Sustainability isn’t a buzzword, an aspiration or an abstract concept for brands leading the pack. It’s a way of life and a focal point of their ever-changing business. Today, as we march inexorably to global Armageddon, these ethical brands’ commitment to cruelty-free fashion is fast becoming the industry norm.
Many work with producers making innovative and exciting fashion fibres like building fake fur from sustainable corn fibre, producing vegan microsilk and growing mycelium-based “leather” to sneakers that are made with biodegradable Loop technology. These brands are more in touch with what the next generation of consumers actually wants: a measure of mindfulness to the environment.
Conceived by founder Christina Dean, The R Collective is a social impact upcycled fashion brand with a mission to create streetwear style using waste materials. The brand was born from Redress, the pioneering Hong Kong-based charity working since 2007 to reduce waste in fashion.
Using rescued textile waste sourced from world-leading luxury fashion brands, reputable mills and manufacturers, they reuse these materials by reimagining the destiny of the fabric with timeless and versatile designs. With their innovative techniques and sustainable designer collaborations, this capsule collection focuses on everyday dresses, pants and jackets that can be styled by layering.
Using the naturally renewable fibre of upcycled wool, the Bermondsey Pants by The R Collective were designed in collaboration with Redress Design Award alumni Wen Pan. The Bermondsey belted cropped houndstooth wool wide-leg pants offer a fresh take on tailoring and houndstooth ensures these pants are an instant classic.
The R Collective’s ‘Welland’ skirt, is upcycled from rescued luxury taffeta and cut in an elegant, draped silhouette with a subtle slit at the side. Match it with a t-shirt or a chunky knit and you’re good to go!
Sparked by the excitement of travel and the human connection that comes with it, the founders of Matter Singapore, Renyung and Yvonne, met on the beaches of Mexico. They were inspired to combine their love for travel, cultural stories and unique travel wear into a business catering to the global nomad. Ethical textiles are at the core of their beliefs; they are passionate about sharing traditional textile techniques as well as the stories of people who made them. Sustainability, naturally, was a pillar to that.
Certified 100% organic cotton and made with azo-free dyes, the Sideswept dhoti, rural hand loomed pants is Matter’s step forward. Organic cotton provides a better working environment for farmers and workers because it’s grown without pesticides and fertilisers. To sustain the harvest and keep the plants alive, farmers grow a diversity of crops, which in return creates a greater source of income for them.
Another favourite among mums (as it’s breastfeeding-friendly) is their Multi-way wrap top. Hand loomed in jacquard, the motif moves from sketch to loom through the addition of a hand-punched paper card. It is a rare and laborious craft that calls for great technicality and detail.
New Zealand brand Maggie Marilyn is only four years old but has already found an international cult following, its fans including Meghan Markle, Karlie Kloss and Kendall Jenner. The brand’s innovation extends beyond its aesthetic to its operations: for Maggie Hewitt, the millennial behind the brand, sustainable and ethical philosophy has been a non-negotiable since day one.
Hewitt grew up in the Bay of Islands, a rural and coastal region of New Zealand, where her passion for protecting the natural world first started. Transparency is key when it comes to sustainability, and that embodies the Maggie Marilyn mantra.
The designer is extremely open about where she gets her materials and who is involved in the production. They ship their seasonal wholesale collections in fully biodegradable bags, and they are working towards being completely carbon neutral as a business.
There’s so much to like about Maggie Marilyn’s ‘Follow Your Heart’ blazer, from the empowering name to the punchy guava hue. The blazer’s organic cotton twill was hand-loomed in India by Oshadi whose aim is to reinvigorate and support artisan communities whose trades are threatened by large scale manufacturing. Team yours with white sneakers to match the pinstripes, then unfasten the rouleau loops to create a flared silhouette.
Effortless, feminine and the ultimate less-is-more piece, this mini-dress with the puff sleeves and bow tie front comes across as youthful and fun. This glittery fabric is repurposed from a deadstock end of line fabric.
Considered yet creative, Kit Willow believes in clothes that don’t harm the environment. She also believes that sustainability shouldn’t compromise the desirability of a garment or fashion brand. Marrying these beliefs, Willow launched KitX in 2015, fast becoming a leading force within the Australian ethical fashion movement. With full access to her supply chain and an ethical and eco-friendly design ethos, Willow works solely with non-hazardous materials that are sourced from traceable and fair-trade suppliers who adhere to global environmental and social standards.
This Rewilding Nature Shirt Dress is digitally printed on silk with removable sleeves, big pockets and dome buttons made from corozo palm nuts. It’s kind on earth in its creation as it composts into earth if ever disposed – but this is a piece that’ll be in your closet for a long time.
This Linear dress features structured tailoring with a wide v-neckline, fitted bodice and signature drape skirt. It has been crafted from a blend of linen and sustainable wool by Botto Giuseppe.
Romantic and yet sophisticated, this collection of bold colours with loose statement sleeves is founded on fluid silhouettes and artfully engineered; its consciously sourced materials are produced using recyclable, Earth-friendly solvents.
Confronted by the pollution that some garment factories were producing, LA-based Yael Aflalo, founder of Reformation, felt the need to create killer clothes without killing the environment. The whole equation follows the lifecycle of clothes—everything from growing textile fibres and making fabric, dyeing, moving materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, garment care and even recycling clothes when you’re done with them.
The brand doesn’t use polyester, nylon, virgin polyester, virgin nylon or conventional cotton, due to their excessive carbon footprint. The brand also ensures that a large portion of its suppliers pay a living wage, which we’re all about in 2020!
This navy-blue Evelyn floral print dress from Reformation is almost as fresh as the flowers it depicts. Featuring a one-side strap, this georgette evening gown is body hugging with a knee-high side slit made of viscose – aka rayon – which is manmade cellulosic fibre, made from wood pulp. The brand is committed to ensuring all their forest-based products come from sustainably managed forests.
The High and Skinny jean has a super easy and comfy fit due to the super stretch denim. The organic cotton they’re made from doesn’t allow genetically modified seeds and restricts the use of many chemicals. It still uses water and land, but it helps sustain the land it is grown on through crop rotations and natural ways of controlling pesticides.