Fair Trade, Sustainable & Ethical Fashion / Clothing – TOP 10 Brands of 2019

Clemens
4. April 2019

Introduction

Fair Fashion has gained popularity over the last couple of years. For a reason because we are facing more environmental problems than ever and most fashion brands contribute to a lot of that. Not only environmental wise but also when it comes to ethical aspects such as animal harm. But more and more companies are doing their best to help solve this issues and not be the because. Even bigger companies started shifting their core values towards helping save the planet.

Fair Trade, Sustainable & Ethical Fashion / Clothing Brands  – TOP 10

Here is a list of game changing fashion brands that are currently doing their best to contribute to a better and more sustainable world. They are focusing on reducing their environmental impact as well as established great social values and improving conditions for workers in factories. Most of them, if not all, are vegan and exclusively working with materials that are not made from animals.

On top of that they are not only sustainable, ethical and eco friendly but also fashionable and stylish which should not be the trade when choosing such brands.

Freitag 

Probably not very well known in the rest of the world but in europe they are absolutely trending right now. Freitag is brand from switzerland that uses old truck tarpaulin, seat belts, bicycle tubes and recycles them to stylish fashion accessoires mostly bags. This brand has been established in switzerland around 25 years ago by the freitag brothers and is now more popular than ever.

They offer a wide variety of bags and the coolest thing is that every single bag is 100% unqiue. That is due to the fact that all the truck tarpaulins and materials are different from each other and for each bags different parts are used. 

On top of that they are also offering a repair service making it super sustainable since less bags are thrown aways.

Freitag Taschen

Currently they are recycling +460 tons of truck tarpaulins, 130.000 seat belts and 12.000 bicycle tubes each year. That results in 450.000 products each year that are sold all over the world in 24 freitag stores, 400 distributors and their online store. Currently they already have over 200 employees.

2014 they also started offering clothing made from renewable and ethically sourced materials such as hemp, linen and modal. They are continuously trying to improve their eco balance as well as launching new products such as small interior. Both brothers are really passionate about their which you can really tell by the quality and though that stands behind each product. We are looking forward to seeing more this brand.

Website: https://www.freitag.ch

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/freitaglab

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/freitaglab

MATT & NAT

Another classic one – Matt & Nat.  This label was founded 1995 in Montreal inspired by MAT(t)erial & NATure. An exclusive brand never disappointing to deliver high quality, premium fashion for more than 20 years. According to their website their core value are:

social responsibility – excellence – inclusiveness – integrity – learning – authenticity – love

No wonder why their products is so well designed, ethically made and top notch quality. Their style is very minimalistic, modern and clean. Perfect for anyone who loves timeless stylish fashion.

Currently they are offering a very wide variety of bags, wallets, shoes & some small accessoires like sunglasses.

matt and nat shop

Besides their quality and style MATT & NATT hold very strong ethical values and they are doing their best to produce as sustainable as possible. With that being said all products are vegan and from all kinds of leather alternatives. Most often they use PVC and PU made from recycled plastic bottles as a leather substitute. Every single leather bag is made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Some collections also feature interesting leather alternatives such as cork, nylon and rubber. 

Every single product is designed in Montreal Canada and made under strict regulations making sure all employees get paid a fair wage and work under proper conditions. Fun fact at their “cruelty free” headquarter in montreal they celebrate at the last friday of each month birthdays with vegan cupcakes.

Website: https://mattandnat.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/matt_and_nat_/

Knowledge Cotton Apparel

From Switzerland over Canada to Denmark. Knowledge Cotton Apparel is the name of the danish fashion brand. The history of this fair fashion company goes back to 1969 when it is founded in Herning by Jørgen Mørup and his father. From the beginning this family business focused on sustainability. Starting a fair fashion label almost 50 years really means you believe in what you do. Back in the 60s no one really talked about sustainability that much and it was rather optional than a serious concern.

Their name comes from their believe that knowledge is power and the more you (become aware) the better choices you make.

A couple of years later they startet exclusively using organic materials including cotton for their fashion. Ever since they have been continuously improving their “sustainabilty score” and are constantly trying to improve their ecological footprint. Their main focus is being eco friendly, sustainable and high quality. Knowledge Cotton Apparel basically tries to provide highest quality possible with the least impact possible on the earth.

For the future they set the goal to recycle over 4.5 million plastic bottles into polyester by 2020. Until 2025 they want their supply chain to be 100% carbon neutral throughout the whole supply and distribution chain by manufacturing as locally as possible and choosing renewable energy sources.

Knowledge Cotton Apparel Shop

Currently they are offering pretty much anything you can wear. Starting from socks, over pants to hats and beanies. They also startet offering solar powered backpacks and other accessoires. All their items are either unisex or exclusively designed for men which means their is no women’s collection. Maybe that is due to the fact that men are running this business. So if you a are women you either choose something unisex, go for the boyfriend look or might go for a different brand.

