Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Disclaimer: Please note that this post has been sponsored in paid partnership with prAna, tentree, icebreaker, Encircled, Sene, The Very Good Bra, Modibodi, Dresden Vision, and Alice + Whittles. Photography has been provided by each company. Some links contain cookies, learn more about cookies here. Discount codes below!
Our Clothes Tell a Story
Every piece of clothing tells a story. From the natural resources that were extracted, the hands and machinery that wove the fabrics, and the people who constructed the garment, to the miles travelled. Our entire wardrobe, including shoes, accessories, and clothing, all had a life before they landed in our closets. They’ve probably travelled far and wide, and in this day and age, most items in our wardrobes have probably travelled the world. When you think about it more closely, what story do you want your clothes to tell?
Most of us by now have heard of the devastating environmental and human costs associated with the fashion industry: highly toxic chemicals polluting our natural environments; energy and resource intensive production; child labour; and unfair and unsafe labour conditions for all ages, among others. Do we want our clothes to tell that story?
On April 24th, 2013 the world was shocked and saddened when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh. Inspired by this tragedy, Fashion Revolution Week is the campaign where brands and producers are encouraged to demonstrate transparency in their supply chain with the hashtag:
With all of this in mind, we can change the story. We can choose fashion that is ethical, sustainable, and high quality from brands that are transparent about their process.
Why ethical? Because our clothing should respect all people.
Why sustainable? Because our clothing should respect the planet and all its inhabitants.
Why high quality? Because textiles should be long-lasting, and not end up in the landfill. #zerowaste
Why transparent? Because we all deserve to know #whomademyclothes.
Navigating the ethical and sustainable fashion world can be overwhelming. To make it easier, The Zero Waste Collective has come out with this first annual Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Guide! The following brands demonstrate all the values that support sustainable and ethical fashion. Let’s vote with our choices and set the new industry standard.
prAna started in a garage in Carlsbad, California back in 1993 by Beaver and Pam Theodosakis. Having a hard time getting decent yoga and climbing gear, they started their own products by sewing the first pieces themselves and shipping them out in fruit boxes from local grocery stores. From the start, and still today, prAna is committed to sustainability and social responsibility in every component of their business.
Committed to respecting the planet and its people, prAna is fully transparent about their process from the farm to the factory to our closets. The materials prAna uses include organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp, recycled polyester, and responsible down. Many of their products are bluesign® approved, meaning that prAna’s products ensure that chemicals, people, environment and factories are managed and protected through the creation of their products. prAna is also partners with Fair Trade Certified™, ensuring that they directly support farmers and factory workers, and they are a member of the Fair Labour Association. Being waste-conscious, prAna diverted 3.6MM+ plastic bags and 44 lbs of plastic from the landfill. Having prAna in your closet will help fuel your adventures at home, at work or travelling the world, knowing that your clothes are supporting positive change.
tentree was founded with the goal to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet. They don’t want to just reduce the negative impact of the apparel industry, tentree wants to use it as a vehicle for positive and sustainable change. tentree’s purpose is to revitalize our environment and inspire a generation to believe that they can do the same. It is their goal to plant 1 billion trees by 2030, and so far, they’ve planted almost 30 million trees! Want to help tentree reach this goal? This Earth Week tentree is planting one tree for every 10 Instagram likes, with the goal to plant 500,000 trees (they’ll need 5 million likes!) on Indonesia’s Biak Island. Head to Instagram and DOUBLE TAP TO PLANT before April 27th!
tentree plants a lot of trees, but they’re also B Corporation certified, use eco-friendly materials in their clothing, and choose ethical manufacturing. Every tentree garment is made using a blend of sustainable fabrics including: hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester, TENCEL™ lyocell, cork trims, and coconut buttons. They’ve made it a priority to partner with ethical factories and to source the most eco-friendly materials for a better planet. They are so transparent about the manufacturing process that they list their manufacturing partners and where they are located! You’ll be proud to have tentree in your sustainable and ethical wardrobe for sure!
Discount code: ZWCOLLECTIVE15 for 15% off your order!
