Since many of you expressed an interest in my running list of vendors who meet my personal criteria for taking at least one step toward sustainability, conscious production, and/or caring for their workers, I’m happy to do so today. This list is a work in progress and I’ll do my best to highlight new companies as I find out about them. Here are my own criteria:
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Handmade/homemade/artisan made
- Created using sustainable materials
- Created using fair trade/transparent labor practices
Since items that are made in the U.S. qualify, I’ve done my best to point out which companies only manufacture SOME of their items using domestic U.S. workers. I’ve found that I absolutely have to check item by item, and Amazon is actually a good resource for that:
Scroll down until you see “Product Description.” Under “Origin” you’ll typically see where a product has been made. This screen cap is from a Frye bag, and although Frye touts themselves as a USA-made brand many of their products are made in China. I’ve started using Amazon to vet products that I’ve found on other websites, too. Just pop the product name into the search bar and see if Amazon has it, too. Nordstrom also does a decent job of listing origin. Many other places don’t. I’ve learned that “imported” virtually always means China or India. If a product is made in the U.S. or Spain or Italy, the company wants you to know that and will call it out. If they’d rather you didn’t focus on origin, you’ll see “imported.”
Just about every vendor website has some sort of social responsibility statement, and it can be tough to decipher which ones are genuine and which ones are B.S. Based on what I’ve read and seen in “The True Cost,” my impression is that a statement that merely references adhering to codes and standards can’t be trusted: In many cases, that means factories are warned about inspections, tidy up for the day, and then revert to normal once they’ve passed. That said, a few vendors like ECCO seem to be doing more … but it’s a little hard to say. Please use your own judgment, create your own criteria, and understand that this list is a work in progress and likely includes a few vendors that will eventually be revealed as far less conscious than they claim.
Also, I hope it’s obvious that this is not meant to be a complete list. Not by a long-shot. There will be countless companies, brands, and websites I’m not yet aware of since this is a new practice for me. I welcome your additions in the comments.
I’ve called out shops that offer specialty sizes and done my best to briefly describe what you can expect to find on these websites and from these lines.
ONLINE SHOPS FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABLE FASHION
LISSA the Shop
Committed to supporting the fashion industry’s growing movement towards becoming a more mindful and responsible trade. Stocks brands that combine a unique and timeless aesthetic, who employ sustainable production methods, have quality construction and craftsmanship, and use natural fibers.
Artisan-made, fair trade, and/or philanthropically focused goods only
A curated selection of accessories and objects, highlighting handmade artists from the United States
Stocks trendy products made by female entrepreneurs around the world. The sales of these products provide economic opportunity for over 2000 talented yet marginalized women in over 10 developing countries. Learn more about Fair Anita here.
Fair trade, organic, and made in the U.S. clothing
The company cultivates close relationships with its vendors and seeks products that meet their stringent criteria for responsible sourcing, from organic fibers to environmentally friendly production practices, including minimal packaging. One of the only places I’ve found that stocks sustainable bras and knickers, though most bras are sports or soft-cup.
Made in the U.S.A. Classic clothing designs with an edge, including great dresses and my all-time favorite denim. Plus sizes available.
Many items made from organic cotton. Brightly colored and printed clothing, meant to be layered.
Many items made from organic fibers, and a plan to get to 100% sustainability. Petite and plus sizes available.
Total transparency along the production chain, including deep partnerships with their factories. Minimalist blouses, sweaters, pants, and shoes.
Many garments made from organic materials, many of which are grown in the U.S.A. Known for hoodies and leggings.
Many jeans made in the U.S.A., but some specialty denim made abroad. Mostly jeans, but also some jackets and tops. Petite and plus sizes available.
Alternative Apparel: Some organics and recycled fibers used for tees and tops. In most cases, look for “Eco” in the product name. Great loungewear, tees, sweatshirts, and loose dresses.
All made in the U.S.A. Tunics, dresses, pants, and skirts in stretchy knits. Also find this brand at LISSA the Shop and Evie Lou.
Designed in Canada, produced and managed by a team of 300 women in Chiang Mai, Thailand. NB uses solar power in offices and factories and takes great care of its employees. Also find this brand at LISSA the Shop.
Made in the U.S.A. Comfy, slouchy knits, sweaters, dresses and tunics. One of my closet MVPs is an LAMade tunic.
Using organic cotton and practicing transparency. Sweaters, tees, skirts, shoes, and more most with a pared-down aesthetic.
Hackwith Design House
A Minneapolis-based company making less than 25 of each item sold locally by hand. Minimalist basics, mostly oversized and/or flowy. Plus sizes available.
Made in the U.S.A. Suiting with a twist, asymmetric lines, and luxe layers.
Made in the U.S.A. Frilly, feminine dresses, blouses, coats, and skirts as well as some shoes and bags. Also find this brand at Amazon, 6pm, and Bloomingdale’s. She also does swimwear and home goods, though some are made abroad.
Some items are made in the U.S.A. Trendy but well-made premium denim.
Some items are made in the U.S.A. Printed dresses and blouses and casual tops at low price-points. Plus sizes available.
Imogene + Willie
Made in the U.S.A. Mainly denim, but also tees, bags, and vintage offerings.
Made in the U.S.A. Edgy layering pieces, gorgeous coats, and blouses with eye-catching details.
