Courtesy of L’Intervalle.
At a time when fast fashion is slowly disappearing and ethically-conscious shoppers are looking to wear brands that align with their values, it’s hard for entrepreneurs to decide what parts of sustainability to prioritize while remaining relevant in the fashion world.
Each of these brands has managed to merge style and ethics in their own way while maintaining a high level of craft and a solid, eager audience. Some started embracing sustainability early, and some are starting now—just in time for Earth Day, April 22—but all have a joint goal of making responsible fashion, and adorning human bodies with artful pieces that never hurt our planet.
Most Instagram users who are interested in fashion have scrolled past an Alohas influencer post at one point or another. For almost six years, the company’s catered to a social media culture which has required it to remain unbelievably on-trend, without missing a beat. That’s why it’s so surprising for some shoppers to learn that at its core, the company is much more organic than that.
Alohas was founded out of CEO Alejandro Porras’ love of Hawaiian culture, which is very much focused on respecting nature and enjoying the pure beauties of life. Since starting the company, Porras’ vision has been to create unique and coveted pieces for the modern woman, that can be worn season after season and are both current in their style and luxurious in their materials.
Ethics has also been a big priority, and since Alohas is a young brand, the decision to be sustainable was a no-brained for the founder from the start.
Martini Black sandal, by Alohas.
Because every product is made on demand, the team never overproduces, and because their factories are in Spain, where their headquarters are, they avoid wasting energy on travel and shipping, which in turn reduces their carbon footprint.
“We are a fast-fashion but sustainable brand,” Porras said. “Because we are on demand, we are able to take the risk and capture all the crazy new trends. So we are very ahead on the trends because we only have to create a sample of each piece and it’s the customers who decide if we are going to produce it or not.”
Each customer—influencer or not—has to wait six to eight weeks for their pieces to arrive, and while that may seem like it could deter some from shopping, the brand has gained such notoriety that shipping times haven’t been a problem. Plus, there’s something to be said for the fact that Alohas would rather risk losing impatient customers than sacrifice their sustainable manufacturing system, especially when a large part of their audience is so used to one-day shipments and disposable fashion.
Tied Together sandal in stone and beige, by Alohas.
Even among sustainable brands, Alohas stands out because of its unique production and design methods. They way Porras explained their model is: If the brand launches a sample shoe on its website and customers don’t order it, that’s the end of the shoe—no waste, no harm done. And, if the team is lucky and 5,000 people order the shoe, then exactly 5,000 pairs of that shoe are handmade and shipped. It’s not a new business model, but it’s certainly a difficult one to maintain, especially by a brand as popular as Alohas.
“Usually sustainable brands try to create very timeless and essential styles, but we can take those risks, in following and getting ahead of the trends, because we only produce what the customers want, and we believe that’s the best way to be sustainable” Porras said. “We offer the trends which we think are hottest on the market without any risk to the environment or to our company.”
Though Alohas’ designs may speak to a younger generation, the quality of their products—which are manufactured in Ubrique and Alicante, in the same factories used by many couture brands—speaks to a mature and conscious shopper.
Willow Black sandal, by Alohas.
To celebrate their commitment to sustainability, the brand is holding an Instagram Live on Earth Day “to discuss fashion industry facts, sustainability and environmental challenges we
need to tackle,” the team said. They are also partnering with more than 45 content creators who are joining them on TikTok and Instagram to show off their sustainable, fabulous lives.
FARM Rio’s designs are simply works of art. The fashion and lifestyle brand creates pieces that capture the true essence of Brazil: the joy, the purity, the sophisticated styles and the vibrant colors. It’s impossible not to fall in love with their wildly fun prints and flattering silhouettes, which co-founder Katia Barros said are “inspired by the culture, nature and colors of Rio de Janeiro.”
Some of the brand’s iconic prints are of colorful toucans, bananas and cashews—all which look incredibly chic on everything from mini dresses to sweaters, swimsuits and bags. Think rainforest goddess, but with a modern twist.
Courtesy of FARM Rio.
Barros founded the brand with Marcello Bastos in 1997. What started as just a small booth at a marketplace in Rio de Janeiro has since become one of Brazil’s most beloved labels, with 80 stores still booming across the country. And because the joy that FARM Rio’s designs bring is hard to contain, the brand expanded into the U.S. in 2019 and now has stores in New York City and Miami, and pop-ups in Los Angeles and Montauk, New York.
The team even has partnerships with global brands including Adidas, Levi’s and Havaianas and retail partnerships with Shopbop, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.
It’s refreshing that FARM Rio has gained such a large audience yet is still able to maintain its unapologetic “love of life” aesthetic so deeply inspired by Barros’ roots, as well as its sustainable practices.
“Nature has always been our home and we’re passionate about taking impactful steps to ensure it will keep inspiring new generations with all its power and diversity,” Barros said.
The team has been working hard to introduce more responsible fibers into their collections, in fact, 27% of their Spring 2021 collection is made with sustainable materials such as Lenzing Ecovero Viscose, certified organic cotton and Fluity Lycra.
Courtesy of FARM Rio.
Barros said they’re looking to certify their entire supply chain and are excited to have joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition as part of this process. “We also continue to work closely with One Tree Planted, an organization whose mission is to make it simple for people to give back to the environment,” she said. “For each purchase made on our website, stores and other authorized retailers, we plant one tree in the Amazon.”
Since launching the brand, she said they’ve have planted over 128,500 trees in the Amazon Rainforest and the Atlantic Forest. “Our goal is to help recover endangered forest ecosystems and protect freshwater supply, and we want to make it easy for our customers to join us in this mission,” Barros added.
The team also has a partnership with the Yawanawa people of the Gregório River, in the Amazon. FARM Rio supports the community and helps them celebrate their history through creative and reforestation projects, digital inclusion and cultural festivals.
Courtesy of FARM Rio.
“We believe that clothes are vital tools of self-expression,” Barros said. “We draw on the laid-back Brazilian lifestyle, where we can go from work to the beach to the bar, to create versatile silhouettes that take you through the day and inspire a carefree and joyful attitude to life.”
Threads 4 Thought
Threads 4 Thought was born purely out of a need for truly ethically-made, honest and sustainable clothing for the modern customer—women, men, kids, everyone.
The materials they use to make their fabrics are raw and sustainable, and all their factories are both audited by the team and by third-party agencies to make sure they adhere to the brand’s code of conduct, CEO Eric Fleet said.
The company recently released a new collection of T-shirts, pullovers, joggers and activewear sets, “all sustainable, all stylish, all cozy” and all in colors shoppers are craving this spring.
Courtesy of Threads 4 Thought.
Threads 4 Thought
When asked who the team designs for, Fleet said, “We design for eco-conscious people who want to live a more sustainable life and leave less of an impact on the environment. They are typically active and engaged in their community, and enjoy comfort and effortless style for their daily lives.”
Their inspiration for each collection, Fleet said, comes from nature and current events, and they are constantly experimenting with the versatility of their own organic materials.
While the brand does follow trends to some extent, their primary focus is to create high-quality, durable staple pieces that incorporate the fashion of the moment through their colors and prints.
“In general we really try to focus on the softness of our fabrics,” Fleet said. “Our feather fleece fabric is so amazingly soft. It is made from sustainable Lenzing Modal that comes from beach trees, and it is one of our best-selling lounge fabrics that works in almost any style we put it in.”
Coming from a background as an automotive designer, Vicki von Holzhausen launched Von Holzhausen with the purpose of creating a fashion brand that solves real-world problems.
“My goal for the brand is to replace leather with high-tech alternatives that have a much lower carbon footprint, outperform leather and have longevity far beyond traditional leather,” she said. I feel that as designers, we have a limited time to solve the environmental issues at hand, and I’m committed to using my talents and the Von Holzhausen brand to make an impact.”
The founder said she is on a mission to make cow leather “extinct” in fashion. It’s because she believes in vegan alternatives that she recently launched a Banbū Leather bag collection. The material is a leather alternative made from bamboo fibers and coated with a plant-based resin. The end products is soft and luxurious to the touch, as well as durable and biodegradable.
Courtesy of Von Holzhausen.
The brand also uses Technik-Leather, which is created entirely from recycled materials, is 100% animal-free and captures the essence of leather without the negative environmental impact.
In addition, all of Von Holzhausen’s bags and accessories are made in world-class factories where artisans work under ethical conditions and have fair wages and benefits.
“We believe luxury and ethics go hand in hand,” Vicki von Holzhausen said. “By creating high-quality, premium products that are built to last, we provide sustainable alternatives that are just as beautiful as any other designer accessory on the market, thereby encouraging people to buy more sustainable products.”
If you’re looking for the heels of the season, L’intervalle’s new collection of colorful, strappy sandals is the definition of fire emoji, piña colada emoji, tongue emoji spring-summer goodness.