Based in New Zealand, Jeremy Moon founded icebreaker 24 years ago to create natural solutions to technical apparel. Having met a merino sheep farmer, he set out to bring the brilliance and power of nature from merino wool into our closets and active lifestyles. From farm to factory to finished garment, every step of icebreaker’s process is fully transparent, and has been from the start. icebreaker is proud of the meaningful relationships they’ve built with their partners and growers, thriving on respect, honesty and transparency.
icebreaker is committed to using natural alternatives to synthetic materials (i.e. plastics) in their clothing, knowing that nature has the solutions to creating better performance and building a more sustainable future for people and our planet. To demonstrate their supply chain process, icebreaker has detailed Transparency Report available for anyone to read. icebreaker believes that people should know exactly what they are putting next to their skin and how their clothes are made, including full traceability. Looking for a life with less plastic? icebreaker is the perfect sustainable and ethical apparel option to bring nature right into your wardrobe.
Encircled was founded by Kristi Soomer, a former management consultant who was traveling around the world for work. Determined to make it easier for women to travel lighter, she designed clothing that blended style with function when she couldn’t find what she needed in her own closet. Even more importantly, Kristi had years of working in the retail industry that informed her vision to make Encircled ethical, sustainable and sweatshop-free, and they are B-Corp certified!
Encircled’s name came from the idea that fashion can be full circle by maximizing benefit to people and communities, while minimizing impact on the environment. Their clothes are 100% made in Toronto, Canada with eco-fabrics. This enables Encircled to be agile and produce clothing in season and by demand. The entire process of production and supply chain management is fully transparent. Encircled designs with intention to reduce waste, with excess fabric cuttings being saved and upcycled into accessories like leg warmers, headbands and hair elastics. If you’re looking to dress with less, Encircled has the versatility necessary to maximize your outfit possibilities so you can do more with less in your closet with each piece they make. Being an outfit repeater never looked so good!
Sene was founded by Ray Li and Mark Zheng for the dreamers and the hustlers daring to break boundaries. Spoken from experience, they didn’t have a fashion background but they had a strong desire to make high-end, ethical fashion accessible for all body types. Not only that, Ray immigrated to the US when he was three, and Mark is the son of immigrant parents. With Sene, Ray and Mark celebrate the stories, sub-cultures and body shapes that are overlooked by mainstream fashion.
Sene embodies the slow fashion movement with bespoke, made-to-order fashion for both women and men. The Sene collection is designed in Los Angeles and expertly constructed with high-quality Japanese and Italian materials to fit each person’s preferences. How does it work? Order online using Sene’s recommended methods to find the perfect size, then place your order. Then your garment is hand-assembled specifically for you, arriving at your door within 1-3 weeks. Sene stands by their products and will alter or remake your order if it’s not a perfect fit. With Sene’s made-to-order service, they are breaking out of the status quo by providing quality garments that fit all shapes and sizes perfectly. Instead of buying into fast fashion destined for your trash bin, add Sene to your wardrobe instead, and you’ll have high-quality pieces that you’ll always love wearing.
Discount Code: "zerowaste" for 10% off your first order!
The Very Good Bra
The Very Good Bra was founded by Stephanie Devine in Australia to create the world’s first zero post-production waste bra. Having experience working with wire-free bras in natural fibres and armed with knowledge of how wasteful the apparel industry is, Stephanie spent years sourcing and developing products with their end of life in mind. The result? 100% compostable bra and briefs. There is no polyester thread, nylon labels, synthetic elastic or spandex/elastane. You could bury these in the backyard when you’re done! This is just the start for The Very Good Bra, with more colours to come late-2019, as well as thoughts on a men’s line.
The inspiration to make 100% compostable came from Stephanie’s knowledge of how much textile waste goes to landfill. Australian’s send 85% of textiles to landfill, two-thirds of which are synthetic fabrics. Even before textiles make it into the trash bin, washing synthetic clothing releases plastic microfibres into our waterways and oceans. In support of sustainability and slow fashion, The Very Good Bra uses compostable textiles and packaging, while minimizing production waste through pre-selling and making only to order. Reduce the waste (and plastic) associated with your wardrobe by choosing The Very Good Bra the next time you need a new bra (it comes in 26 sizes)!
Discount Code: “ZWC10” for 10% off from April 23rd-28th!
