Five mainstream fashion brands you didn’t know were ethical.
It is our dream for the term ‘ethical fashion’ to cease to exist. Excuse me?! That’s right: ethical fashion should be fashion. No ‘ethical’ needed. Treating workers with respect and protecting our environment should be a non-negotiable.
It is our dream for the term ‘ethical fashion’ to cease to exist.
That’s right: ethical fashion should be fashion. No ‘ethical’ needed. Treating workers with respect and protecting our environment should be a non-negotiable.
Although that’s a big ask for a fashion industry currently entangled in profit driven, complex systems, there’s more hope than you think. The debate remains whether a company is ethical and sustainable if they produce items at a rate that supports impulse buys and new seasons every week, but these five fast fashion brands below will surprise you with their drive for a business model that supports our dream.
As mindful consumers, we search high and low for ethical fashion brands that tick our style boxes. Shameless plug time: with our extensive global ethical brand directory, we make supporting ethical fashion brands who are using business as a force for good, easy.
But, here you have it: five mainstream fashion brands you didn’t know actually gave a s*^t about people and the planet:
Listing the second largest activewear brand on the planet may make you raise your eyebrows. Truthfully, Adidas is several steps ahead of other mainstream sportswear brands; this company is leading the pack as industry change makers. Adidas has committed to using less water, reducing carbon emissions, and empowering the people in their supply chains at every step.
One of their largest innovations is their partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which began in 2015. They’ve teamed up to raise awareness of the effect plastic is having on our ocean ecosystems. Together, Adidas and Parley remove plastic from the ocean, and use pioneering technology to create high-performance activewear and footwear.
You’ll probably know Spell as the most luxurious bohemian brand on the planet, but you may be surprised to discover their mission statement: “Our vision is to inspire, beautifully – in harmony with people and planet.”
Spell is committed to supply chain transparency, social advocacy, using sustainable fibres, using environmentally-friendly dyeing and printing processes, minimising their environmental footprint, working towards a circular fashion system, and giving back, and in 2019, were the recipients of the Banksia Sustainability Award in the small business category.
It’s not often you find true transparency within an internationally known brand, but Spell state factory details on their website. They also go into detail about the natural fabrics and textiles they use, including organic cotton, recycled nylon, viscose, rayon, and TENCEL. As a favoured brand for most bohemian babes, you’ll be excited to know you can shop at Spell with a happy (and clean) conscience.
“At Patagonia, we appreciate that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. We aim to use the resources we have—our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations—to do something about it.“
From the very beginning, Patagonia has gone the extra mile when it comes to giving back, and the team has always made sure their own way of business and production is sustainable. For more than 30 years, Patagonia has donated 1% of sales to charities, and helped to resurrect the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in 2010. On top of their extreme corporate social responsibility efforts, Patagonia are B Corp certified (one of the first registered in California), as well as the developers of the world’s first Fair Trade wetsuits. It’s no surprise Patagonia’s commonly used as an example of a business who does things unconventionally for the good of people and the planet.
Unlike others, Patagonia take responsibility for the entire life cycle of every single garment they produce, believing it’s their obligation to keep it alive or dispose of it responsibly. Their Worn Wear program encourages customers to send back their items to be repaired when needed, or sold as second-hand garments. Keeping in line with their sustainable commitments, Patagonia aims to be carbon neutral by 2025, 83% of their line is Fair Trade Certified sewn, 68% of their garments use recycled materials, 100% of the cotton Patagonia grows for their clothes is done so organically, and they’re also championing the utilisation of Regenerative Agriculture in the fashion industry. Don’t know about you, but Patagonia is the kind of brand we want to purchase from.
Veterans of the denim industry, Levi’s have been quietly working away as a sustainable brand for decades. “Sustainability is sewn into the fabric of everything we do — from how our clothing is made to the work we do to help protect our planet.” Not only did they invent the blue jean, Levi’s made the first blue jeans especially for women. Levi’s are basically the gods of denim.
Levi’s do everything with employees, apparel workers, and consumers in mind. They are dedicated to making products that will last a lifetime, and we all know from personal experience that this is true. Levi’s are part of the Better Cotton Initiative, and focus on reduction in water consumption through their Water<Less program. As well as water, Levi’s are aware of the growing effects of climate change, and use their voice to advocate for change and reduce their climate impact.
Let’s be honest, everyone has a Levi’s in their wardrobe. Whether it be an upcycled vintage skirt or a staple pair of jeans, this epic brand has managed to infiltrate most wardrobes (which is a good thing in our books).
Behind this dreamy, bohemian brand, is the mission of treading lightly on our beautiful planet. Arnhem focus on three key values: people, planet, and giving back.
People: Arnhem knows the importance of transparency and ethical production, which is why they not only made their Code of Conduct available to consumers, but also physically visit each operation and keep the relationship with their workers strong. People are the fabric of Arnhem’s business, and they’re dedicated to fair workplace conditions now and in the future.
Planet: Arnhem ensures their materials are inherently sustainable. Their ECOVERO, Lyocell and Modal fabrics are all “sourced from certified and renewable raw wood material derived from sustainably managed forests”, their cotton, linen and hemp are toxin-free and are “farmed in a way that conserves precious resources, improves soil health and preserves biodiversity”, and they utilise high-quality recycled fabrics like ECONYL and recycled nylon waste to keep these otherwise discarded materials in use.
Giving back: Arnhem does inherent good with their profits, which is why they give back to organisations and charities including GreenFleet, Take 3, Rainforest Rescue, Sea Shepherd, and Great Koala National Park.
These mainstream ethical fashion brands are leading the charge when it comes to larger fashion companies implementing sustainable practices, and if you’re going to buy mainstream, we’d recommend these fab five. In saying this, it’s also important to support small ethical businesses who are doing good also, and with our global ethical brand directory, we’re making this easy.