The brand was founded in 2015 after husband and wife Sam Assaf and Vicky Scalia noticed a gap in the market between high- and low-end footwear. They realized it was hard to shop for shoes that were both affordable and of quality. The name of the brand, which essentially means “gap” in French, comes from that concept.
L’intervalle’s products are designed in Montreal, where the team’s headquarters are, and handmade in Spain, Italy and Brazil. Though they drop new products every week, and seem like a fast-fashion, Insta-famous brand, each collection is produced in limited quantities, which means little to no product goes to waste, and collections are only expanded when there is demand from customers.
Courtesy of L’intervalle.
“As individuals, we believe in personal responsibilities to our communities and our planet. Furthermore, as parents to two teenage children, we feel fiercely dedicated in doing our part in preserving the planet for future generations,” Assaf and Scalia said.
Their commitment to ethics is reflected in their manufacturing system and business model.
“All our manufacturing employees—many of whom have been passionately crafting for 40 years—have fair wedges and quality work conditions,” the founders said. “These values are integral at each stage of our production, whether it be at a corporate level or in one of our 15 retail locations across Canada.”
Cactus and apple leather are hot commodities in fashion right now—as more brands gravitate toward the use of vegan fabrics—but few products made out of these natural materials have the fine European craftsmanship of Miomojo’s handbags.
Designer Claudia Pievani started the brand in the Italian city of Bergamo, in 2012, when, after working for several years in the business, she said she felt she had to give “a higher meaning” to her work by making elegant, quality products that fit into the fashion market and aligned with her values.
Courtesy of Miomojo.
“So, I began my personal odyssey to provide cruelty-free alternatives, made with respect and Italian style,” she said. “I wanted to create something aligned with my ethical and aesthetic values, for the planet and all the living beings.”
While fashion has gotten more ethical since she founded her company, Pievani was and is still ahead of the game. Apart from using 100% vegan, recycled, organic and sustainable materials in all of her collections, she adopted, from the very beginning, a business model in which charity projects are firmly integrated into everything Miomojo does.
The brand—which is on its way to becoming a B Corp—has a partnership with Animals Asia, an organization that is trying to end bear bile trade in the continent. With every Miomojo product sold, the company gives a donation to Animals Asia. That money is then used to finance specific, concrete projects agreed upon by the two teams.
Courtesy of Miomojo.
“Ethics and sustainability are exactly at the core of our business—what pushed us from the very beginning. They are values I have always personally believed in and applied in my everyday life, so it was a natural consequence to create a business based on them,” Pievani said.
As a master of vegan, kind design, Pievani’s goal with Miomojo is to “create beautiful products while at the same time saving lives.” She said, “With creativity and compassion, we have proved it’s possible to have fashion without fashion victims. Luxury and sustainability can and have to go hand in hand.”
Tim Brown, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, and Joey Zwillinger, a renewables expert, founded footwear and apparel brand Allbirds in 2016 out of a desire to make “better things in a better way.”
“Sustainability has been our North Star since day one,” the team said. “We’re a carbon-neutral brand that’s proving that products can be both better for the planet and better for consumers.”
They formed Allbirds as a Public Benefit Corporation, meaning they’re legally bound to their environmental commitment. They also became a certified B Corp before they even launched their first product in March 2016.
“We did so because we believe that climate change is an existential threat and that the private sector has an important role to play in solving this issue,” the team said.
Following their mission to sustainability, they’re constantly looking to create stylish and functional products that celebrate the natural materials they’re made of. The TrinoXO Classic Tee collection, for example, contains a unique mix of ZQ-certified wool, cooling Tencel from eucalyptus trees and Allbirds’ patented XO fibre, which is derived from crab shells and has natural odor-fighting capabilities, the team said.
The team understands that sustainability can mean “10 different things to 10 different people,” from water usage to microplastics, to deforestation. And all of these issues are important to them, but they believe that nothing is more urgent than carbon pollution, which is why they’ve built their entire brand around the issue.
Wool Runner Fluff, by Allbirds.
“Too much carbon causes climate change, and right now humankind is emitting way too much carbon,” they said. “That’s why we’re a 100% carbon neutral brand and are the first fashion and footwear brand to label all of our products with their carbon footprint—similar to nutritional labels on food packaging. We believe our customers have a right to know how much CO2 is emitted when creating an Allbirds product and hope the entire industry will follow suit and commit to true carbon accountability.”
Though Allbirds is as ethical as fashion brands get, their products are also wonderfully chic and modern. Their women’s Wool Runner Fluffs, for example, have gone viral on Instagram thanks to their cozy-chic design, which was been very much on-trend during the pandemic.
