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With so much focus on minimalist styling and wardrobe basics in the world of sustainable fashion, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the industry only offers up monochromatic pieces, timeless classics and beige, beige, and more beige.
Thankfully, there are more and more brands catering to those who love colour and prints (as we do). If your style is more maximalist than minimalist, or you just enjoy weaving in pops of colour and wild prints into your day-to-day outfits, here are the conscious brands we recommend you check out:
This Australian clothing brand ethically produces all its vibrant pieces in Ghana, West Africa from 100% locally sourced West African prints and is constructed by local artisans, all of whom are women. This social enterprise is on a mission to economically empower the team through fair and sustainable employment – via bright patterns, bold colour and eye-catching printed ethical fashion!
Byron Bay-based cult boho label Spell is known for its bohemian-glam designs and travel inspired pieces, but what many people don’t know is that the brand has been implementing ethical standards and sustainability practices within its supply chain for more than five years. While it doesn’t overtly market itself as a sustainable fashion label, it is. From the ‘Good’ rating it received from the Good On You app, to the many talks its co-founder Elizabeth Abegg gives at fashion events explaining the brand’s long journey into sustainability to the detailed sustainability reports the brand publishes on its site, Spell is the real green fashion deal.
For bold, bright and flattering ethically-made activewear, you can’t go past Girlfriend Collective. The brand produces activewear out of recycled materials in Vietnamese factories that uphold high labour standards. A BIPOC-founded label based in Seattle, Girlfriend has been pushing the diversity and inclusivity discussion in fashion ever since it launched, producing size-inclusive styles for petite women right through to “plus” sizes. Its remarkable branding showcases these values through and through, where models from a range of ethnicities, backgrounds, ages, shapes and bodies are reflected in its marketing. This is a company that truly walks the diversity talk.
4. Ace & Jig
Founded in 2009, this Brooklyn/New York/Portland/Oregon size-inclusive ethical brand (XXS-2X) led by dynamic duo Mary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson is known for its textile-led effortless womenswear. Its unique textile designs (all based on cotton) and garments are ethically produced in India, each Ace & Jig collection is exciting and just a little quirky. From bold jumpsuits to overalls, striped tunics to maxi dresses, there’s a style to suit all women’s shapes and sizes. Make a cup of tea before you browse because you’ll need it as working out which design, colour and print works best with your colouring, personality and wardrobe is going to be tough – they’re all lust-worthy!
The label that put the sexy in sustainable fashion, Reformation, based in Los Angeles, produces modern, feminine styles for modern women and has one of the best tag lines in the business: “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. Reformation is #2.” Launched in 2009 with a focus on mindful and local manufacturing, Reformation was one of the first lots of eco-conscious brands that were successful in marrying sustainability and fashion, without losing its LA cool girl vibe. This is the brand for head-turning party frocks, romantic engagement party dresses and wedding outfits, and if you’re generally just looking to wow people at whatever event you attend.
Mayamiko produces limited edition contemporary women’s fashion in beautiful locally-sourced and woven fabrics, some of which are organic and all of which are crafted using traditional African techniques. All Mayamiko collections are designed between London, Milan and Lilongwe, and ethically sewn in Malawi, in East Africa. The business employs and trains disadvantaged members of the communities using the opportunity of earning a sustainable livelihood as a means to economic empowerment. This social enterprise has also received a ‘Great’ environmental rating from Good on You which means it’s as eco-conscious as it is socially-conscious.
For outfits featuring distinctive textile prints and patterns, Matter is your conscious brand. This Singapore-based apparel company honours culture and heritage, specialising in clothing made from traditional textiles and woven fabrics from generational artisans and textile craftspeople in India. Some of the designs in the Matter collections are not run of the mill; this is a brand that truly embraces a global view of apparel and thus incorporates styles such as the hijab and dhoti sarong style pant. The go-to brand for the style-conscious jetsetter, make sure to check out EWP editor Jennifer Nini’s rave reviews of Matter here.
This Sydney-based not-for-profit ethical fashion label is also a social enterprise that supports and empowers refugees and migrants through education and training in fashion design, manufacturing, retail, and marketing as well as through employment. All collections are limited edition as much of the fabric is donated by industry partners to avoid textile waste going to Australian landfill; and the fabrics are as diverse as the people working within the organisation.
All pieces are made in Australia, in The Social Outfit shop and workroom located in Newtown. Profits from clothing sales – online and in-store – are put back into the enterprise to ensure it achieves its mission of empowering new migrants and refugees in the local community.
Women’s fashion label TAMGA Designs was born after the founders, working for the United Nations and other NGOs, witnessed the impacts of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inspired by travel, textiles and colour, the brand’s free-flowing feminine silhouettes and boho styles are ideal for the free-spirit and modern earth lover. The collections are all responsibly produced and feature earth-friendly materials including Tencel and organic cotton. TAMGA also gives back by actively donating to 1% for the Planet.
For ethical clothing that combines bold prints with the economic empowerment of women artisans in developing countries such as India, Symbology is the brand; its collection of printed tunics, wrap dresses, caftans and loungewear are modern, figure-flattering and ideal for creatives and conscious fashionistas alike.
The brand’s collections features eco-friendly and natural fibres, heritage and traditional fabric techniques such as block printing and embroidery and all activities in the supply chain meets Fair Trade guidelines so that each artisan is paid a living wage and provided with good working conditions.
This Australian circular fashion brand produces 100% Egyptian cotton socks and underwear in fun designs and bold prints for the entire family. All garments are responsibly made in Egypt. Manrags offers two unique value propositions as a sustainable brand: its sock subscription that enables people to place an order and ‘set and forget’ ensuring they never ever run out of socks and undies; and its sock recycling initiative that allows customers to donate unwanted and uneven socks to the brand for recycling (Australian customers will need to purchase a compostable satchel first and then send the brand old socks equivalent to 10 pairs or 20 single/odd socks).
Disclosure: Prices and details are correct at time of publishing. 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. Click here to read more about our policies. Cover image of Yevu Midi Wrap Dress (Autumn).