With callout and cancel culture on the rise, it’s getting harder for fashion companies to conceal the fact that 85 percent of the textiles in the US are either burned or end up in landfills. But it’s not all bad news. Last year, France made moves, announcing a ban on the industry-wide practice of burning unsold goods. A staged “funeral” to protest the climate crisis took place at London fashion week, and the first carbon-neutral runway show went down in Paris. Even major fast-fashion players are getting on board. In other words, the tone for 2020 has been set: Choosing not to pay attention is no longer the sustainable option.
Which is why each year we do our part to salute the brands—big and small—that are striving for something more. From the new upstarts to the veteran designers to the most improved (because there’s always room for improvement), these are the feel-good frontrunners and planet-first pioneers changing the fabric of the clothing industry for the better.
Maggie Marilyn’s answer to wholesale demands for churning out cheaper, more profitable clothing? Deliver a super sustainable and seriously well-priced collection, but make it seasonless. The Somewhere collection is a mix of minimal tees, well-tailored blazers, and better-than-basic basics you can wear over and over again. The goal: Wear it to the ground. Then give those pieces a second life through a waste-free system that encourages you to salvage your threadbare shirts by mailing them back when you’re ready to part ways.
Good tailoring may be her calling card, but sustainability is at the heart of everything Gabriela Hearst does. In 2019, Hearst’s house famously went plastic-free and moved over to compostable packaging. She built a stunning flagship store in London using repurposed materials (even the hangers are recycled). And she was the first—first!—ever designer to put on a carbon-neutral show at New York fashion week.
COS’s new Restore collection might make you think twice about tossing your jacket the next time the zipper toggle breaks off. As part of a zero-waste initiative, the brand teamed up with the Renewal Workshop to give second lives to those well-loved pieces from collections past. How it works: COS takes back the damaged goods (and anything that didn’t make it all the way through production), the Renewal Workshop cleans them using a water-free technology and patches them all up, and then COS slashes the prices and repurposes the items as part of a one-off collection available at select stores.
Stella McCartney has been leading the conscious charge since before it was a thing. Her parents were longtime vegetarians and avid animal rights activists. McCartney followed in their footsteps on both fronts, so it makes sense that her MO has always been to create cruelty-free collections (no fur, leathers, or feathers) with an earth-friendly bent (her viscose pieces that come from trees grown in sustainably managed forests).
10 Holland Street Sustainable Kaftans kimonos, robes and dresses. Zero-waste and Ethical Production
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