Vendors and Brands with Sustainable, Conscious, or Worker-focused Practices

ethical shopping

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.
  • Secondhand/used
  • 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:

amazon product description

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.

Accompany
Artisan-made, fair trade, and/or philanthropically focused goods only

Moorea Seal
A curated selection of accessories and objects, highlighting handmade artists from the United States

Fair Anita
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 Indigo
Fair trade, organic, and made in the U.S. clothing

Rodale’s
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.

CLOTHES

Karen Kane
Made in the U.S.A. Classic clothing designs with an edge, including great dresses and my all-time favorite denim. Plus sizes available.

Gudrun Sjödén
Many items made from organic cotton. Brightly colored and printed clothing, meant to be layered.

Eileen Fisher
Many items made from organic fibers, and a plan to get to 100% sustainability. Petite and plus sizes available.

Everlane
Total transparency along the production chain, including deep partnerships with their factories. Minimalist blouses, sweaters, pants, and shoes.

Prairie Underground
Many garments made from organic materials, many of which are grown in the U.S.A. Known for hoodies and leggings.

NYDJ
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.

Comfy USA
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.

Neon Buddha
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.

LAMade
Made in the U.S.A. Comfy, slouchy knits, sweaters, dresses and tunics. One of my closet MVPs is an LAMade tunic.

Zady
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.

Bailey 44
Made in the U.S.A. Suiting with a twist, asymmetric lines, and luxe layers.

Nanette Lepore
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.

J Brand
Some items are made in the U.S.A. Trendy but well-made premium denim.

Star Vixen
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.

Heidi Merrick
Made in the U.S.A. Edgy layering pieces, gorgeous coats, and blouses with eye-catching details.

Emerson Fry
Made in the U.S.A. Coats, slouchy knits, jeans, and footwear with a cool-girl bent.

Reformation
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.

Groceries Apparel
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.

Kaight
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.

Modavanti
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.

Fashion-Conscious
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.

Mata Traders
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

SHOES

Munro
Made in the U.S.A. Also at Zappos and Nordstrom. Comfort shoes with an arty flair. Wide and narrow widths available.

Frye
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.

ECCO
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.

Olsenhaus
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.

Ariana Bohling
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.

Cordani
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.

Oliberté
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.

Coclico
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.

Sbicca
Some styles made in the U.S.A. Chunky mules, fringe boots, and platform sandals.

Nisolo
Transparent labor policies and shoes handmade in Peru from locally sourced materials. Oxfords, smoking slippers, and sandals in simple, sleek shapes and dusty colors.

The Palatines
Handmade in Los Angeles. Also at Need Supply. Gamine flats, clogs, and block heels.

Pons
Handmade in Spain. Espadrilles and wedges.

Bhava
Created from quality artisan, organic, recycled and cruelty free components. Factories are monitored and vetted. Chunky sandals and ankle boots.

Nara Shoes
Made in Italy. A mix of stilettos, badass boots, and quirky sandals.

Stuart Weitzman
Made in Spain. Also at Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom. High-fashion heels and boots, including iconic over-the-knees. Wide and narrow widths available.

Wonders
Made in Spain. Also at Planet Shoes and Online Shoes. Chunky sandals, round-toe flats, and color-blocked designs.

Sseko
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.

Bali ELF
Handmade in Bali using fair trade practices. Also on Etsy. Cutout heels, ankle and tall boots, wedges, and sandals in gorgeous colors.

ACCESSORIES

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.

ALSO SEE

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.

Originally posted 2015-10-05 06:22:53.

Next Post
Previous Post

21 Responses to “Vendors and Brands with Sustainable, Conscious, or Worker-focused Practices”

  1. Sewing Faille

    Thanks for this! And thanks especially for noting which brands appear in brick-and-mortar stores– I never buy clothing off the Internet because of the difficulty in trying things on to make sure they fit right.

  2. Ginger

    How do you define “handmade” as your criteria? Really just curious, considering the discussion in the last week or two. 🙂

    • Sally McGraw

      Great question! So based on that discussion, I’ve started to look deeper into descriptions to make sure that “handmade” items are described as being created by individual artisans or small groups. The vast majority of items listed on Etsy, for instance, are called handmade but many vendors will include a blurb in the store description explaining if they make everything themselves in-studio or work with a group of artisans. If it’s unclear, I ask when possible or if it seems like something that’s being labelled as “handmade” for technical reasons even if production is in a factory setting, I’ll look for another alternative. Not perfect, and I’m sure I’ll get snowed on occasion, but glad the differentiation was brought up.

      I know the word “homemade” was suggested as an alternative, but in the context of a blog I think many people might think I’m saying I made it myself or be otherwise confused/distracted.