Allbirds’ primary customers are “urban, young professionals who often work in creative fields and are increasingly focused on climate issues,” the team said. “They’re travelers and explorers who are curious and willing to try new things. They have high expectations around quality and design but also think deeply about the origin and impact of the things they buy.”
Scotch & Soda
Scotch & Soda started out as a men’s fashion brand when it was initially launched in 1985 in Amsterdam. Now, however, its’s expanded into kids’ and women’s apparel, fragrance and accessories—and thank goodness for that.
The brand makes some of the most interesting, lively prints in the business, and their new womenswear collection has pieces that can make a lady stand out at a yacht party, in the country, at the park or at the office.
Courtesy of Scotch & Soda.
Scotch & Soda
The team describes the Scotch & Soda as “endlessly optimistic” and adventurous, and any customer of theirs would have to agree. The collection is inspired by Simone Melchior Cousteau, the 1950s sea explorer who challenged expectations of her gender and became the world’s first female scuba diver and a pioneer of marine conservation. The garments, in their dirty peaches, honey mustards, rich coppers and silky creams, bring the care-free joy and sophistication that every shopper wants to be wearing this spring—and this Earth Day.
Apart from being hot and in demand, the brand is committed to creating every garment responsibly. The team said they are careful about selecting who they work with, and they only operate with factories and manufacturers where stringent environmental policies and good working conditions are ensured.
“From the raw materials to the finished garment, our end goal is to be completely transparent about where and who manufactures our clothes,” the team said. “We are also in the process of documenting the start of the supply chain, to provide transparency all the way back to the raw materials. The process of mapping allows us to measure our social and environmental impact and set effective targets for improvement.”
Courtesy of Scotch & Soda.
Scotch & Soda
In 2013, Scotch & Soda became a member of the Amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (Amfori BSCI), the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. It is a business-driven initiative for companies committed to improving working conditions in the global supply chain. The brand will also soon be partnering with Ethical Trade Initiative and Textile Exchange, to help positively impact the planet through the use of eco-friendly materials.
“Designing beautiful clothes that feel good is one thing. But we also imagine a world where we are doing good,” the team said. “One of our top priorities is to run our business with greater sensitivity to our planet by making more responsible choices every day that reduce our environmental impact.”
Sisters Connie and Julie Kuo founded footwear brand AVRE in 2019, in an effort to celebrate women’s strength and individuality while also helping save the planet.
“Learning about how the fashion industry was damaging our planet, my sister and I knew we wanted to bring a solution to the problem,” Connie said. “We knew there was a way to blend our background in design and merge it with modern technology to offer women sustainable shoes.”
Each AVRE shoe is made with recycled plastics from 8-10 recycled P.E.T water bottles and verifiable REPREVE recycled polyester Yarn by UNIFI: one of the most certified, traceable fibers available in the world.
Courtesy of AVRE.
“By using recycled threads, we are able to create footwear with 45% less energy use, 20% less water consumption and ultimately less emissions,” the sisters said, adding that this also helps protect the oceans, decrease waste in landfills and improve air quality.
Amazingly, all the shoes are also machine washable, which makes them ideal for daily wear.
After the shoes are created, they are tested and verified with Unifi—one of the most respected sustainable verification companies. In the end, the shoes are shipped to their new owners in boxes made entirely of recycled materials.
Connie and Julie live their lives like they run their company: with ethics always in mind. The two often donate their proceeds to Oceana, Equality now and Girls in Teach. “We are all about making a difference,” they said.
ÉTICA was started by Agustin Ramirez, who owns Hera Apparel, a denim manufacturer in Puebla, Mexico. Ramirez was always passionate about environmental issues, and spent years pioneering sustainable manufacturing in Mexico, investing in advanced laundry tech like E-flow and Ozone, forming alliances with advocacy groups and collecting certifications for environmental impact and social responsibility, so launching a brand that incorporated his values felt natural to him.
Since 2018, Ramirez and his small but mighty team have been designing women’s elevated but casual apparel—with a focus on denim—from their Los Angeles headquarters. His goal is to create responsibly-made products that are durable, timeless and innovative in terms of their fabric, wash techniques and technology.
Courtesy of ÉTICA.
“It wasn’t easy; the denim market was fairly saturated and it took some time to fine-tune our messaging,” Creative Director Michelle Marsh said. “At the heart of it though, we believe in the need for a truly sustainable brand that is modern and authentic, and we’ve shaped the brand around that belief.”
