The 10 Best Sustainable Clothing Brands for an Environmentally-Friendly Closet

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Best Sustainable Clothing Brands

InStyle / David Hattan

As much as we love a shopping spree, we have to be more sustainable in our approach, taking into consideration the long-term effects of the fashion industry. According to the World Bank, the fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. But it’s not just the obvious emissions from online shopping and shipping (although those are pretty bad, too); everything from the power used to mill fabric to the water used to dye fabric that impacts the planet

“The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world right now,” says Kristy Drutman, the host, and founder of Browngirl Green. “From textile waste to carbon emissions and supply chain issues, the fashion industry needs to shift its standards and status quo for the sake of the planet.” 

For this list, we looked for brands that aren’t just greenwashing and performing sustainability — they have plans to reduce their footprint and are transparent about their workers’ rights and wages. While the brands below are an excellent first step, we also have to overhaul our mindsets by taking better care of the clothes that we do have, repairing them when they get damaged, and continuing to be proud outfit repeaters. (Hey, it works for Kate Middleton.)

When you find that you really do need to add a new piece to your wardrobe, find it by supporting one of our favorite sustainable clothing brands below.

Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn

For Christy Dawn, keeping tabs on suppliers isn’t enough. To ensure they’re protecting the planet, the brand creates its romantic, main-character dresses from deadstock (leftover fabric) or regeneratively farmed cotton from land they steward themselves. Simply put, regenerative farming makes the earth healthier and helps the ground absorb carbon from the atmosphere. For their most recent “farm-to-closet” collection (which has us dreaming about running through a field of wildflowers), Christy Dawn partnered with the Oshadi Collective in Erode, India, to regeneratively farm all of the cotton used. As a result, they estimate the local land absorbed 400 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. 

Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective Naomi Workout Dress

Girlfriend Collective

If you’re one of those people who live in your workout clothes, shift your sights to the truly size-inclusive and sustainable Girlfriend Collective. The brand uses post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets, and fabric scraps to make its leggings, sports bras, and bike shorts which come in sizes XXS to 6XL. Even its trendy new workout dress with inner shorts is 90 percent recycled plastic, and its scrunchies are made from scraps to help minimize textile waste.  

Each item comes with a sustainability report, so you can see how much energy you saved and how much CO2 you prevented from entering the atmosphere. You can even recycle leggings for store credit.

Outland Denim

Outland Denim Athina Journey Jeans

Outland Denim

If you want to dress more like Meghan Markle, here’s your chance. She was spotted wearing Outland’s jeans, but the brand also makes jackets, skirts, dresses, and overalls in various cuts and colors, up to a size 34 or XL. 

The Australian brand is pretty serious about making the denim industry better for the planet and its workers. Its mission is to create “denim with dignity,” and it succeeded. It’s super transparent with its environmental goals and suppliers, and all of its products are vegan, made with natural fibers like recycled cotton and lyocell. Most recently, Outland released rigid denim, made without synthetic or elastic fibers, so it doesn’t release microplastics when washed and is easier to recycle. 

What Outland may be best known for, though, is supporting victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation in Cambodia. The brand helps seamstresses rebuild their lives with safe working conditions and a living wage, and empowers them with training on budgeting, computer skills, infant health, self-defense, English, and more.

MATE the Label

Three women in white tee shirts

Mate the Label

Head to Mate for comfortable, trendless basics that will stand the test of time, like T-shirts and tanks, linen sets, and sweatpants. The brand is Climate Neutral certified, and all of its pieces are knitted, cut, sewn, and dyed in Los Angeles near their offices, eliminating unnecessary transportation emissions. Mate even lists its factories on its website

The brand only uses Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton and low-impact, organic, and non-toxic dyes in all of its products. They even create their activewear with less spandex than other brands and uses a fiber recycler to recycle its scraps into other products. Read their 2020 climate impact report here.

Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman top and pants

Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman is known for those undeniably fun, crunchy as popcorn, will-never-wrinkle column dresses that look good on everyone. What people don’t know is the fabric is Tencel Modal, an environmentally friendly material made from beechwood. 