      I may end up duplicating this post to a static page to make it easier to find and would include some of these details there for clarity. Thanks for asking, Ginger!

  3. Abby Murrish

    Noonday is among my favorites for accessories! I just got my first bracelet from them and am looking forward to ordering more!

  4. Gisele

    Sally, what a service this is. Thank you for your commitment to this effort.

  5. Catherine Harper

    So happy to see this, Sally! I’ve been really frustrated when looking at catalogs. Often, an item will be listed as “Imported” on the site and “Made in the USA” in the catalog, or vice versa. This happens a lot with Anthropologie and I have emailed them many times for clarification, but never received a satisfactory response. I try to buy from brands that I know to be responsible and ethical.

    Also, Alabama Chanin is a great designer utilizing slow fashion in her hometown. Her company even grows cotton. Tonle is a zero-waste company run by an American designer in Cambodia, and Passion Lilie clothing is designed by an American designer and made by a women’s collective in India.

  6. Rita Ramstad

    Thank you so much for posting this. Saw The True Cost this summer and I’ve been committed to changing my shopping since. It’s hard! This will make it easier. I highly recommend ThredUp, for consignment clothing. Tons of selection, great quality, great site, and easy returns. And their packaging is cute. Sounds trivial, but makes it fun and feel not-secondhand.

  7. calikancab

    I’m definitely sharing this. There are way more options than I would have thought.

  8. Keilexandra

    I haven’t bought any yet, but I love Jon Wye’s leather belts made in Washington, DC. They come in custom sizing and I’m especially excited by the storyline belts.

  9. Renee Dittrich

    Thank you for this post, and your blog! I really enjoy your posts and have been been reading for about a year now.
    As a “handmade” artist, I make all my jewelry myself, by hand in my small at home studio. I reclaim vintage tins and all my pieces are at least 85% recycled material. My etsy shop is Nostalgic Summer. Link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/NostalgicSummer
    My jewelry is also available in a few shops in the Minneapolis area.

  10. Erinn Gilson

    I don’t usually comment, but this topic is so important. I’m really happy to see it being discussed and helpful resources like this list being compiled!

    I can add to it with some additional recommendations (some of which I think have been mentioned on this blog before!):

    Clothing –

    Sweet Skins (handmade in US, sustainable fabrics, women-owned business)
    Ureshii (also on Etsy) (handmade in Canada, women-owned business)
    Imogene and Willie (handmade in US)
    Amour Vert (made in the US)
    Blue Canoe (made in the US, sustainable fabrics)
    Maggie’s Organics (great for socks!) (sustainable fabrics, fair trade)
    Karina (made in the US, woman-owned business)
    Everlane (supply chain transparency)
    Nau (sustainable fabrics, fair trade)
    People Tree (fair trade)
    Curator (made in the US)
    Prana (supply chain transparency, some sustainable fabrics, some fair trade items)
    Patagonia (supply chain transparency, some sustainable fabrics)

    Athletic wear –
    Hyde Yoga (made in the US, sustainable fabrics)
    Stonewear Designs (made in the US, women-run business)

    Underwear –
    Blue Canoe (made in the US, sustainable fabrics)
    Brook There (handmade in the US, sustainable fabrics)
    On the Inside, on Etsy (handmade in the US, sustainable fabrics)
    good & fair (fair trade, sustainable fabrics)

    Shoes (all vegetarian and with some level of commitment to supply chain transparency/fair trade) –
    Bourgeois Boheme
    Cri de Coeur
    Novacas
    Neuaura

    This report is also a helpful and detailed resource for information on brands and companies:
    http://www.free2work.org/trends/apparel/Apparel-Industry-Trends-2012.pdf

  11. Reilly

    Super grateful for this post — thanks Sally!
    I think it would be really cool if you could do a few “spotlight” posts on a particular brand – how you styled a piece you own or how pieces could be styled.

    Thought I would share some of my favorite Etsy sellers for hand-dyed, handmade clothing: consciousclothing, BlueRidgeStitches, and gaiaconceptions. They’re a little more “earthy”, which suits me — I’m pretty minimalist, but not in a cool, edgy way! 🙂

  12. storiteller

    This is great! The biggest challenge for me is finding clothes that are work-appropriate because I work in a fairly conservative, just-below-a-suit kind of office and so many of these companies appear to specialize in tunics and yoga pants. But I love Fair Indigo – they actually carry shirts and dresses that I can wear to work. Just clicking through a couple of other suggestions, I’ve already found some tops I’m going to put on my Christmas list!

  13. Linn

    Great, helpful list! Definitely bookmark worthy 🙂

    How about American Giant for clothing? I have some of their tees and sweats and they wear like iron.