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Clothing can take a toll on the planet. Typical cotton garments can use hundreds of gallons of water, need insecticides for the plants to grow, and ruin the soil when plants are harvested year on year. Other materials create plastic waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. And that is before we get into carbon emissions.
All of this is driven by fast fashion: the desire to create cheap clothing quickly that can be easily disposed of when the next season rolls around.
Slow fashion is all about sustainability. It may cost a little more, but these clothes are going to last, often use recycled materials, and benefit the environment. Brands are getting on board and are putting the environment before profits (while still turning one) and are treating people fairly.
What Is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion means taking the time to consider every aspect of the clothing, from the design of it all the way through to what the consumer does when they are done with the garment. It is the complete opposite of fast fashion and literally and metaphorically gets you into the mindset of slowing everything down to create long-lasting and sustainable clothing.
Clothes are not mass-produced to turn a small profit on each item and are instead created to be durable, high-quality, and transitional. Part of slow fashion is slowing down the wear of a product by using high-quality materials to create clothes that can last a lifetime or be disposed of or recycled safely when they are done with. This can mean clothing that is biodegradable.
Sustainable (slow) fashion is fashion that is created with people, animals, and the environment in mind. It means creating less waste, emissions, by-products, and redundancy. That falls both to the consumer to choose durable and sustainable products and the producer to embrace slow fashion.
There are brands out there that have fully embraced slow fashion, and this makes your choice much easier.
Next to each brand, there are dollar signs ($) which mean the following:
- $: The prices, on average, are about the same as those of traditional clothing manufacturers.
- $$: The prices, on average, are higher than those of traditional clothing manufacturers.
- $$$: Premium clothing at premium prices.
Our Favorite Slow Fashion Brands
For: Women | Pricing: $$ | Size Range: XXS-4XL | Product Range: Tops, dresses, shorts, sweaters, and more.
Sadie, the creator of Tradlands, saw a niche in the market. She was sick of buying clothes that did not fit and would fall apart after a couple of washes. Seams would stretch, the fabric would pill, and the garment was just not designed to be worn a lot. The result was a company that takes inspiration from the often more durable men’s section while still creating clothes that are for women.
- Tradlands Brianna Nico Linen Dress Review
- Tradlands Lily Midi Wrap Dress Review
- Tradlands Cottage Crewneck Sweater Review
There are French seams, side gussets, extra-thick buttons, and attention paid to the stitching. The clothes are created to fit the exact body size they are marketed for, and the fabrics and textiles are high-quality.
They want to create the most beautiful clothing, but never at the expense of the environment and people. The production processes are specialized, and this allows for more sustainability while still paying employees and workers a living wage.
2. Two Days Off
For: Women | Pricing: $$ | Size Range: XS-2XL | Product Range: Tops, dresses, shorts, sweaters, accessories, and more.
The Two Days Off company is independently woman-owned and is focused on creating easy clothing that is stylish and carbon neutral. They create clothing that has been thoughtfully designed and made, and that makes for clothes that will last. Everything is cut and sewn in small batches, and that gives close control over the quality of the garments.
The deadstock fabrics for the clothing are locally sourced in Los Angeles, with the virgin linen sourced from suppliers in North America. Deadstock fabric is fabric that has been manufactured and not used, and this cuts down on waste. It also means that the clothing is limited edition, and you may not see the same piece again once it is sold out.
There is a priority on natural fibers and no plastics. Most of the clothing can be recycled after use and will biodegrade instead of contaminating the land or oceans.
For: Women | Pricing: $ | Size Range: XS-XL | Product Range: Tops, dresses, shorts, jumpsuits, maternity, and more.
The ethos of Mien is to use the best fabrics and local artisans to create the clothing. The designs are always thoughtful and are created by a working mother, hence the focus on maternity wear alongside regular wear. The result is clean and unfussy clothing that is stylish and looks great on any body size and type.
The signature fabrics are 100% GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. They use a custom knit for the clothing, and that is done at a locally owned fabric mill in Los Angeles. The premium fabrics include natural bamboo, modal, and linen. There are no toxic dyes used.
By making the clothing in small batches, not only can they monitor production quality, but they can work with family-owned factories and pay a living wage while maintaining safe and clean working environments.
For: Women | Pricing: $$$ | Size Range: 0-12 | Product Range: Tops, dresses, bottoms, and accessories.
Valani creates clothing that is feminine, gorgeous, and comfortable while also being eco-friendly and ethically made. They have flowy styles that show off any body shape, helping you to look and feel amazing, and the quality fabrics are breathable, feeling silky against your skin.
The fabrics are plant-based and dyed with low-impact, non-toxic dyes that are all-natural. The clothes are handmade in Chicago and a GOTS-certified facility in India. They believe that a healthy planet means a healthy future for all of us, and using natural fabrics is a big part of that.
