Fashion with Compassion: Sustainable Fashion


I first heard about what I call a small semblance of sustainable fashion back in 1990’s when in school we learned about sweatshops. Hearing children working long hours in poor conditions, I was really effected by this reality. I wasn’t sure how to contribute, but I decided that I won’t support brands that were accused of using sweatshops in their manufacturing process. This is my first memory of what now are wildly encouraged eco-friendly brands or sustainable fashion.

According to Wikipedia, “Sustainable fashion, also called eco fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility”. It came into the public foray in the late 1980s and early 1990s when companies such as Patagonia shed light on impact fashion has on the environment. Today, many designers try or already do incorporate these sustainable practices in their modern merchandize and rather than just creating “hippie clothes”.  Celebrities, models, and designers such as Lucy TammamStella McCartneyIoana Ciolacu Frock Los Angeles, Amour Vert, Edun, Stewart+Brown, Shalom Harlow and Summer Rayne Oakes have recently drawn attention to socially conscious and environmentally friendly fashion. Portland Fashion Week, which has featured sustainable designers and apparel since 2005, has also attracted international press for its efforts to sustainably produce a fashion week that showcases 100% eco-friendly designs

Other sustainable clothing and footwear labels include Elena Garcia, Nancy Dee, By Stamo, Outsider Fashion, Beyond Skin, Oliberté, Hetty Rose, DaRousso and Eva Cassis

Due to the efforts taken to minimize harm in the growth and manufacturing of products and better working conditions, sustainable fashion is typically more expensive than clothing produced by conventional methods. Although it is easier today to shop for these eco-friendly brands, I decided to shed light on this topic by writing a post on some online websites that sell sustainable fashion for not-so-expensive prices. So here goes:

Inaaya: ( Inaaya is a women’s luxury brand that celebrates traditional craft. Using timeless techniques, their design signature is high fashion and minimalistic. The brand offers a range of clothing and accessories with everything from tunics to statement necklaces. Inaaya also pays homage to its roots by ethically employing dozens of artisans in interior Sindh (Pakistan) to manufacture the distinctive embellishments which are an intrinsic part of the brand’s design signature. Conceptualized and created by Naushaba Brohi, the impetus fueling Inaaya is to create sustainable income opportunities for women that build on their skills, value their craft and enable them to contribute to the development of their communities

Indelust: ( Rezwan started building the e-commerce site in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh, with the goal of bringing ethically sourced fashion and home goods from emerging designers on the Indian Subcontinent to a global audience. “It’s not really about this Bollywood, brightly colored, ostentatious fashion culture anymore,” says Rezwan. “There’s an almost Scandinavian feel to this emerging sensibility of using old techniques and applying them in contemporary ways. Every product we curate not only has a positive social impact, but there’s also a level of design that falls under the Indelust aesthetic.” Indelust has been promulgated in Vogue, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Elle, and many more media outlets.

Svilu: ( Founded in 2012 by Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo, SVILU blends the two designers’ sensibilities to offer beautifully made, thoughtfully designed, timeless staples for women that easily withstand the most fickle of fashion trends. Manufactured in the USA, SVILU designs are elegant, while reflecting the brand’s firm commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Designers Britt and Marina use innovative eco-fabrics such as organic cotton that is GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified, as well as tencel, modal and cupro. They also use design practices such as digital fabric printing whenever possible to reduce their brand’s impact on the environment. SVILU does all of this while maintaining the integrity of their stunning designs. Their clothes have a bit of a Bohemian vibe.

Kowtow: ( Their clothes have a minimalistic look through prominent use of monochromatic colors with a splash of color. This brand is a 100% certified fair trade organic cotton brand.

Mina + Olya: ( Creates garments made from majorly high-quality hemp, silk, wool, denim and cotton. Mina Yazdi and Olya Dzilikhova, a pair of San Franciscans became fast friends when they met in 2008 at their financial and communications corporate jobs. They created this brand as a luxury sustainable clothing line focusing on ready to wear collections. Each piece is hand finished, and you can pretty much see the quality oozing out of everything. They offer high-end apparel while being dedicated to minimizing our footprint on the environment and improving corporate social responsibility. Their sustainable line strives to present structure, classic elegance, and simple chic. The apparel is made from sustainable material and all of our products are currently produced in California. The brand uses organic wool, silk, hemp, hemp/silk, Eco-leather, organic cotton and denim. Mina + Olya dedication to environmentally friendly processes and materials and believe there is no need to sacrifice style to remain environmentally conscious.

Amour Vert: ( Amour Vert was founded on the belief that great fashion and social responsibility can coexist. Amour Vert means Green Love in French, but it also means American manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, sustainable fabrics, a zero-waste philosophy, and above all, enduring style. In addition, the company pledges that with every purchase of a T-shirt, they will plant a tree in North America. In fact, they have already planted more than 100,000 trees with their partner, American Forests. Their commitment to making sustainable practices, ethical products and positive environment impact is why they are on our list.

ASOS: ( Their mission of ‘Fashion with Integrity’, epitomizes their approach to business. For ASOS, ‘Fashion with Integrity’ means managing all aspects of business transparently, so that their customers can enjoy their fashion in the knowledge that, when buying products, they are buying from a responsible company that is actively working to minimize the negative effects of the fashion industry on people, animals and the environment.

Here is our list. Through my research, I came across a blog post that lists many more brands hailing sustainable fashion as their ethos. You can read the post here: