Not unlike the clothes on the runway or outfits in street-style snaps, my inbox sees trends, too. This year—even in the last month—I've been receiving one e-mail after another announcing the launch of an eco-friendly brand that promises to deliver apparel that's as sustainable as it is chic. Did Earth Month come early? It seems that way, given just how much green all the designers have been seeing. And by green, we mean a shared vision of saving the Earth.
Perhaps it's the Reformation effect, the brand that has actually reformed the industry with its incredibly chic and minimalist do-good, feel-good, shop-good designs, where everything is made in-house at its LA-based sustainable sewing factory and each piece comes with its own RefScale to denote how much water and carbon dioxide was saved.
Or perhaps it's Zady's doing, the lifestyle e-comm brand that has tirelessly advocated transparency from the very beginning, putting forth a "call to action" for brands to adopt ethical, sustainable practices. Or, perhaps this newfound change of heart is simply a natural, organic backlash against years of fast fashion, trend-chasing, and knowing how terrible factory conditions are overseas (watch The True Cost documentary on Netflix if you want a good cry).
Much like Reformation, the offerings from this new crop of sustainably minded fashion brands go beyond the basic tee and other very simplistic silhouettes that were once exclusive to eco-friendly labels. There are chic, very Celine-like minimalist separates, modern cuts (kick-flare culottes and boxy fringed tops), and quality fabrics—the work of talented designers, including alums who graduated from prestigous brands like Preen and Roland Mouret. And why should we only write about sustainability during one month or one day of the year? Making an effort to make the world a greener place should be at the forefront every. single. day. From made-to-order business models to recycled fabrics, get to know the 10 new-ish brands that will change the way you shop—for the better.
Cienne just celebrated its one-year anniversary. And even though the brand is still technically in its infancy, it's light years ahead in its design approach. Fabrics are globally sourced, and all garments are made in the good 'ol USA—right in the heart of New York City's garment district, actually. And to avoid accidentally making a surplus of its highly versatile pieces, the brand only works with low-minimum suppliers to minimize waste.
Righting a wrong when it's a world away can seem like a near impossible feat, but Shivam Punjya has tasked himself with just that after a visit to India when he saw the terrible, inhumane factory conditions the women endured (and the equally terrible under $1 a day pay). He launched Behno, a brand that has teamed up with a non-profit in India to create a new factory model in rural Gujarat that not only implements fair wages and safe working conditions, but also an eco-conscious mindset.
3. Being Apparel
Whether she intended to or not, but designer Shonagh Speirs (an alumna of prestigious brands like Preen and Roland Mouret) has inadvertently created an eco-friendly version of athleisure-wear. Aimed to cater to the lives of busy, modern-day women, her collection comprises leggings, fluid skirts, and apron wrap dresses—each cut from environmentally-friendly bamboo and Tencel fabrics.
Look we love: Being Apparel dress, $170; beingapparel.com
4. Study NY
We're obsessed with Study NY, a brand that prides itself for its zero-waste pattern-making methods. Designer Tara St James has effectively fused sustainability and design with a line-up of minimalist pieces cut from hemp, organic cotton, ethically sourced alpaca, or recycled materials. Its motto, "Making Fashion without Making Waste," pretty much sums it up.
Look we love: Study NY knotted shirtdress, $240; study-ny.com
5. Fame and Partners
Fame and Partners supplies customized clothing based on demand, which means that thanks to its made-to-order model, there's a zero chance of excess waste. Browse through its library of styles, find one you love, and specify the length, color, and the silhouette you want.
Look we love: Fame and Partners separates, $249; fameandpartners.com
Designers Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo set out to redefine wardrobe fundamentals with their line Svilu. And they succeeded with sleek, modern pieces, but they took it one step further by crafting them from eco-conscious fabrics. Each piece is not only mindfully and locally sourced, but some even boast leftover scraps from the previous season (as linings or trimming).
7. Where Mountains Meet
We've been looking forward to the launch of Where Mountains Meet since Earth Month earlier this year (and that day is nearly here!). Designers Genevieve Saylak and Corissa Santos have brought their socially and environmentally conscious vision to life with a range of designs that we want to wear asap, including textured boxy cuts, culotte jumpsuits, and versatile shirts all saturated in a rich color palette.
Scroll through the fall 2016 lookbook at wheremountainsmeet.com.
Olderbrother is a made-in-the-USA brand that not only breaks down gender norms in clothing with pieces made for people, tailored to fit "men, women, and those in-between equally." What's more, everything is hand-dyed naturally and cut from eco-conscious textiles, from organic fabrics to renewable plant-based synthetics. That means, once you're done with a garment, you can bury it and let it decompose organically.
YSTR, the fledgling brand that launched a couple months ago(!), is changing the way we shop by saying no to fast fashion and instead, focusing on its energy to make quality, timeless pieces that blend the past, present, and future. As for its green approach, the brand is minimizing waste with a cut-to-order model, creating pieces only when an order is placed.
Look we love: YSTR ruffled top, $128; ystrclothing.com