Ethical fashion is somewhat like an umbrella term that covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, or animal welfare in relation to a fashion item, its design, production and retail.
Ethical activewear generally refers to clothing designed for workouts or physical exercise, and (depending on the brand) may also be worn in other settings, such as at the workplace, or at other casual or social occasions hence ‘athleisure wear’.
Most ethical fashion brands came into emergence with the increased demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly clothing; a demand mainly associated with women. However, with the growing awareness of environmental conservation and climate change concerns, men have also begun to opt for responsibly made clothes, instead of unethically made ones.
We have covered ethical activewear for women so here’s one for the guys as we know there aren’t as many conscious brands on offer and they definitely need a little help on finding ethical labels that align with their conscious values.
New Zealand-based global apparel brand Kathmandu is on our list of ethical activewear brands because they make some kick-ass outdoor clothing for men. The brand makes a wide range of its men’s activewear (tops, pants, shorts) that are designed for moisture wicking and cooling, so is perfect for any physical activities that really make you sweat.
Kathmandu is committed to investing in ethical and sustainable practices across all facets of the business, from working conditions in its factories, to the materials it uses and its environmental footprints. This brand uses responsibly sourced timber, diverts waste from landfill during construction, and focuses intently on improved recycling methods once its stores are operational.
Also, the company turns waste into products through the Repreve recycled polyester program, and back in its 2016/17 financial year, the retailer reused an impressive 3.9 million plastic bottles by turning them into polyester and using this to produce backpacks, fleece jackets and t-shirts.
Read more: From Life Cycle Impact Assessments to Bio-Based Synthetics, How Kathmandu is Reshaping Outdoor Eco Apparel
Picture organic clothing was founded in 2008 and its products are responsibly made and designed last for long periods of time. This brand made our list because it really is all about ethics and sustainability for this business, and it maintains an impressive degree of transparency all through its supply chain.
For their cotton products, the sustainable brand uses 95% organic cotton and 5% recycled cotton, and for their technical activewear products, Picture uses a minimum of 50% recycled polyester content. They take pains to treat their employees fairly and they also list all of the factories they work with on their website, taking care to visit each factory a few times in a year. Their most popular men’s clothing including technical shirts, jackets, sweaters, surfwear, pants, and shorts.
3. Bruce Apparel
Bruce Apparel is another men’s activewear label that works to ensure that guys have great workout attire that look good and are for the planet as well. The brand prides itself on making stylish activewear for men who love to feel good while being active, and its recycled plastic shorts and t-shirts are appropriate both for the streets or the gym. The shirts are made from a mix of recycled polyester and Tencel (a sustainable fabric regenerated from wood cellulose and produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG; while the polyester is derived from recycled PET water bottles, using less energy than traditional polyester.
Bruce Apparel was created to fill a void in the men’s active lifestyle market so its products are designed for maximum performance and to perform well under extreme training conditions. The brand’s customers are most impressed with the “no stink” factor of their garments which shows that the garments outperform in the ‘breathability’ department.
Thanks to recycled materials, Ecoalf creates sustainable fashion with the same quality, design, and technical properties as the best non-recycled ones. The brand started in 2009 with a view of paving the way for a new generation of fabrics – recycled fabrics. The Madrid-based global brand offers a wide range of activewear ranging from t-shirts through to sneakers. And all these are made completely or partly with recycled plastic. For instance, their khaki swim shorts are made from 100% recycled nylon, so you can float carefree.
Ecoalf has also started many projects to clean up the oceans from plastic. We genuinely admire them from their dedication to using upcycled ocean plastic in their collections.
Thanks to the use of sustainable fabrics including Merino wool and French terry in Olivers iconic athletic wear, your body will be well adapted to whatever climate it is as you move about. This American brand is absolutely smitten with quality and so makes stretchy, water-repellent, all-purpose shorts and tees. It’s fabrics are sourced from villages in Peru and farms in Australia and each product comes in a clean, monochromatic design.
