Sustainability has become such a buzz word, so much so, that I'm not sure any of us know what the words means anymore. When applied to fashion it has become synonymous with anything to paying a fair wage, setting fair prices, to using natural or recycled fibers in designs. I think sustainability has to be more than just doing one of these things correctly. Even brands like H&M are touting their own version of sustainable fashion. Is it sustainable? Yep, it is better than the other garments they make, but calling them sustainable might be a stretch.
I think we have to put more significance on the people involved who are sewing the garments. I also think garments are not sustainable if they are not pieces that will stick around in are wardrobe for at least a year.
Here are 5 pieces that are not only made sustainable (the fibers in them are natural or recycled), but they are also made in factories that are treating their employees better (paying a fair wage or above). To use the again over used word...these 5 pieces could be my capsule wardrobe if I had to have one...
Tonle is arguable one of the most sustainable brands. They not only produce in a fair trade facility, but they are a zero waste manufacturer. Meaning they not only use dead-stock fabrics to start with, but they use ALL their scraps in manufacturing other pieces. (They even make paper with the extra, extra threads and scraps!) This vest is made from weaving some of those pieces and is really lovely.
Tribe Alive has an emphasis on the actual people who make their garments. This incredibly easy to style black dress is made with organic linen in India.
Liz Alig, if we do say so ourselves, does have an ingrained mission of using the clothing we make to empower the people who make it. We are also committed to tracking our supply chain from fiber to sewing. We don't always do it perfectly, but we are trying. This hand knit alpaca sweater I could wear everyday - I know this because I do - it is made with alpaca yarn sourced from smaller farmers in the Andes and hand knit by a small women's cooperative in Bolivia.
Find a cashmere sweater at Goodwill, Threadup, or Poshmark. Buying second hand clothing is the most sustainable way, plus you will thank me later!
Choose your favorite pair of Matter Prints pants. These are either handwoven or hand block printed and sewn buy artisan groups. They work with small production facilities all over India, plus these pants have been around for a while and people love them!