Website: https://knowledgecottonapparel.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knowledgecottonapparel/

Armed Angels

Armed Angels is a rather brand that has been established back in 2007 in cologne Germany.  Although is a rather young fair fashion brand its very well known internationally and many celebrities including Leonardi Di Caprio and Natalie Portman. They are also a partner firm of Knowledge Cotton Apparel. In 2009 just after 2 years of being in business they one the first Wirtschaftswoche Entrepreneur Competition.

With regards to their core values they are doing their best to offer high quality, vegan an eco friendly clothing. According to their website their work is based on three main pillars:

  • being good to the environment
  • supporting fair trade
  • donating to charity

With that being said they are exclusively choosing organic cotton, paying fair wages to their farmers in india and are donating 1€ for every product being sold.

They offer a wide variety of clothing for men and women such das t-shirts, hoodies, longsleeves, pants and jackets. Their style is fairly minimalistic and clean making to timeless and easy to combine with other fashion items. For souch a young company they have been growing rapidly.

Armed Angels Online Shop

Mandala Yoga Wear

Mandala Yoga Wear is a munich based fair and sustainable active wear label for women. It was founded by Nathalie Prieger back in 2001. Growing up in Iran and beginning sewing clothes at the age of 14 Prieger got in touch with the fashion industry at a very early age. She quickly discovered her fashion and later on graduated at the Paris Fashion School. Then she continued working in the industrie for big brands like MCM before she decided to take the plunge and start her own brand.

 Mandal Yoga Wear mainly focus on yoga clothing like tops and leggings. Their great variety of design makes them stand out as well as their conscious choice when it comes to materials. Their most used fabrics are:

  • Organic Cotton
  • Bio Based Polyamide
  • Tencel
  • Recycled Polyester
  • Modal

Their philosophie is based on functionality high quality and ethical standards as well as fancy designs. One of the few active wear brands that understand the importance of sustainability as well as looks and comfort. Mandala Yoga Wear has been growing steadily over the past years and constantly releasing new products and design. Definitely a brand one should keep up with.

mandala-fashion.com

Mandala Yoga Wear

Thought Clothing

1995 in the same year as MATT & NAT a young fashion label called thought clothing was born. David and Jon, the founders, wanted to wear something natural and cool in the australian summer heat. They first started out with simple shirts and beach wear for men made from sustainable ramie and hemp. Couple of years later they opened their first store in London and afterwards launched their website. Over the years they have continuously added new products to their collections. Now in 2019 they offer a great selection of all kinds of vegan clothes for men and women.

They style rangers from basic white tees to fashionable dresses and shirts. They offer a special vegan collection as well . https://www.wearethought.com/organic-vegan-clothing-online/

Thought Clothing

JAN ‘N JUNE

Another german label that entered the fair fashion market a couple of years ago. In 2013 Anna and Julia meet with a a bottle of wine and came up with the idea to launch a new fashion brand with the goal of making fashionable but also sustainable and affordable clothing. Not quite easy to combine these aspects but they did it. 6 years later they are offering a several collection for men and women.Their style is very minimalistic, clean and modern featuring tops, bottoms and some accessoires.

All of their clothes are made my hand in Warsaw, Poland under the E.U law making sure working conditions are proper and workers get paid fair wages. On top of that they mainly used organic and or recycled materials such as organic cotton, tencel, recycled polyester, tenowa (100% recylced yarns). So all of them are vegan and have low impact on the environment.

Overall it is very modern brand not only when it comes to design but also their core values and materials they use. Definitely a top recommendation for us.

Jan ‘n June

Khala

A little more exotic is Khala, a fair fashion label from Munich, Germany using garments and styles from Malawi in Africa. They combine traditional African colors and patterns with modern clothing items like jackets, shorts and bandanas. Their style is definitely very unique and makes you stand out for sure. Founded in 2017 in Munich is still a very young label. Currently they source their materials from Malawi and also work there together with local communities. The distribution is managed from Munich, Germany.

Another company that cares about the environment as well as humans and creates ecological as well socio economical value.

https://www.khaladesign.com

Khala

Reformation

Reformation is a fair fashion company based in Los Angeles, California. The headquarter as well as the manufacturing facility are both located in L.A. Founded i 2009 by Yeal Aflalo Reformation has grown quite rapidly and is now offering a large collection of women’s fashion from casual tops to upscale dresses. 

Prices are definitely ambitious but the quality as well as the design speak for themselves. It is not just regular clothing it is rather fashion for those who really look for outstanding looks and styles.