Its Convoy Tee, for one, fits exactly as a t-shirt should. While you can certainly work out in the brand’s naturally odor resistant shirt, the athletic clothing is just appropriate for a day full of errands or a casual date night.
It’s worth mentioning that Olivers promises that your clothes will last for at least a year with its guarantee. The company replaces or repairs any product “with a fault outside of normal wear and tear for up to 12 months” after initial purchase.
Patagonia is a brand which breathes the great outdoors, has strong labour rights and uses recycled polyester, rather than virgin. This brand has been paving the way forward in the ethical fashion space since 1973 and is arguably the world’s leading eco-friendly outdoor apparel company. Their active and outdoor wear is worn across the globe on adventurers climbing mountains, kayakers drifting through streams, yogis on the beach, and for whatever other physical activity you can think of.
This sustainable fashion pioneer uses recycled plastic to create their fleeces, shorts, and jackets. They also have a really cool recycling scheme. If you own one of their clothes, and it can’t be repaired, you can hand it into one of their shops to be recycled and reused. It has also committed to reducing its energy use and emissions. It has an extensive range of wetsuits for men and most incredibly, its wears are perfect for seasonal transitions all year round.
7. Vuori Clothing
Vuori takes its inspiration from the beach and this means that its clothes maintain an easy, laid-back vibe, effortlessly cool without looking sloppy. Based in Encinitas — a San Diego County beach city — the folks behind Vuori know a thing or two about getting outside. Their clothing offers a blend of high-performance attributes (moisture-wicking, quick-drying and anti-odor) with a colorful nonchalance. Its bright pocket tees and board shorts really work for a winter run, a few sun salutations, or a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.
Ultimately, it’s the easy styling of Vuori that ultimately sets the brand apart. While its clothes are meant to sweat in, its banks shorts are made from four to five recycled plastic bottles each to take you from land to sea and beyond. They’re also meant to easily transition into the rest of your life as well.
Ethletic shoes makes super comfy shoes and sneakers from organic cotton and natural rubber. Their sneakers come with a reinforced toe section, a padded tongue and a padded collar for extra comfort. As if this weren’t enough, its antibacterial insole is removable and made with coconut fibers for added absorption.
Ethletic stands for maximum social and environmental responsibility. All the shoes from the brand are vegan and are produced in Pakistan under fair working conditions in line with the company’s commitment to positive development in a region plagued with crisis and violence. Their rubber soles are FSC-certified, sourced responsibly, and the rubber is fairly traded.
Ohmme makes and sells men’s yoga wears. It creates great, stylish men’s yoga apparel with movement in mind. Yoga pants, shorts and tees in sleek designs, with innovative tailoring, the finest technical fabrics, soft waistbands and considered details. All focused on assisting you in your practice.
This brand clearly feels it’s time to break the old stereotype that yoga is for women by encouraging men to practice yoga through the medium of functional, stylish clothing, and its collections are created from created from vegan, eco-friendly, fabrics, produced using a minimal amount of chemicals, water and energy.
Rhone is premium activewear designed for men. Founded in Connecticut, the company spends big on fabric, weaving its duds with SilverTech threading, an antimicrobial fabric initially developed for American military operations in Iraq. Designed for the modern man, Rhone is one of the most versatile activewear brands around. They offer all kinds of tops, bottoms, and accessories that will perform well for your workouts and look great in the street.
Its clothing is also made with its special GoldFusion technology, Rhone’s proprietary, eco-friendly fabric treatment that leverages real gold particles to help fabrics dry up to three times faster. The finished products are amazingly multi-purposed and we hear this model is popular amongst the guys.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the ethical activewear brands there are for men, this curated list has been provided to help get you started on your search for ethical activewear for men. We hope you check them out, and we hope you come right back and let us know what you think.
This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here. This list also includes affiliate links. Click here to read more about our policies.
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Feature image via Vuori Clothing.