ÉTICA sources responsibly at every stage, using organic cotton, alternative fibers like Tencel and Refibra and recycled and biodegradable materials for their trims and packaging. They also choose their suppliers carefully, based on their commitment to the environment and fair labor practices.
The company uses E-flow technology, which washes by converting air into nanobubbles, and which saves them thousands of gallons of water per load. They save even more water and avoid harsh chemicals by using ozone gas to lighten and clean their denim. “Typical, dry processing requires chemicals like potassium permanganate and caustic soda, which can be harmful to employees, local water and soil,” Marsh said. “Instead, we use laser technology to create authentic vintage effects without any residual pollution.”
Courtesy of ÉTICA.
ÉTICA uses Bluesign certified low impact chemicals in their wash house. These include plant and mineral dyes and softeners, as well as safe, alternative lightening agents. They also use a clean chemical called Protector CVD to sterilize their denims, all of which are anti-microbial and anti-viral. On top of that, their high-efficiency hanging dryers recycle the steam created in the drying process for energy.
But ethics in terms of working rights is just as important to them. Their factory provides living wages, free meals and benefits for the staff. Plus, the company gives back through local food scarcity and housing projects and recycles their factory water to feed several acres of farmland in surrounding areas. They even have an onsite aquaponic garden, which they use to grow food for the local community.
It doesn’t get much more sustainable that that.
Cuyana was founded in 2011 by Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah, as a conscious fashion brand with “fewer, better” as the foundational philosophy. Sustainability was woven into the fabric of the company from the very beginning, and over the years, their commitment to it has become more and more evident.
“We design thoughtfully, ensuring we maintain an average sell through rate of 90%,” the founders said. “Each piece is crafted with high quality materials and timeless design in order to ensure a long lifespan—an essential that will serve a purpose in wardrobes for years to come.”
Courtesy of Cuyana.
The Cuyana woman is intentional about all aspects of her life, including awareness of her impact on the environment, the founders said. It’s because of this woman that the team strives to deliver timeless, high-quality pieces that will remain in their customers’ wardrobes and out of landfills.
The brand is committed to using 100% sustainably-made materials by 2022, and they are on track to achieve that goal, as 99.6% of their current spring assortment is made from natural or recycled materials. The newest material in their suite of natural, non-synthetic fabrics is washable silk. They also use recycled cashmere, single-origin cashmere, alpaca, wool, pima and several others.
Courtesy of Cuyana.
Cuyana is proof that ethically-made items can still be every bit wearable, sophisticated and luxurious. “Consumer habits and purchase decisions have a significant impact on the environment, and we pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability by remaining conscious in our output and extending the product life cycle,” the founders said.
Most recently, they debuted their convertible belt bag, which is ideal for commuting and can easily be made into a party bag or a casual crossbody. “As we ease into summer this year, there is a new excitement building around getting dressed again,” the founders said. “We wanted to create beautiful, timeless pieces that effortlessly transition the wardrobe away from the loungewear and toward elevated comfort.” The one-of-a-kind bag changes with each shopper’s routine, just like the brand has managed to change with the times.
The Peruvian Alps
Alpaca fur has been used by artisans for years—especially in South America—but few global fashion brands have been able to include it in their collections in a way that is attractive to young shoppers around the world.
Orietta Chong Massa, Sebastian Lam Lau and Mario Rangel Hurtado launched the brand in 2019 with one concept in mind: home. The three founders from Peru share a common goal to create beautiful, long-lasting products which are comfortable, casual yet elegant, ethically-made, expertly designed and which celebrate their native country.
Courtesy of The Peruvian Alps.
The Peruvian Alps
The Peruvian Alps’ pieces are made out of alpaca fiber, which, though it’s not a vegan material, is produced in an entirely harmless way. Because alpacas need their fur sheared periodically to avoid suffocation or asphyxia, shearing actually helps them.
“Our customer is someone looking for garments of the best quality, but also cares deeply about the environment,” the team said.
Since there are 20 natural colors of alpaca fiber, the company doesn’t need to waste water or chemicals by dyeing their pieces.
The team is also devoted to reducing waste and plastic use, which is why they use cardboard boxes, organic cotton and paper instead of plastic for packaging, whenever possible.
Courtesy of The Peruvian Alps.
