When I published the first instalment of Where to Find Plus Size Ethical Fashion & Sustainable Clothing (you can read part one here) I never expected to receive such wonderful feedback from the community. That people felt we handled the plus size subject with the sensitivity and care it deserves warms my heart.
Now I promised to provide you a list of the ethical fashion brands offering stylish plus size fashion for women. One important thing to note is that during the course of my research, it was extremely difficult to find ethically-produced plus size brands that used eco-friendly materials so please take this into consideration when reviewing this ‘ethical plus size’ list. Given my environmental values, I recommend you choose garments made from natural fabrics where possible.
With that said, here are the women’s stylish ethical plus-size brands that you need to know about…
Since 2002, Rachel Pally has been ethically producing timeless contemporary clothing for modern women of all shapes and sizes. Manufactured in the USA, the fabric used for the collections is milled in Los Angeles and the garments are cut and sewn nearby.
Whilst not entirely a plus-size brand, Rachel Pally does produce a fashionable plus-size range for curvy woman that includes printed dresses, LBD’s, tops, leggings, jumpsuits and kaftans. The brand focusses on helping women feel beautiful and comfortable whilst going about their daily lives.
Rachel Pally truly believes in buying (and making!) fewer, better, more conscientiously manufactured items that will last a lifetime.” – Rachel Pally website.
Harlow is a women’s plus size ethical label founded by husband and wife team Kerry and Angelo Pietrobon. Designed and ethically made in Melbourne, Australia, the brand caters to women sizes 12 to 26 and is known for its simple tailoring, subtle sexuality and classic cuts. The garments are designed with versatility in mind so that wearers get maximum use of the clothing. Harlow aim to be sustainable by producing smaller collections to keep waste to a minimum.
Co-founder Kerry Pietrobon likes the eco-friendliness of capsule wardrobes and believes that making limited edition quantities increases each garment’s value, making each design more sought after and the wearer more appreciative of what they’ve purchased. “We design our pieces with a minimum of two ways to wear in mind, but often more,” says Kerry. “When we plan a photoshoot we aim to visually show how a piece can go from desk, to dinner, to weekend wear and beyond. In doing so we aim to show that the cost per wear on investment pieces is usually far less than those disposable pieces bought on a whim.”
Harlow doesn’t go by the “one season and it’s out” principle; they design, fit and manufacture pieces that will be on high rotation in your wardrobe for years to come.
The brainchild of Fashion Institute of Technology graduate Ayanna Wu Celestin, Mei Smith is a plus size luxury label offering classic, minimalist pieces. The brand was born of frustration – Ayanna found a lack of stylish options in the plus size fashion industry and decided to launch a designer brand that embraced size diversity and style.
Catering to style-conscious curvy women sizes 12 to 20, the collections are entirely made in the USA. The brand is so appealing in fact it has been featured in Vogue, Refinery 29 and Racked.
Launched in 2015 by founder and award-winning designer Harvest Powell, Hope & Harvest takes a modern and innovative approach to curvy fashion, offering clever cuts and fresh designs sizes 12 to 26, that appeal to the style-conscious urban-dwelling plus size woman. Named one of the top plus size labels in the world by Madison Plus N.Y.C and Essence Magazine, the brand has also dressed celebrities such as Rebel Wilson and Australian singer Casey Donovan.
Accolades aside, this plus size label also touts remarkable ethical credentials, placing the well-being of its workers high on its priorities list. Hope & Harvest set high standards in ethical manufacturing, fair wages and treatment of its workers. All patterning, grading, sampling, fit and sizing is done in Australia under Fair Work laws, and from time to time the brand uses small off-shore family-run garment factories that abide by ethical business practices and fair trade agreements.
This plus-size clothing brand is turning heads for all the right reasons. Creating high-quality yet affordable minimalist clothing for women who wear sizes 10 through to 28, Universal Standard is aiming to set a new retail standard – offering curvy women upmarket classic and chic essentials that they’ll look and feel good in.
