Of all the fashion complaints I hear one stands out: “Whatever happened to clothes in natural fibers?”
I hear you. And apparently, many design houses and startups have heard you too. The demand for natural fiber clothing has spawned a burgeoning sector of the fashion industry. Practically every week a new brand pops up.
Aside from the comfort level of natural textiles, the rapid growth of this sector is due to our growing awareness that the fashion industry is responsible for a significant amount of pollution. Clothing production requires enormous amounts of water and uses many toxic dyes and chemicals.
Companies offering alternatives to current manufacturing processes self-categorize as: “conscious”, “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “ethical”, “fair trade,” etc. Now, as far as fashion goes, those labels aren’t terribly sexy sounding (unless you’re a 100% “Natural” style essence.) And frankly a lot of these companies produce some pretty dumpy looking clothes. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
The successful ones adhere to some fashion principles. That means there is some shape to their clothing (even if that shape is geometric or architectural) a more sophisticated color palette, and a willingness to be artistic instead of just utilitarian. So we’re going to look at some that have some fashion cred, are made from natural fibers, and are mostly affordable.
Eileen Fisher was the first to ignite our conscience about natural, sustainable clothing. Affordable? Well, you’re not going to find bargains here unless you shop their sales or at one of their outlets. Still I had to include them. $$-$$$
Everlane remains at the top of my list for newer entrants in the field. Their website shows their actual production costs which explains how many of these companies are able to offer high-quality natural fiber clothing at low to moderate prices. (Clue: there’s no middleman.) Like Eileen Fisher, the style is fairly classic and minimalist with a slightly youthful touch. I haven’t found silk at their quality and price anywhere comparable. $-$$
Grana rivals Everlane both in style and price point. Their cashmere is a steal at the regular price and when on sale is worth buying multiples. They are known for their charmeuse silk camisoles and tees. $-$$
Another newbie is Amour Vert: “For every tee (you buy) we plant a tree.” Like many of these companies, all their clothing is manufactured in limited editions to avoid waste. Almost everything here is either silk, beechwood or organic cotton. Their items are a little more hip and you’ll find Classic, Romantic, Youthful and a bit of High Spirited style here plus prints. $-$$
Speaking of prints, if you like the ethnic/shibui flavor there is an LA design house called Matter. They are artisan-based and work with rural craftspersons in India. Although their offerings are limited, some are quite beautiful and pretty interesting in structure. $-$$
One of my very favorites is KOTN, and guess what all their clothes are made from! Their tees, turtlenecks and henleys are beautifully made and refined looking and some of their dresses are downright sexy! That’s no easy task for all-cotton knit. $
Tradlands is a company that produces women’s staples based on menswear design, so that translates as fairly Classic and Natural shirts in some nice oxford cloth, flannel and denim plus knitwear and slacks. $-$$
True to the name, Indigenous employs about 1000 artisans, mostly from South America, and every piece is hand made. That ratchets up the costs, of course, but at least they offer some interesting designs, like this fine alpaca and silk top. $$-$$$
Raven and Lily has a lot of interesting accessories as well as fashion and they source their items from artisans in Africa, India, Malaysia and Peru. They have a small selection of some interesting, fashionable jackets, tops and dresses. $-$$
Eco Fashion Talk is a website devoted to the entire natural fiber and ecologically conscious fashion industry with regular updates and articles about new designers in the field.
Now, of course you can still find natural textiles in just about any department store, boutique and online. You just have to pay attention to labels and descriptions. But these are some good places to start. And if you have more resources, I’d love to hear from you. I’m always interested in learning of new brands.
Here’s to the ecological you!
[When you see links on my page, occasionally they will be from my affiliates for which I might receive a small commission.]
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