12 Conscious Gift Ideas for the Fashion Lover in Your Life

Conscious Gift Ideas for the Fashion Lover in Your Life
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

Holiday shopping for the fashion-obsessed loved ones on your list is a seemingly easy task. Clothes, accessories, shoes — these items are virtually everywhere, with unlimited options, practically guaranteeing you'll find the perfect gift. However, there's more to clothes than the material they're made from; how they're made, who's making them, and how those employees are treated in the workplace matter more than a designer label. So rather than tossing any cozy-looking sweater in your cart, you might want to consider conscious gift ideas for the fashion lover in your life — especially if their values lie in sustainability.

So how can you tell if the clothes you intend to buy are consciously made? It's as simple as a quick Internet search, but it's also beneficial for you to educate yourself on the difference between conscious (re: sustainable) clothing versus fast fashion. That way, the next time you want to make a purchase for yourself, you can decide for yourself which aligns with your beliefs.

According to former editor at Vogue and The Economist, Mary Fellowes, CEO and founder of sustainable fashion consultancy GreenWith Studio, fast-fashion is lower-priced apparel and accessories shops. The reason they're so affordable?

"Someone else, located somewhere else, has paid the real cost. In short, the planet and its people," Fellowes tells InStyle.

"A $5 t-shirt, for example, comprises the following: cotton is grown, watered, harvested, spun into yarn somewhere else, transported to be woven into fabric, dyed elsewhere, cut & stitched elsewhere, maybe embellished at another facility. Sent to a warehouse, dispatched, sent to the shop floor," Fellowes continues. Yet, all this amount of labour and processing adds up to one shirt costing about as much as a Starbucks coffee.

On the other side of the industry is conscious, sustainable fashion, which, Fellowes says, is clothing made responsibly and ethically, toward the people and the planet. "[The brands aren't] using precious raw materials unnecessarily, not ruining the earth from which the fibres were grown, not exploiting cheap labour for workers who are often in conditions that would be considered forced or slave labour in the global north," she continues. "Sustainable fashion has kindness woven into its seams. It empowers rather than abuses."

Bottom line: Conscious fashion is clothing rooted in empathy, with ethical and sustainable roots. Investing in conscious fashion is an investment in the planet, so if you're shopping for gifts you can feel good about gifting the fashion lover on your list, here are a few items from brands who meet this criteria.

01 of 12

PXG Cactus Leather Signature Tote

10 Conscious Gift Ideas for the Fashion Lover in Your Life
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A sleek and versatile tote bag is a sure bet when hunting for that perfect gift to give. What makes this bag even more special is the vegan leather PXG has used to create their extraordinary handbag collection. This unique vegan leather is made from eco-friendly Nopal Cactus, making it a material that is completely plant based, PVC free, and heavy metal free organic. The regenerative production process used to make the leather also leaves the cactus unharmed, allowing for repeat harvests from the same plant.

02 of 12

Janessa Leone Marley Straw Fedora Hat

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Per the brand's "About" page, Janessa Leone designs are "guided by the principle of conscious consumption." Quality of life, wellbeing, and open communication are three pillars made a priority for its workers behind the scenes, and the designer only collaborates with with vendors and factories that share the same values. It's a brand you can trust, and a brand whose products last as they're made from high quality materials. This beautiful fedora, for example, is made from imported straw, metal, and leather materials. It's made in the USA, and comes in small, medium, and large sizes.

03 of 12

Sezane Johnson Coat

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Sezane lays out both its sustainability and philanthropic practices on its website, ensuring full transparency between the brand and its customers. The certified B-Corp believes a company is reflective of its clients, its founders, and its workers, and is dedicated to alleviating its environmental footprint (¾ of the materials in its current collections are eco-friendly). It remains conscious of its working conditions, and gives back to the community through donations to programs that support education and equal opportunities for children on a global scale. Ergo, you can feel good knowing that an investment in Sezane clothing, like the mid-length Johnson coat, is an investment in more than just material.

04 of 12

Sponsored: Citizen Eco-Drive Watch

Eco-Drive Watch

For the sustainably-minded accessory lover on your shopping list, only a great timepiece will do. The Citizen Gold Stiletto watch features a sleek asymmetrical design and a classic black dial. It's sustainably powered by any light. No batteries required.

