Why should we care about sustainable fashion? In a post-Diet Prada world, we are increasingly aware of the damages that the apparel industry can bring. Low wages, terrible working conditions, astronomical amounts of waste, are just a few reasons to start.
There has often been a widespread belief that clothes created according to basic ethical standards would be either a) mostly inaccessible, b) unappealing, and/or c) carry the weight of a heftier price tag. If that was the case a decade ago, it definitely is not now.
And as consumers, we have the power to choose what we want to put on our bodies through supporting sustainable brands that don’t contribute to the damage fast fashion can bring. Here are the labels ushering in a new era of fashion.
These were probably the bags you’ve seen littered all over your instagram feeds – and it’s not hard to see why. The bags are perhaps everything you want to make you feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, what with its lighthearted and stylish designs.
And the story doesn’t just end there, too. The bags are made of straw, upcycled acrylic, and all natural bamboo – none of that environmentally damaging synthetic stuff. Since it shot to instagram fame in 2017, they have added dresses, viscose tops, wooden earrings, and now shoes to their collection.
Fresh out of Central Saint Martins in the 1990s, Stella McCartney set out to change the standard of the luxury fashion industry’s attitude towards environmental friendliness (hint: it was not much of a priority). Twenty years on, the fashion world is slowly playing catch up. She continues be an industry spearheader in producing environmentally friendly and cruelty-free products for her namesake label for the past 17 years, and is a speaking voice for ethical practises. Her collection features deconstructed, yet timeless pieces created for the modern woman.
She states, “I am mindful of the impact that fashion has on the environment and it became a conversation about this industry being the second most destructive industry (after big oil),” she says. “Once you are aware of that, as a lover of nature and of life, you can’t ignore it.”
Boldly subtle is perhaps a term you can use to describe New York based fashion label Cienne. With each collection built upon a foundation of refined shapes, considered details, and artisanal, all-natural materials, the minimal yet eclectic clothes is built to last in your wardrobe for a lifetime.
- Cienne is part of a new wave of upstarts prioritizing small-batch production; low-impact fabrics; artisanal crafts; and purposeful design. Besides a production process that empowers its workers and efforts to incorporate safe and recycled fibres, they also work with non-profit organisation, Nest, to support and invest in artisan partners and supporting family-run factories in new York.
Related article: Here’s How H&M Is Transforming Sustainability In Fashion
This New Zealand based fashion label made a strong debut in 2016 – it was shortlisted for the LVMH prize in that same year. The pieces speak of both strong tailoring and a elegant charm – silk is matched with denim, drills and popline that create modern textures, perfect for an effortless, confident look. What makes the designer, Marilyn Hewitt’s work even more special is her sustainable supply chain, workers that are paid living wage, and environmentally conscious manufacturing – the label uses organic cotton, ethically produced silks, and recycled metal that does not cause harm to the environment.
Re/Done has a star-studded fan base – think the Hadids, Jeanne Damas, and Cindy Crawford – who even designed an entire collection after instagramming herself in a pair of vintage Levi’s jeans. And why is that? Because they look and fit so damn well good.
And founders Jamie Mazur and Sea Barron found the perfect solution – by upcycling old levi’s jeans. They wanted to recreate the worn look of jeans without the use of any corrosive chemicals (in most cases, these chemicals end up dumped over a river or on our skin), and instead turned to washing, measuring, taking the vintage jeans apart, and sewing them together to a specific, fitted size.
Many designers are inspired by their travels, but Aya Tabari, founder of All Things Mochi, took things a step further by collaborating with local artisans in the countries that she visits, with her bohemian pieces crafted using traditional techniques.
The Dubai-based design house’s SS18 collection is immersed in Mexico’s indigenous culture, inspired by the intricate embroidery created by the indigenous Mayan population. This has resulted in beautiful bohemian pieces that come in vibrantly threaded embroidery and geometric patterns applied in full silhouettes.
We all know the power a great piece of fur coat can bring – it adds an instant touch of glamour and chic to any outfit. House of Fluff brings all that, minus the iffy ethical issues that come with using fur. Their swing jackets, cool bombers, faux-fur trimmed coats and accessories are made from mostly organic and sustainable faux-fur materials with bamboo, cotton, and French terry.
VIbrant, chic and classy are perhaps a few words to describe the designs by Mara Hoffman’s eponymous label. Her shift towards sustainability has been a gradual one – her label underwent a sustainably-focused shift recently since its start 18 years ago, and the 99% woman run company now has a strong focus on sustainable materials, processes, and production to improve and extend each garment’s life.
A celebration of women, in every sense of the word.
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During the recent NYFW SS’18, Tome debuted gorgeous pleating in a range of vibrant hues, in the form of an intimate dance performance that had lithe bodies flowing in its easy and effortless, strong sculptural shapes.