All of Mara Hoffman’s pieces are like her column dresses: they’re colorful and sophisticated, and beneath the surface hides some seriously thoughtful, good-for-the-planet choices. Every decision is a nod to the environment, from sourcing compostable packaging to digital printing instead of dyeing (to save water). The brand has even opted out of traditional runway shows during Fashion Week. Just another reason to get yourself a Mara Hoffman dress of your own.

Naomi Nomi

Naomi Nomi The Easy Dress

Naomi Nomi

New York City-based Naomi Nomi is known for its Oxford shirts and silk scarves, but in the past few years, the brand has expanded into linen work dresses and “commuter” bike shorts. They also sell headbands, scrunchies, cotton masks, and bookmarks made from leftover scraps. Naomi Nomi thoughtfully chooses its fabrics as well, from lyocell (one of the most sustainable materials out there) to sustainably-sourced silk and merino wool. 

You can even stop by the designer Naomi Mishkin’s studio in Brooklyn to pick up your order and save those shipping emissions. It’s a small, women-filled team, and Mishkin celebrates her seamstresses on Naomi Nomi’s website: Atelier Amelia and Faye Sample in the Garment District. 


Knickey Starter Set


Knickey offers comfortable, no-brainer underwear and bras in all sorts of colors and cuts, and are one of our favorite plus-size underwear brands, with sizing up to XXXL. While they make all of their intimates from organic cotton, their recycling program is what sets them apart. 

Underwear experiences a lot of wear and tear and can’t be donated or reused. Knickey created its program to solve that problem and has recycled over half a million items since it began. They recycle cotton pieces into yarn and synthetic materials into furniture padding or insulation. Plus, you get a free pair for each package of underwear you send in. 


Reformation Andee Dress


Reformation is known for its feminine, “it-girl” dresses that remind us of the dancing woman emoji. Celebrities' love for the brand hasn’t diminished over the years: Jennifer Lopez was just spotted wearing the Tagliatelle and Stassie dresses on her honeymoon.

The brand has been certified carbon neutral since 2015 by the nonprofit Climate Neutral and we love that it isn’t stopping there. It’s currently on its way to being climate “positive” by 2025. Reformation makes all their clothes with sustainable materials like Tencel Lyocell, deadstock fabrics, and repurposed vintage clothing in their factory in Los Angeles, where they can ensure fair treatment. They also recently launched their first recyclable sneaker

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Cotton Airy Tuck Long Cardigan

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher is one of those brands that you may remember your mother wearing. It’s been around since the 80s and was one of the first brands to commit to sustainability. Back in 2009, their “Green Eileen” initiative (where Eileen Fisher tried out an eco-friendly, circular business model) was just the start. Now the brand uses exclusively sustainable fabrics like organic linen and regenerative wool and is part of the American Sustainable Business Network and the Science Based Targets Initiative. If you’re looking for sustainable workwear basics or want to lean into the coastal grandmother trend, there’s nowhere better to shop for comfortable skirts, pants, and relaxed knitwear in extended sizing from XXS-3X.

Pact, a member of Fair Trade USA, is a go-to brand for sustainable cardigans, sweater dresses, and all things cozy, making them a must-order brand in Drutman’s eyes. But what we really love from them are their soft and breezy sleep sets, made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) cotton, which feel grown up without sacrificing comfort. They also offer adorable (and super affordable) baby and kids collections made in Fair Trade Certified Factories. Plus, once you place an order, Pact will handle offsetting the shipping.   

Why Shop With Us

Lee Musho is an accomplished writer with work in New York Magazine, The Cut, Thrillist, Eater, and much more. She specializes in digital media, e-commerce, branded content, social media, and photography. She also has a deep interest in sustainability as it relates to fashion. For this story, she tirelessly researched the best brands that actually can be called sustainable and consulted Kristy Drutman, the host, and founder of Browngirl Green.

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