05 of 12

Levi's 725 High Rise Bootcut Jeans

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This pair of high rise bootcut jeans from Levis is part of the brand's Water<Less collection. Since its launch in 2011, the sustainability campaign has single-handedly reused and recycled a whopping 6 billion liters of water. Additionally, 75% of Levi's cotton originates from sustainable sources, while 65% of Levi products are now made in factories that run its Worker Well-being initiative.

06 of 12

Pact Classic Cable Knit Sweater Dress

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A cozy, cable knit sweater dress is a timeless closet staple in the fall and winter months, and investing in a piece like this one from Pact guarantees you'll not only receive quality clothing, but you'll also be supporting a brand that values people and the planet. Dubbed "Earth's Favorite Clothing," Pact apparel is made from 100% organic cotton that requires less water and chemicals to grow. What's more, the brand exclusively partners with Fair Trade-certified factories that provide a safe working environment and actively protect the planet.

07 of 12

Kotn Unisex Scarf

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Scarves work as gifts or stocking stuffers, but there's more to this unisex accessory than keeping your neck warm. Kotn's scarf is made from 100% BCI cotton, courtesy of the Better Cotton Initiative, a sustainability program in which cotton farmers adhere to specific criteria to grow the fiber more holistically. This includes using alternative pest control techniques to minimze the use of harmful chemicals, reevaluate water usage, better soil management, promote fair working conditions, and more.

08 of 12

Nisse Vivica Fur Coat

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The Vivica Fur Coat from Nicce is fun, fabulous, and, most notably, faux. In addition to being animal- and vegan-friendly, Nisse is a friend to the environment as well. A firm believer in total transparency with consumers, Nisse states on its website that the team is constantly "researching, finding and sourcing sustainable fabrics," as well adhering to manufacturing methods that "guarantees a relation with trust-worthy certified providers."

09 of 12

Akola Nevaeh Chandelier Pearl Earring

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Sustainable jewelry can also make for a lovely conscious gift idea for the fashion fan on your nice list, and the Akola Nevaeh Chandelier Pearl Earring is a perfect example. Made from locally-sourced, high-quality materials like 10k gold tone metals, surgical steel posts, and white baroque pearls, the accessory (as well as all the brand's offerings) is handcrafted by women in Uganda (the earrings also feature four Blonde Natural horn beads that were hand carved in Akola's Ugandan horn studio). Akola directly employs some of the most at-risk women in the entire world, previously lacking a dependable source of income with no support system. The brand works with each woman to unlock her skills and spark her individual confidence, capital, community, and power.

10 of 12

Cleobella The Sims Pajama Set

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For the conscious fashionista who lowkey prefers days when she can just lounge in a luxurious pajama set, there's globally inspired and ethically handmade Cleobella. The clothing and accessories brand is dedicated to sustainability supporting independent artisans around the world. GOTS-certified with a focus on sustainable fabrics that are biodegradable, this matching pants set from the brand's collaboration with Molly Sims is as ethically sound as it is dreamy. What's more, at checkout, Cleobella invites customers to choose one of four organizations that a percentage of your purchase will be donated to: One Tree Planted, Ibu Foundations, Girls Inc., and/or Bloom India.

11 of 12

Amour Vert Minerva Wool Sweater

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Cozy sweaters are always a crowd pleaser, but there are so many to choose from that it can be tricky deciphering which brand is actually worth supporting with your purchase. One option is Amour Vert, whose designs are "labors of environmental love." Unlike competitors, Amour Vert partners with mills to create its own sustainable, ethical, and environmentally-friendly fabrics, including the non-mulesed, merino wool that helps the brand create its soft, zero-waste sweaters.

12 of 12

Made by Mary Love Bar Necklace

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Customizable jewelry can also be sustainable. Case in point: this darling necklace from Made by Mary (a personal favorite of this writer). Available in rose gold, yellow gold, or silver, the bar-style bling is a sweet memento that makes for the perfect conscious fashion gift. All metals and materials used are sustainably sourced, workers are paid fair wages, and the products are ethically made. Plus, each beautiful piece is hand cut, stamped, shaped, assembled, and packaged by the Made by Mary team in Draper, Utah, so you'll always know where it's coming from.

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