Designed for the everyday woman in mind, the label itself is a strong supporter of diversity and sustainability. TOME was a participant in the CFDA’s sustainable fashion initiative, and debuted its philanthropic project, the White Shirt Project, in 2014, where 30% of proceeds go to Freedom For All, a foundation that fights human trafficking and modern day slavery globally. Plus, all shirts are ethically and ecologically manufactured in eco cotton poplin by female first factories.
- With its signature high fashion silhouettes in utilitarian twists, Californian label ALYX takes heavy inspiration from youth and urban subcultures. Started by creative director Matthew Williams, who previously worked with Lady Gaga and Kanye West, the label quickly caught the attention of the fashion elite, and was named finalist for the young designer LMVH Prize in 2016.
The recent release of ALYX’s “Halcyon Blvd” men’s SS18 collection focuses on the use of upcycled textiles in collaboration with Recover Tex – recycled plastic bottles and preloved garments used to create cotton yarn in new fabrications for every piece.
As Matthew Williams stated in an interview, “I’m looking a lot into sustainable fabrics and sustainable supply chains. Not as a poster boy for sustainability or the environment, but as a conscious human being. It’s hard to ignore that there’s loads of shit being made, and people that are just being mindless consumers. I don’t want to be a brand that’s into that.”
SHOP / ALYX is also stocked at Dover Street Market Singapore
The fashion world has fallen hard for Gabriela Hearst – a fashion chief executive named her as the contemporary label which might become the Hermes of the 21st century, and she has also been awarded this year’s Pratt Visionary Award winner. How? Her secret may be her commitment to producing only timeless designs of the highest quality, and a strong ethos in sustainability.
The label works on the concept of vertical operation: that means that they own everything, from the sheep that make the wool, which gives them the capability to develop even more innovative and luxurious products.
Faustine Steinmetz believes in craftsmanship over trend. With denim as her raison d’être,her studio uses artisan techniques to rework classic wardrobe favourites. She weaves, spins and dyes all her own fabrics from her East London studio, and it takes about a hundred hours to create one pair of jeans.
- So call it contemporary couture, if you will. Once you buy a product, you can receive regular updates during the production process – each piece has a unique number which can be entered on the brand’s website to see images of the piece being made.
Related article: 10 Sustainable Brands That Emma Watson Loves
This New York based label is perhaps an embodiment of a French je ne sais quoi summer attitude. The garments come in natural colours and fluid shapes, perfect for a romp in the park or your next brunch date.
Ajaie Alaie, which literally translates from sanskrit to mean “being in your power”, is a reminder of self-love and living mindfully, and that includes the way in which the clothes are being made. Right from their sustainable fabric choices – from materials such as Tencel to AirDye, to deadstock, an a ethical manufacturing process, the New york based brand believes in complete transparency and details the entire process on their site.
It’s been 15 years since Katherine Hammet took a break from the fashion world. ( Even then, London’s fashion eco-warrior of the ‘80s remained a strong inspiration to one particular controversial artist, Kanye West,in 2015.)
Known for her politically charged slogan t-shirts, she has since reemerged with a utilitarian and graphic ready-to-wear collection which uses sustainable materials, such as 100% organic fine cotton.
High end Australian label Kitx feminine pieces that evoke easy glamour, and has a strong dedication to eco conscious design. It uses sustainably sourced materials such as upcycled PET bottle taps, organic cotton, and are in talks to developing fabrics from plastic garbage stranded in oceans.
Born out of the dance clubs of Berlin, fashion collective GmbH – German shorthand for Inc, or Ltd, is a unisex streetwear label founded by Serhat Isik, and Benjamin Alexander Huseby. The label is dedicated to showcasing diversity, from the Berlin techno scene to Middle Eastern culture. They have shown on Paris Fashion Week, been endorsed by Stefano Pilati (who also modelled for one of their lookbook), and stocked by the likes of Opening Ceremony, LN-CC, and Voo Berlin.
And everything has a low carbon footprint in mind – the materials from each collection are sourced from deadstock, a response to the overproduction of fashion.
SHOP / GmbH is also stocked at Surrender, Singapore
This is a streetwear label fit for the style-conscious, yet environmentally aware consumer. The eponymous label of British fashion designer, Christopher Raeburn, is based around ethically sourced fabrics – his latest collection had up to 30% of fabrics are made from surplus fabric.
The award winning designer is known for his reconstructed outerwear, such as parkas and bomber jackets, and an essential part of the brand DNA is the 3 R’s (Remade, Reduced, Recycled).
Rising Israeli designer Hed Mayner’s timeless and unfussy designs are made using natural fibers and refined fabrications, and are inspired by his eclectic cultural background – Mayner grew up in a small village located in the North of Israel near the Lebanese border, and later moved to Paris and enrolled at the prestigious Institut Francaise de la Mode.
His covetable collection of wardrobe staples are stocked globally, and also have a rather large fanbase in Japan.
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