They have eliminated wasteful packaging by using straw, hemp, jute, and recycled fabrics, focusing on what is on the outside as well as what is on the inside.
For: Women | Pricing: $ | Size Range: XS-XL | Product Range: Tops, dresses, bottoms, bags, sneakers, and more.
Able are challenging the culture within the fashion industry and creating transformative opportunities for women around the world. They want to empower women as a solution for ending poverty. They invest in training, education, and the women themselves to help all women earn a living so that the cycle of poverty can be broken, and women can earn a living and thrive.
This has helped them to become a transparent company, and they have developed an evaluation system for their manufacturing partners to ensure that a fair wage is paid in all parts of the production process, and they publish their wages for all to see.
The clothing and accessories are made all around the world, and they only work with entrepreneurs who share their values. They actively seek out community leaders, and that can create powerful economic transformations.
6. Eileen Fisher
For: Women | Pricing: $$ | Size Range: XXS-3XL | Product Range: Tops, tees, tanks, sweaters, bottoms, and more.
Where many companies would see waste, Eileen Fisher sees possibility. They take old or unused clothing, 1.6 million pieces since 2009, and resell or remake them with a vision to eliminate waste from the clothes industry entirely.
They want to create timeless clothing with the future in mind. This means versatile clothing that works effortlessly together. The clothes are made from the most sustainable materials, and if something is lacking, they work with fabric mills and dye houses to create what is needed.
Used pieces that are in perfect condition are collected, washed, and resold. Even imperfect ones are reimagined instead of ending up in the landfill. The worn and torn pieces are transformed into one-of-a-kind designs. These unique designs are not only limited-edition, but they are also actively reducing waste.
For: Women | Pricing: $$ | Size Range: XXS-5XL | Product Range: Tops, dresses, bottoms, jumpsuits, and more.
Sotela is based out of Los Angeles, and they strive to create clothing that is for real women. They want to create more body positivity and believe that anyone should be able to wear whatever clothing they like, no matter their shape or size.
The pieces are forgiving and comfortable, and there is a focus on fit instead of labeling. They use eco-friendly fabrics that have minimal environmental impact, and much of their clothing is created from Tencel, modal, and linen. The pieces are versatile and durable, allowing you to wear them for multiple occasions and for a long time without them breaking down.
Sotela does not believe in compromise, and they want to treat the people and the environment well. You will find no sweatshop labor here, only partners and collaborators. They will always find the best way to manufacture the clothes with minimal impact on the environment.
8. Christy Dawn
For: Women | Pricing: $$$ | Size Range: XS-XL | Product Range: Tops, blouses, loungewear, swimwear, and more.
Christy Dawn was created to produce beautiful clothing while honoring Mother Earth and utilizing the natural fabrics and fibers that are available to us. They use deadstock (fabric that is unused and unsold) because it is better for the Earth. They are not taking anything new, just using what will be wasted.
But, that was not enough, and they have gone a step further. While they were not taking from the Earth, they still want to give back. That is why they are actively working to replenish soil to reverse climate change. They created the Farm-to-Closet initiative, a reciprocal relationship, investing money in soil that has been stripped of its goodness.
This land can then be used for growth, creating a cycle where the earth around the world slowly heals, carbon is drawn out of the air, and there is more biodiversity.
For: Women, Men | Pricing: $$ | Size Range: S-3XL | Product Range: Jeans, jackets, shorts, maternity, and more.
This is a family-owned company with a focus on mindful manufacturing. They have been in the denim business for three decades, and their eco-friendly mill is one-of-a-kind and one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world. They can create high-quality clothing that is good for the planet while keeping costs low.
Traditional jeans need a lot of water to create, often upwards of a thousand gallons. Warp+Weft can do it with less than 10. That is a lot of water saved. They do not bleach their jeans, removing a lot of the toxicity from the process, and use cutting-edge ozone technology instead.
Along with the low environmental impact, they are fully committed to ethical practices out with the manufacturing process too. They have fair wages for employees, reasonable hours, and positive working conditions.
For: Women, Men | Pricing: $ | Size Range: XS-2XL | Product Range: Tops, bottoms, jackets, knitwear, and more.
Thought is committed to, as the name may suggest, thoughtful clothing. They put thought into everything that they do, from how the materials are sourced to how they can give back to people and the planet once the clothes are sold.
They want to support local communities and businesses, and are out to create long-term partnerships that can make positive changes to individuals, communities, and the world at large. They have a dedicated blog that helps to educate, support, skill-share, and inspire others.
The processes that they use in sourcing and production are the highest in industry standards, but they are not happy with that and are constantly striving to be better, learning, adapting, and evolving where they can. The guiding principle is always to do what is right.