The Peruvian Alps
The founders deeply believe in the beauty of nature and cultural roots and have incorporated that love into every part of their brand. As a company, they support local artisans and workers, and all their suppliers and materials are sourced from different parts of Peru. They also believe in slow fashion and in investing in quality; though they admit their prices are not low, they say their customers know the pieces are worth the money, because they are made from a natural, luxury fabric that is built to last in every kind of weather.
“We, as customers, know the great value a brand obtains when it’s consistent with what they preach and credible. And to gain credibility, we must be genuine, authentic and stand for something,” they said. “In this case, we are stand for sustainable growth, putting the safety of natural resources first and promoting slow fashion as an alternative to the high-polluting fashion industry.”
Made by Mary
This small jewelry brand started in 2013 by a busy mom is creating some of the sweetest hoops of the season. Their Poppy Collection has become a favorite among young women, not only because of its delicate, pretty design, but also because of the brand’s inspiring story.
“Poppies are my favorite flower, they bring joy, comfort and are a symbol of resilience. I wanted to create a collection that would subtly remind customers of their own poppy-like strength,” founder and designer Mary Moody said.
Courtesy of Made by Mary.
Made by Mary
Moody launched the company as a passion project when she was experiencing postpartum depression and wanted to make something beautiful that she and other women could enjoy. But over the years, the brand has morphed into something even bigger. The founder, keeping her ethical values in mind and wanting to give her company a deeper meaning, has made a conscious effort to work with sustainable manufacturers and vendors and implement various sustainable practices. All of the brand’s mailers and boxes are now recyclable, the materials for all of the custom jewelry are made and assembled in the U.S. and the team saves the scrap metal from each piece to make sure it’s reused.
Made by Mary also donates to organizations that are giving back to the planet. On April 22, in honor of Earth Day, the team will be donating 20% off all their proceeds from their Grounded Disc Collection to 1% for the Planet, a global nonprofit that delivers philanthropic support to environmental organizations.
For a small Los Angeles accessories brand, Ettika is doing a lot of good. The company has made a name for itself all over social media because of its desirable, beachy bags and fun, nickel and lead free jewelry inspired by nature. But one of the greatest parts about the company is its devotion to giving back.
“Ethics first start with figuring out what your own values are and translating that outwardly. At Ettika, we wholeheartedly embrace our #WearWithConfidence mantra,” the team said, referring to their shopping model, which encourages each customer to give $5 to one of the company’s monthly charity partners in exchange for 15% off their entire purchase.
Courtesy of Ettika.
These partners include Global Fund for Women (which supports women’s rights), Loveland Foundation (which helps communities of color in different ways), Good+Foundation (which gives donations such as baby food and diapers to families in need), The Keep A Breast Foundation (which gives breast health education to girls and support to women with breast with cancer) and many others.
“As a women’s accessories brand, we’re a catalyst for women to be empowered and feel confident in their own skin. It’s the core identity of our brand and rooted in everything that we do,” the team said. “Part of our business model is to allow our customers to donate for a discount directly from our website, and all of our charity partners are organizations that support women. It allows our customers to be part of our women helping other women cycle of good and giving back.”
Trigère, the brand started in New York by French-born couturière Pauline Trigère in 1942, was one of the first heritage fashion houses to be founded upon the ideals of female empowerment and equity. Known for dressing the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lena Horne, Princess Grace and many other powerful women, the trailblazing female entrepreneur always made sure to keep ethics front of mind. And since her passing in 2002, the design team, now led by Creative Director Franklin Benjamin Elman, has followed her mission.
All Trigère designs are made in a socially responsible supply chain and each piece is made-to-order, due to the team’s belief in promoting slow fashion and embracing timeless, quality Italian craftsmanship.
Courtesy of Trigère.
“Trigère made-to-order is a responsible, sustainable way of producing garments. It means there is zero waste and the environmental impact is minimal,” Elman said. “These aren’t merely values that are important to me now, they have and always will be at the forefront of my personal and professional value system.”
Since late 2018, when the brand relaunched after laying dormant following Pauline Trigère’s passing, the team has been working with celebrity clients and friends of the maison who were eager to wear the label’s designs again. These include Winona Ryder, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Moss. Now, for the first time, Trigère has launched a limited edition made-to-order collection available on their website.
“Trigère is unique because we have a rich and unparalleled legacy of heritage and design, in addition to a longstanding commitment to sustainable practices,” Elman said. “Something cannot truly be luxury if it is harmful to the planet.”
Over the last six years, Modern Citizen has brought women together with elevated, thoughtfully-made designs in soothing colors and relaxed yet flattering silhouettes.