Made in the U.S.A. Coats, slouchy knits, jeans, and footwear with a cool-girl bent.
Manufactures most of its limited-edition products in its own sustainable sewing factory in Los Angeles. They also help people recycle old clothes. Sexy body-con dresses, floaty blouses, simple sweaters, sassy skirts, and slinky jumpsuits.
Clothing made from organic cotton, eucalyptus, recycled plastic, hemp, or recycled cotton. Solids and simple shapes, mostly knits, skirts, dresses, tops.
Study New York
Carefully monitors every step of their products’ journeys from field to cutting table. Every part of a garment’s process is carefully examined and controlled to be socially and environmentally conscious including dyeing, which is a rarity. Earthy, oversized button-fronts, pants, and dresses.
Works to provide consumers with fashion-forward clothing and accessories options that meet the following criteria: local production, organic textiles, reclaimed materials, fair-trade or zero waste. Loose shapes and earthy colors in dresses, sweaters, blouses, and jeans. Also stocks other brands with sustainable practices like Prairie Underground, Veja Shoes, and Emerson Fry.
Synergy Organic Clothing
Made from organic cotton and other eco-friendly fibers by women in Nepal, low-impact dyes used, solar lighting in warehouses. Yoga clothes, knit jackets, cute layered skirts, and flirty tunic dresses.
Fair trade, organic, and recycled material clothing as well as vegan leather bags and handmade jewelry. Simple organic cotton basics, graphic tees, classic bag shapes, earthy jewelry designs.
Fair trade, ethically made, and recycled fiber clothing, shoes, and accessories. Based in the UK. Super stylish coats, colorful jeans, colorblocked sweaters, badass boots, and tons more.
Fair trade clothing and handmade jewelry, mostly from India. Works with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women. Printed cotton tops and dresses, colorful jewelry.
Etsy for vintage and handmade
Thrift, vintage, and consignment stores for secondhand
eBay for secondhand
Recommendations for ethical lingerie from The Note Passer, suggested by Gracie Lou
Made in the U.S.A. Also at Zappos and Nordstrom. Comfort shoes with an arty flair. Wide and narrow widths available.
Some styles made in U.S.A. Cowboy and motorcycle boots as well as heels, sandals, and flats. Some wide-calf options in tall boots.
All shoes created in ECCO-owned factories which managed based on the lean manufacturing philosophy. Also at Zappos and Nordstrom. Comfortable shoes and boots with rounded toes and heels.
Owned by Elizabeth Olsen! Shoes are made of 100% animal-free and cruelty-free non-animal materials, in sample rooms and factories that are checked for ethical practices and environmental impact. Quirky sandals, heels, and boots many with color-blocked designs.
Shoes are produced by men and women who are also paid fair and livable wages. Currently, they employ around 60 artisans in Peru who create their shoes and slippers. Also at Anthropologie. Beautifully minimalist oxfords and ankle boots.
Vintage Shoe Company
Some styles made in U.S.A. Also at Nordstrom. Rugged moto boots and oxfords.
Mostly made in Italy. Wood platform sandals and heels, tall and ankle boots, wedges, and mules in chunky but classic shapes.
Rag + Bone
Some styles made in Italy. Also at Nordstrom and Amazon. Modern ankle boots with thoughtful details, plus a few sneakers and sandals.
Every single pair of Oliberté shoes is made at the company’s factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In September 2013, they also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory. Oxfords and lace-up wedges.
Designed in New York, made in Spain with locally sourced materials. Also at Shopbop. Wood-sole and chunky heel boots, ankle boots, and sandals in sleek shapes.
Some styles made in the U.S.A. Chunky mules, fringe boots, and platform sandals.
Transparent labor policies and shoes handmade in Peru from locally sourced materials. Oxfords, smoking slippers, and sandals in simple, sleek shapes and dusty colors.
Handmade in Los Angeles. Also at Need Supply. Gamine flats, clogs, and block heels.
Handmade in Spain. Espadrilles and wedges.
Created from quality artisan, organic, recycled and cruelty free components. Factories are monitored and vetted. Chunky sandals and ankle boots.
Made in Italy. A mix of stilettos, badass boots, and quirky sandals.
Made in Spain. Also at Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom. High-fashion heels and boots, including iconic over-the-knees. Wide and narrow widths available.
Made in Spain. Also at Planet Shoes and Online Shoes. Chunky sandals, round-toe flats, and color-blocked designs.
Hires high potential women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money, and ource ethically made products from East Africa. Ribbon sandals, suede chukkas, and loafers as well as simple leather bags, scarves, and jewelry.
Handmade in Bali using fair trade practices. Also on Etsy. Cutout heels, ankle and tall boots, wedges, and sandals in gorgeous colors.
Honestly, I am looking to Etsy and Novica for bags, scarves, jewelry, and just about every kind of accessory imaginable. A couple of folks have recommended Starfish Project, but I’m yet to check them out. Belts I will still thrift, but the rest I’m going handmade. If anyone has accessory vendors to share, please do.
Life + Style + Justice’s list of approved vendors
The local Twin Cities blog The American Edit
Eco Salon’s approved list (from 2012, so some are obsolete)
If you found this list helpful, please share and pin it. And by all means, add your own favorite brands, sites, and designers in the comments.
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.