23 Sustainable Fashion Pieces That Are Totally Worth the Investment
If you've kept your ears to the streets, then you're likely no stranger to the fashion industry's ongoing conversation about the importance of sustainability. What started as a buzzword has become increasingly important to consumers as climate change worsens, and brands are realizing the need to adapt, pronto.
The topic begs the question of just how detrimental clothing manufacturing is to the well-being of our ecosystem. According to the World Economic Forum, fashion is responsible for 10 percent of all carbon emissions and is the second leading culprit in consumption of the world's water supply. Which is to say, fashion's effect on the environment is pretty darn detrimental.
In fact, only 42.6 percent of brands say they have "a sustainable range," according to Drapers. This indicates that even though 91.6 percent of brands recognize that consumers are becoming more environmentally aware with their purchases, the industry as a whole still has a long way to go. Still, brands that have already embarked on the journey of environmental responsibility are doing so without compromising chic and trendy results, and contrary to popular belief, sustainable shopping doesn't always mean breaking the bank.
The way brands approach sustainability individually tends to differ — some use 100 percent natural products, while others use a mix of natural and synthetic fibers. Some offset their environmental footprint with investments and donations to organizations working to restore the planet; others rely on a slow-fashion approach to reduce their impact. The bottom line is there are a number of brands creating clothes and accessories that allow you to simultaneously look and feel good. Because we all know how hard it can be to narrow down your picks to what's really worth your hard-earned dollars, we took the liberty of shopping them all out for you ahead. The best part? Every single one of these pieces is literally made to last.
Ma'am Ruth Heels
These Ma'am shoes are made for walkin'. No, seriously. The cult-favorite shoe brand tested various heel heights along with insole firmness and outsole support to create the most comfortable heel imaginable. You and your feet can also rest easy knowing each and every pair is produced in Los Angeles — minimizing Ma'am's carbon footprint — and arrives neatly packaged in one box (rather than a box within a box).
Ma'am Ruth Heels ($300)
Selva Negra Phoebe Dress
In addition to using deadstock fabric whenever possible, Selva Negra is committed to shipping orders using zero plastic and compostable packing. The Latinx-owned brand even goes so far as to ship stock to its suppliers using reused or recycled boxes. What's more, you can pair this cozy day dress with one of Selva Negra's equally stylish scrunchies or totes (made from scrap fabrics, naturally).
Selva Negra Phoebe Dress ($296, originally $370)
Soraya Hennessy Pastel Polka Midi Bag
This adorable handbag, along with Soraya Hennessy's other accessories, is the direct result of a dedicated approach to slow fashion. Each piece is handmade in an artisan's home, eliminating factory waste and combatting mass production.
Past Life the Collective Skylar Blouse
At Past Life the Collective, one brand's trash is quite literally another brand's treasure. Its flirty, boho-inspired pieces are made entirely from the deadstock fabric waste of other labels. Another sustainable feat? You'll notice that Past Life the Collective has a thing for buttons rather than zippers, mainly because buttons are much easier to recycle.
DL1961 Emma Skinny Low Rise Instasculpt Jeans
Just when you thought you had retired jeans due to the pandemic, DL1961 swoops in and surprises you. Sustainability meets size inclusivity with the family-owned company, which creates styles that conform to your body for the perfect fit and offers an extended size range up to 26w. By using post-consumer waste to create "high performance denim," DL1961 uses only 10 gallons of water per pair. This production method saved approximately 892,518,940 gallons of water in 2019. Pretty impressive!
Agmes Baroque Patrice Earrings
Made from mostly recycled metals, Agmes's sculptural jewelry hits the sweet spot of being modern and timeless. Not to mention, these earrings will surely command attention on your next Zoom call.
Big Bud Short Sleeve Jumpsuit
Lovers of vibrant, vintage-inspired pieces are sure to fall hard for Big Bud. With size representation at its core, the label practices environmental and social responsibility by using materials derived sustainably from plant fabrics. Bonus: Big Bud works predominantly with POC-owned factories in Los Angeles.
Covalent Poppy Tote Handbag
When contemplating the future of handbags, consider Covalent. Taking a particularly innovative approach to sustainable fashion, the brand dubs its minimalist bag "the first carbon-negative handbag." With each handbag backed by blockchain technology, every step of Covalent's production process is trackable. Talk about transparency!
Covalent Poppy Tote Handbag ($480)
Rentrayage Two Tone Trousers
The only thing better than these two-toned suit pants from Rentrayage is the fact that the brand sources most of its fabrics from vintage clothing. As a last resort, it uses virgin silk, cotton, linen, and wool. Plus, whenever you're ready to retire a piece, Rentrayage allows you to send it back so it can repurpose the fabric again (and again).
