool, linen, lyocell, flax and soy fibers, hand-loomed bamboo, and recycled organic cotton for her designs. She sources mostly from US-based mills, but when sourcing from abroad, she ensures the workers have ethical work facilities that provide fair wages and manageable hours.
All sweaters are hand-loomed in Chicago, while only using electricity to stitch the garment’s pieces together. All of her other patterns are hand drawn, and she works closely with her cutter and seamstresses to guarantee each item is made precisely and with high-quality.
Loomstate, New York, NY
Loomstate uses 100 percent organic cotton for almost all of their garments. In 2012, the company started 321 for women—“3 ways 2 use 1 piece”—combining color, reversibility, and versatility using tencel, which comes for the cellulose of wood pulp harvested from organically-farmed trees in South Africa. Loomstate also stresses the importance of creating healthy and sustainable communities through their partnerships with their artisans.
Alabama Chanin, Florence, AL
The award-winning Alabama Chanin bases its business model on the Slow Design movement—good, clean, and fair. Every single garment is hand-sown by local Alabamans and is made from 100 percent organic materials—a combination of new and recycled—which the company sources from Texas and sees from field to factory.
**Samantha Fischer is an editor for Natural Solutions and Alternative Medicine magazines. Follow her on Twitter at @samanfisch.