Modibodi was founded by Kristy Chong in 2013 to create a beautiful and functional line of underwear to help women feel safe, sassy and sustainable all day and all month long. Kristy and her team spent 2 years to design, fine-tune, and develop a full range of effective women’s underwear and swimwear for all absorbency needs: periods, pregnancy, bladder leaks, and everything in between. It was Kristy’s personal experience after the birth of her second child that bladder leaks inspired her to make life-changing and earth-friendly underwear.
Modibodi is breaking taboos, opening up minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option that benefits the planet and leaves behind less waste. By choosing Modibodi with their Australian patented Modifier Technology™ underpants and swimwear, you can prevent thousands of panty-liners, pads and tampons from ending up in landfills and waterways. This is huge, given that the average woman will use about 15K disposable menstrual products in her lifetime, and with incontinence may use an addition 1K+ liner/pads per year. The maternity-wear can also reduce an average of 1K nursing pads (based on 8 pads per day for 3 months) ending up in a landfill for each child you breastfeed. Modibodi garments are made from 85% natural fabric including merino wool and bamboo, plus they carry a fully-vegan range. On top of being super sustainable, Modibodi works closely with trusted and audited manufacturers that comply with Oeko-Tex fair work standards and wages and gives back to the community. Modibodi underwear, activewear, maternitywear and swimwear are sustainable and ethical additions to women’s wardrobes for all women at any stage in life!
Discount Code: “ZeroWaste15” for 15% off storewide, ends April 30, 2019 and cannot be used with any other offer or discount! Excludes packs and gift cards.
Dresden Vision is on a mission to bring high-quality, sustainably-made prescription glasses to anyone in the world, no matter where they live and how much money they have. Dresden Vision was founded by Bruce Jeffreys and Jason McDermott in Sydney, Australia, to create a better experience for people who wear glasses. Knowing that glasses can be annoying (they are easy to lose, break, or scratch) informed their approach to designing their frames. Plus, glasses are expensive. So, they set out to make high-quality, affordable glasses that are functional, versatile, fun and sturdy, with a life time warranty included just in case.
These glasses are sustainably and ethically made in western Sydney, Australia, where the facility has been set up in such a way using solar power and collected rainwater, to create as low waste a process as possible. They choose high-quality new and recycled materials (nylon) to produce durable and recyclable glasses. This has been a very thoughtful process to “unclog our ecosystem of discarded plastic” and give those materials a new life. Some of their recycled plastics include keg and carton lids, fishing nets and even recycled Australian currency. Their system is closed-loop, in which any production waste gets fed back into the moulding process. Dresden Vision is passionate about closing that loop and creating an eco-friendly society in which we reuse materials, creating a circular economy. Are you ready to see more clearly? Dresden Vision’s stylish glasses are durable, sustainable, and when necessary, recyclable.
Alice + Whittles
Footwear: women’s rain boots and sneakers
Alice + Whittles was founded by wife and husband team, Sofi and Nick, who met while working with the UN Refugee Agency in Switzerland. Their experience with the UN opened their eyes to the impacts of the global fashion industry on workers and the natural environment. In order to have create innovative solutions in a broken system, they left their posts in 2014 and learned from grassroots organizations to develop a contemporary line of conscious footwear. Alice + Whittles has a beautiful line of footwear that is design forward, environmentally friendly and socially responsible, with style that can take you from the office to travelling the world.
Alice + Whittles is built on long-term partnerships with producers around the world working with materials that benefit the planet and reduce their footprint. Using natural and recycled materials, they create functional footwear that is both stylish and guilt-free. With direct pricing, Alice + Whittles works directly with producer communities that value human dignity and ethical manufacturing. With a trimmer supply-chain and transparent process, Alice + Whittles creates ethical yet still affordable footwear. Alice + Whittles makes it easier than ever to transition to an ethical and sustainable wardrobe.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for sustainable, ethical and slow fashion. There are many amazing brands out there that once you start looking, you'll find the perfect fit (pun intended) for your needs. Together, we can change the story of our closets.
Looking for more knowledge on the fashion industry? Check out:
Need a few more tips on building your sustainable and ethical wardrobe? Read this post.
This concludes the first annual Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Guide! Thank you to the lovely brands who participated in this feature. A lot of work went on behind the scenes to make this happen! And thank you to all the readers who are keen to make a difference in this world - you're awesome!