Their customers are people with “full lives” who want to look and feel chic, the team said. “They have an eye for design, but ultimately want their clothes to feel easy.”
At the moment, as the entire world hopes for an end to the pandemic, the Modern Citizen customer is craving a balance of comfort, polish and fun. “She’s enjoying fashion again after a year in loungewear, but she still wants getting dressed to be effortless,” the team said. This customer also believes in maintaining an edited wardrobe by shopping only for select, high-quality staple pieces that can be worn everywhere, in every season.
Courtesy of Modern Citizen.
Apart from creating fairly priced, stunning, minimalistic pieces that align with the modern, working woman’s lifestyle, the brand is following its mission to be diverse, fair and eco-friendly.
“We believe that working toward a more sustainable business is, and should be, a continual journey,” the team said. “Rather than just marketing ourselves as an ethical or sustainable brand, we’re committed to constant progress toward goals that will make our product and operations gentler on the planet, and more positive and inclusive for the people involved at every step of our business—from our factories and partners to our customers.”
Courtesy of Modern Citizen.
They created their newest styles in hopes of bringing their customers joy after a tough year. They also introduced their first capsule of GOTS-certified organic cotton in an effort to move toward a larger sustainable fabric program.
“We’re not perfect, and neither is our industry, but we’re optimistic that as more brands embrace a growth mindset, we’ll be able to see major strides in fashion becoming more sustainable and ethical as a whole,” the team said.
Aranyani’s handbags are a combination of sustainable fashion and fine Indian jewelry.
The brand was founded in 2016 by Haresh Mirpuri, a manufacturing entrepreneur and long-time advocate of fair labor throughout Southwest Asia. After 20 years in garment manufacturing, Haresh saw an opportunity to build a luxury brand that could spread Indian artistry and the message of sustainability to the world, the team said.
The name “Aranyani” means “queen of the forest” or “goddess of vegetation” in Hindi. It came from Mirpuri’s mission to create products that reflect the natural beauty of India.
Courtesy of Aranyani.
Aranyani’s brand philosophy is based on the three principles: service, awareness and inclusivity. “These principles find their roots in the ancient Indian texts, The Vedas,” the team said. “These philosophies inform how Aranyani runs its business, from its focus on environmentalism and sustainability, to its commitment to its workforce, stakeholders, customers, and all involved with the brand.”
The company is committed to reducing waste at every step of production and across all departments, and makes a conscious effort to reduce energy consumption and its carbon footprint. They prioritize fair working conditions and only produce as many of their luxurious pieces as their customers demand.
Each piece, in itself, is a work of art which requires an expert level of craftsmanship. Their Stone Drops collection is embellished with various semi-precious stones, their Kesuda collection features colorful hand-stitched embroidered motifs and their new Fragrant Trails collection uses the ancient Indian technique of 24-karat gold gilding.
A recent trend report by Afterpay proved that underwear was the most purchased wearable item during the pandemic, which is not so surprising, as people have been seeking comfort in their clothes—and in everything, for over a year. That is one of the reasons Y.O.U. Underwear has gained so much recognition as of late.
Founder Sarah Jordan launched the brand in 2016 after traveling to East Africa to do volunteer work as part of the Ugandan Marathon program and realizing that so many women and children there did not have access to something most people in the U.S. and Europe take for granted every day: underwear. Driven by a need to help, Jordan created her brand, which has a buy-one-give-two model, meaning they donate two pairs of underwear for every pair that is purchased, to those in need.
Courtesy of Y.O.U. Underwear.
The comfy panties, boxers, thongs and bralettes are also eco-friendly, as they’re made from soft, organic Fairtrade cotton and other PETA-approved vegan materials free of harmful pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals. Their dyes are low-impact and GOTS certified and their products are packaged in reusable organic cotton bags and shipped in recyclable and biodegradable mailing bags. They are also in the process of becoming a registered B Corp and of developing a take-back scheme, allowing customers to return items to them once they’re done using them, so they can be recycled.
Apart from being focused on comfort and sustainability, the company is also committed to empowering women, protecting garment workers—the majority of which are female—and providing fair working conditions. In order to always celebrate women’s natural beauty, they never edit or airbrush their photos, they cast models 18 to 80 years old and they carry U.K. sizes 8 to 18. They even hide inspiring messages inside their underwear to remind each customer that with their purchase, they made a difference.
Sustainable fashion Instagrammer Barbie Brignoni (@barbiebrignoni), who has over 35,000 followers, recently named Yo Mas’ handmade, sustainable naked dress one of the must-have dresses of the season, and just like that, Joma Segarra’s small Puerto Rican business was tossed into the spotlight it deserves.