When it comes to sustainability, fair trade conditions and eco friendlyness they are very transparent. The whole manufacturing process as well as the materials that are used can be seen at their website. They are all about transparency and awareness when it comes to their fashion and how to produce it. Even the employees get interviewed on camera and share their experience giving further insights into the company.

https://www.thereformation.com

Reformation

TOMS

TOMS, short for tomorrow’s shoes, is an american fair fashion company founded in 2007 in California. They offer a great collection fo shoes as well as apparel, coffee, handbags and eye wear. Blake Mycoskie the founder of the company visited Argentina back in 2002 in the competition of the amazing race. Four years later in 2006 he returned and was shocked again by the amount of shoeless children and young people. He started volunteering in an organization that offered shoes for these children together with another women and instantly got inspired.

The idea was born to develop a sneaker like shoe for the north american market and for each pair of shoe that is sold another par was donated to these children. He got this idea from Bill Gates who told him that many diseases are spread due to the fact that many people are walking around bare foot. Also many children just don’t attend school because of the fact that they don’t have proper clothes including shoes. In order to finance this project he sold his original company, an online driving education program, for around $500.000.

Toms

To this day they have given over 94 million people shoes and are continuously trying to help more people as they expanding their company. They are focusing on most basic needs for humans like the one just mentioned. By the end of 2020 they want to pass +100 million shoes given away for those who need them.

The second main focus is eye sight. Over 285 million people are blind but 80% don’t have to be and can be fixed with a proper surgery. With TOMS Eye Wear they are also giving away eye sight and establishing local facilities that can help people regain their eye sight. To this day TOMS has helped over +700.000 people to actually see again and over 40 facilities have been build.

Water is third aspect TOMS is really trying to improve for people in rural areas all over the world. This program is directly related to the coffee they sell and with that money they are financing the creation of safe water systems. Currently over 720.000 weeks of water supply have been saved. This has a huge impact on local communities and their overall economic and educational development.

Last but not least they are focusing on social issues especially gun violence, homelessness and gender inequality.

Currently they are offering mainly shoes for men & women but also apparel, eyewear, handbags and coffee. Their style is very influenced by south america and most shoes are for summer like the sandals or espadrilles. But you have to watch out they also got some boots which are made from leather and wool which is not vegan.

 

 

 

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What is fair trade, ethical, sustainable & eco friendly fashion?

These terms are used more than ever when talking about new brands that are trying to make an impact. All of them are important and to some extant related. But one has to be really careful when using them because a lot of companies are actually not what they present themselves to be. They use this terms for their marketing agenda and get the attention of new customers and selling the idea of helping the planet.

They are aware of the fact that most people are making more conscious shopping decisions than ever and this is an ongoing development rather than a short trend. So when looking at these labels you really have to understand what they truly mean in order not be fooled by big companies marketing.

Fair Trade

The Fair Trade Organizations makes sure that all participants during the manufacturing and delivering process of a product get paid fair wages and work under fair conditions. It also ensure that certain ecological standards are meet and nobody gets harmed during the whole process. Neither nature nor humans. Although it is not the most strict label that instantly tells you a product is 100% ethical, sustainable, fair and eco friendly. It is a good baseline and helps customers certainly makes better choices.

Regulations are continuously improved to strengthen the label and improve the overall ethicalness and sustainability.

fair trade

Ethical

Ethical is very widely used and basically the main term that includes thing like sustainability, veganism, eco friendliness and other aspects. Being ethical is hard to define and depends on each personal views and expectations on life. Most often fashion or clothing is labelled as ethical when it does not harm any humans, animals or the environment during the manufacturing process.

Sustainable 

Sustainability basically stands for maintaining a system or process over an infinite amount of time without depleting available resources or using not renewable resources. Sustainable systems fulfill increasing human needs for a long period of time (theoretically infinite) without harming or depleting any limited resources.

Eco Friendly

Eco Friendly is basically included in being sustainable and ethical. The term itself stands for reducing the impact on the environment and using as little resources as possible for its manufacturing process. This includes using renewable energies and materials for the manufacturing process and reducing the environment impact by avoiding long shipping distances.

The Ultimate Solution: 2nd Hand

This might sound very unsexy but the ultimate solution for solving a lot issues especially when it comes to the environment is just buying or using more second hand fashion. Sometimes we all fall into the trap of constantly buying new things because the fashion industry tells us to do so. In reality we don’t need as much clothes as we think we do and a lot of things in our wardrobe don’t get used at all.

Since most of us still get the urge of switching up the style from time to time it is probably a good idea to first ask friends or family members for clothes they don’t wear. They are also a lot of thrift shops that offer some really fancy clothing and accessoires.

Obviously there is a limitation to this especially when it comes to certain dresses like suits, wedding dress or other apparel that often needs custom fitting but for most items it is a good idea to look out for second hand options as they are the most ethical, sustainable and eco friendly solution of all.

 

thrift shop 2nd hand macklemore
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