Rentrayage Two Tone Trousers ($595)
La Fuori Hoi An Blouson
You'll enjoy La Fuori (and hence, this striped silk blouse) if you prefer styles that lean on eclectic resortwear and mentally transport you to a tropical island. The brand is committed to straying away from polyester and nonbiodegradable products and also ensures that its fabric coloring process reduces water and environmental pollution.
La Fuori Hoi An Blousson ($180)
Saint Mojavi Merida Wide-Leg Jumpsuit
Knitwear fanatics will be pleased to know that this beige jumpsuit from Saint Mojavi will pair extremely well with virtually any shoe, jacket, or accessory you could imagine. The brand uses preused fabrics from local markets to execute its slow-fashion approach, so it's no wonder it has attracted celeb fans like Ciara and Emma Roberts.
Parade Universal Hip Hugger
As if the sustainable, size-inclusive (and Insta-famous) underwear startup couldn't get any better, Parade's new Universal collection boasts the world's first carbon-neutral underwear. There are no toxic chemicals to worry about here, as well as no panty lines — you can wear them under pretty much anything.
Advene The Age Bag
Take one look at this chic silhouette, and you'll be able to see how one of Advene's cofounders was a former designer for Coach and Marc Jacobs. The luxury accessories brand cuts down on plastic use to produce sustainable handbags, including using no unnecessary plastic fillers.
Advene The Age Bag ($495)
Mara Hoffman Aranza Dress
You probably don't need much convincing to indulge in this trendy puff-sleeve piece, but it doesn't hurt to know you can feel good about your purchases from Mara Hoffman, too. The New York label steers clear of fur, leather, wool, and feathers, opting instead for natural, recycled, and organic fabrics.
Mara Hoffman Aranza Dress ($350)
Sami Miro Vintage Maximilian Dress
You can find Sami Miro Vintage among the wardrobes of celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez, and it's obvious why. The woman- and POC-owned small business is the visual representation of sustainability meets trend-forward. Miro herself is known for her limited-edition collections, produced from upcycled fabric waste and vintage pieces. Take this denim hourglass dress, for example: it's made from vintage Levi's jeans — and we're absolutely here for it.
Aera Blondie Mule
Luxurious and sustainable, Aera declares itself to be certified vegan and uses a plethora of other eco-friendly materials. In addition to its in-house sustainability efforts, the shoe brand also invests in projects aimed at environmental restoration, such as global reforestation leader GreenTrees.
Aera Blondie Mule ($375)
Hope For Flowers Black and Parchment Dots Slip Dress
With the purchase of this covetable dress, 10 percent of sales are donated to the eco-conscious company Detroit Dirt to offset Hope For Flowers' environmental impact. And it doesn't stop there: the brand uses natural fabrics such as organic cotton grown without pesticides that are known to harm the earth.
yasmina q Fleur Dress
First, let's talk about how this yasmina q dress comes in the most impeccable shade of green. Next, let's talk about sustainability. The brand exclusively uses sustainably sourced or deadstock fabrics (think: organic cotton, sustainable viscose, and recycled polyester). Additionally, you can expect to receive your order in totally recyclable or reusable packaging.
yasmina q Fleur Dress ($818)
Elexiay Sestre Dress
Elexiay's spring-ready dress is produced with recyclable materials and is just one example of how the brand is redefining the use of crochet. Another focus for the brand is creating job opportunities in Nigeria, where every piece is made.
Elexiay Sestre Dress ($350)
Stine Goya Jesy Top
Once you know that organic fabrics can produce a result like this glamorous iridescent top, why ever go back? One example of the natural fabric that Stine Goya uses is Lenzing Ecovero viscose, an alternative to regular viscose that produces up to 50 percent less emissions and water impact.
Stine Goya Jesy Top ($230, originally $460)
Shekudo Kakawa Toe Mule
If you want to make your shoes the focal point of your outfit, add Shekudo to your lineup ASAP. With a wide range of cotton sandals, the Nigeria-based brand encourages slow-fashion practices by working on a made-to-order basis and using recycled insoles.
Shekudo Kakawa Toe Mule ($210)
YanYan Tweedle X-Back Tunic
ICYMI, fashion is all about fun knitwear right now, and YanYan happens to do it exceptionally well. Expect funky patchwork pieces from this young brand with sustainable attributes. YanYan leads the pack with a limited-edition, small-batch capsule approach — counteracting the waste of mass production — and creates its designs using recycled yarn.
YanYan Tweedle X-Back Tunic ($325)