Segarra started knitting and crocheting when she was 7 years old, and after becoming a young mother, began to sell her handmade pieces. Seeing her clients’ positive responses to her designs, she launched her own company in 2019.
Courtesy of @barbiebrignoni.
Each product is made from biodegradable or recycled materials, and this year the brand is starting to operate their factory with renewable energy, by using solar panels.
“Our customers are conscious buyers who are aiming to wear good quality and fair trade clothes,” Segarra said. “As a granddaughter of a farmer, I grew up having contact with Earth, planting and eating mangos directly from the trees. This is absolutely part of the identity of the brand.”
Segarra’s statement, gender-neutral pieces allow every one of her customers to feel as comfortable, natural and alive as they do in their own skin.
Pixie Mood was born out of love, and it shows.
Couple Kelvin and Chloe Ho founded the brand in 2010 after realizing that customers who wanted to buy stylish, multifunctional vegan bags did not have many affordable options.
“Pixie Mood products are designed for those who love fashion and appreciate a good multifunctional bag,” the founders said. “We also design our products for those who are conscious of the things that they purchase, the impact it has on the planet, and for those who want to minimize these effects.”
Courtesy of Pixie Mood.
Their bags are made out of 100% vegan and 100% cruelty-free materials, always. One vegan leather they use is actually made from recycled plastic bottles. “We strive to continuously source the most sustainable, innovative and eco-conscious materials that will help minimize our environmental impact,” the pair said.
Chloe, who is the brand’s creative director, said she gets her inspiration for Pixie Mood’s elegant, beachy designs from her travels and from market trends. Right now, she said she’s seeing a return to vintage style, as well as a need for oversized bags—possibly due to the pandemic.
To celebrate Earth Day, the brand will be plant one tree for every item purchased, from April 16 to 22.
Cult Gaia, the brand creating some of the hottest spring dresses, bags and sunglasses, actually started off as a flower crown shop.
While working to get a couture clothing line off the ground, founder Jasmin Larian started making crowns for fun, simply to gift them to friends at parties or birthday celebrations. “The hype around them continued to grow into something that felt almost cult-like,” Larian said. “When a friend convinced me I should turn my crown hobby into a business, Cult Gaia was born in 2012.”
Nine years later, she’s expanded her brand to include apparel, shoes, bags and accessories. Each piece is meant to make a statement, and each is created with nature in mind.
Courtesy of Cult Gaia.
“First and foremost, nature is one of my greatest sources of inspiration,” Larian said. “Our very first accessories were made from bamboo, a sustainable material, which has become a staple and best-seller for us. Admittedly, we, along with the fashion industry, have a long way to go, but we are taking strides to address key facets of the business like fabric and packaging, being completely sustainable where we can be in those areas.”
In honor of Earth Day, Cult Gaia is partnering with Tree People to plant a tree for every order placed the week following April 22. It’s a small step, but one they intend to build on for the days, weeks, months and years to come.
The brand’s customer is “effortless, easygoing and knows luxury without needing to spend a fortune on it,” the founder said. “She’s bold and statement-making and, like the Cult Gaia collection, is constantly evolving.”
“Clinch was founded in 2018 as we wanted to create a belt that was beyond the utilitarian purpose of holding up pants or bringing in dresses—something that could immediately elevate even the simplest outfit,” the team said.
Their intricately designed buckles are the “diamonds” of their belts and can be combined with different straps—just like your favorite jewelry charm.
Ethics and sustainability play a major role in the business, and the company is on its way to becoming a B Corp.
Courtesy of Clinch Belts.
Their buckles are made in a small ethical factory in Bali that provides jobs for the local community, and teaches them the craft of their jewelry process. They also use the maximum amount of recycled metals (30% brass and 100% sterling silver) while upholding the quality of Clinch’s solid brass and solid sterling silver buckles. And, no harsh chemicals are used by the factory, the team said.
Clinch manufactures their belt straps in a small family-run business in Italy using small-batch leather that’s primarily vegetable dyed. And they’re in the process of sampling belt straps from a plant-based leather to soon launch a vegan collection.
“In order to strengthen our community impact, we’ve partnered with i=Change to help fund three different life-changing projects. That way, $1 from every sale is donated to a project that the customer can nominate at checkout,” the team said.
The Clinch woman takes pride in her appearance and values quality craftsmanship, but she is always considerate of her wardrobe and the purchases she makes.