The brand ticks many of the relevant boxes: branding, styling, photo shoots and product offering. However the website doesn’t make clear where items are made so when the chat pop-up box appeared on the bottom right hand corner, I shot the brand an email asking about the supply chain. Within two hours, I received this email reply:
Hi Jennifer –
Thanks for asking!
Our clothes and fabrics are made in the USA, France, Peru, & China. Our founders have personally vetted all the factories we work with to ensure that they meet and surpass all ethical standards of manufacturing and production.
Please let US know if you have any other questions for US!
Have a great day,
I’ll take their word for it. For now. However I would prefer to see mention of this on the Universal Standard website. If nothing to hide, then why not be transparent and clearly communicate this to customers? So I replied to Monica’s email with this suggestion. I really hope they implement my feedback.
Now it is here I should also point out the brand’s social conscience. It will donate all of its returned clothing to charities supporting women in need. This deserves a round of applause.
This high-end luxe plus-size fashion label was established in 2006 by one of Australia’s first plus-size fashion editorial models Natalie Wakeling. Frustrated with the lack of stylish denim options for women of larger proportions and seeing a gap in the plus size industry, Natalie crafted the first designer range to fit and flatter curvy women. The success of her denim collections enabled her brand to expand its range to include classic on-trend fashion pieces focussing on feminine silhouettes and modern glamour.
To this day, Embody Denim remains 100% Australian-made and owned. They also score points for using plus size model and environmental activist Laura Wells in their photo shoots. I adore her.
Since 2006, SWAK ‘Sealed With a Kiss’ Designs’ garments have been ethically manufacturing plus size fashion in the USA; designed, cut and sewn by hand in Los Angeles, California. The brand is known for producing trendy and affordable plus-size fashion for curvy women sizes 14 to 36 (they use the size system 1X to 6X).
With a wide range of prints, styles and colours, this ethical plus size clothing label “designed by plus size women for plus size women” offers clothing with a youthful energy to suit all occasions, tastes, preferences and budgets. Need a new outfit for work or a cute ensemble for a first date? You’re sure to find it at SWAK Designs.
Founded plus-size model and “body positive” advocate Amber Gwynn, Nyata is an ethical fashion label designed in Melbourne, Australia and manufactured in Bali, Indonesia. The brand caters to women sizes 8 to 30 and is known for its fashion-forward prints, bohemian aesthetic and flattering silhouettes. The brand promotes equality in fashion, encouraging women to feel sexy and confident in their own skin, regardless of size, shape or age.
Although the brand uses fabric such as rayon (which in terms of eco-friendliness falls somewhere at the lower to middle end of the sustainability scale) the brand is a strong advocate for ethical manufacturing, ensuring that everybody in its supply chain is paid fairly and treated well. Nyata is also transparent; open to sharing its production processes with its customers.
We have a strong and positive working relationship with our manufacturers who we visit a couple of times per year to ensure the work conditions are always positive and that our staff continue to work in positive working conditions. – Nyata
The brand also strives to reduce waste and its overall environmental impact. Everything in the factory that can be reused is, and cuttings are donated to local orphanages instead of thrown away. Printing and prewashing of fabrics are done by hand, and garments are sun dried. No industrial machines are required used in these processes.
If you’re after second-hand plus-size fashion…
Founded earlier in the year, CurvyCo is the first website of its kind in the world. It’s an ecommerce platform and community marketplace specifically for women sizes 10 and up who wish to buy and sell their curvy and plus-size clothing. While retail brands also sell their products on the platform, the best thing about the site is the ability to purchase preloved plus size fashion for a fraction of the cost of buying it new. Affordable and eco-friendly? Bookmark this website pronto.
The site is easy to navigate too. Just select your size and view the used clothes on offer. Or browse by category. To make a purchase, you just click the Buy Now button and you will then be sent a link to checkout via PayPal. Simple. Straightforward.
If you want to be part of a community that promotes body positivity and allows you to sell and buy used plus size clothing, visit www.curvyco.com