Threads 4 Thought’s sustainability report states that the fashion industry:
- Consumes over 2,800,000,000,000 cubic feet of water
- Produces over 184,000,000,000 pounds of solid waste
- Uses over 2,940,000,000 gallons of crude oil
Here are nine diverse and beautiful clothing brands that live, eat, and breathe sustainability for your closet and for mother earth.
This avant-garde fashion house has legendary status. Dressing countless celebrities in haute couture and constantly pushing the boundaries of the typical fashion world has always been at the forefront of the McQueen ethos. It’s no surprise that the brand is turning to upcycling to bring sustainability in fashion to a couture level. Vogue reports that McQueen has been donating unused fabrics and materials to fashion design students across the globe for years. The fashion house debuted a twist on its iconic silhouettes in 2020. Under the watchful eye of its creative director Sarah Burton, notable styles from 2016, 2018, and 2019 were remade with the leftover fabrics from those collections – proving that even the highest of fashion can come back down to Earth.
Adidas has come a long way in its sustainable business practices. The brand has been famously criticized for supporting “sweatshop” manufacturing, but it has made significant strides in the realms of ethics and sustainability. In June 2017 the brand was recognized for supporting freedom of association and signing the Bangladesh Fire and Safety accord to protect workers. They have also been praised for their Fashion Transparency Index Score ranging from 61% to 70%. Their standout product for sustainability is their Ultraboost Trainers. In partnership with Parley for the Oceans, each pair is made entirely of recycled materials plucked straight from the ocean. Progress and forward-thinking are just the beginning for this established elite sports brand.
Kate Spade has worked her way into the hearts of fashionistas everywhere with her whimsical prints and high-quality style. The Spade empire was built on fun and quality. The brand is paying special attention to the country of Rwanda. Their campaign “From Rwanda with Love” aims to help women in the African nation progress. Since the inception of their initiative, they have employed over 230 women. They aim to empower Rwandan women to challenge typical gender roles that typically cater to men making family decisions, owning land, and running businesses. Currently, over 92% of the workforce is women and the Kate Spade brand is working to make them more powerful than ever. Sustainability can be more than just recycling. Improving fashion supply chains through proper business practices and inclusion makes a broad impact.
Chanel has long been viewed as the pinnacle of luxury. The iconic creator of the little black dress is going 100 percent electric by 2025. Their initiative revolves around four goals:
- Reduce carbon emissions across the entire operation
- Shift to 100% renewable electricity to power equipment by 2025
- Help finance climate change adaptation by working with communities impacted by climate change
- Offset residual carbon emissions
This move can set the precedent that even the most high-end couture brands can contribute to the sustainability efforts of our world. Coco would be proud!
Arguably the most iconic handbag-forward brand of all time, Louis Vuitton has spent some time in sustainability jail. Notably, rumors in the fashion industry were stirred to the surface when Burberry was outed for burning millions of dollars in goods to protect their brand reputation. Louis Vuitton has been cited as a brand that may have done this in the past. They have since changed their ways, much like Adidas, pledging to protect biodiversity around the world through sourcing materials responsibly and encouraging the preservation of wildlife.
They have committed to:
- Using 100% responsibly sourced materials by 2025
- Using 0% single-use plastic by 2030.
It may seem like a long haul for this iconic brand, but their transparency and commitment to improving their manufacturing will set a standard for brands of the same caliber.
Rooted in the DIY ethos of punk rock, Vivienne Westwood has always been a brand that utilizes recycled and repurposed materials. Going from safety pins and ripped-up t-shirts spray-painted with “God save the queen” to stand-out runway couture, Westwood has always been committed to preserving the environment and holding her supply chain accountable.
With one of the most unique approaches to saving the Earth, Westwood defines sustainability as a tribute to Gaia, the goddess of Earth. Empathy for our earth begins with action. In 2012 the brand inaugurated the Climate Revolution at the London Paralympics closing ceremony and supports charities that take action against the climate-destroying actions of big businesses.
As one of the only independent luxury fashion houses left, Westwood has set the gold standard for individuality, climate change awareness, and sustainability in fashion. The namesake designer Vivienne Westwood is even an ambassador for Greenpeace. She designed their official Save the Arctic Logo in 2013.
This luxury shoe brand brings the economics of sustainability into the consumer’s consciousness, They never put their clothing on sale because they weigh the cost of their raw, organic materials, the labor that works on the clothing by hand, and costs for ethical factories. The transparency this brand offers is just as valuable as its shoes. We love their 2020 Boot. It represents the Yin and Yang of hardship and, hope that we can create in our world and our lives.
Gucci’s Equilibrium project might be the most robust showing of sustainability practices on this list. The quirky luxury brand headed by Alessandro Michelle has changed a lot over the past decade, and it shows through both their design and commitment to the environment. Through this initiative, they have championed a nature-positive climate strategy focused on minimizing fashion’s part in the climate crisis. Specifically, Gucci aims to protect and regenerate critical forests, mangroves, and farming landscapes around the globe. Their main priority is to lessen the carbon emissions found in the supply chain through their carbon neutrality plan.
The ultimate in luxury fashion staples, Prada, have committed themselves as much to the environment as they have to a great pair of leather shoes. They have created new products for both the Prada namesake line and their imprint Miu Miu. Recycled nylon products for Prada and upcycled jewelry for Miu Miu nail the craftsmanship. And Check out the stats that the entire Prada group has committed to! As of December 2019:
- 100 percent of their direct stores use LED lighting
- They use 100% renewable electricity
- They expanded their production sites to Europe and Italy owning 3 and 19 facilities respectively.
- Saved 723 tons of CO2 Emissions
- They use 85% recycled and certified paper
With so many brands taking steps toward greener pastures, it is time for everyone in the fashion industry to take a closer look at their contributions to or destruction of the environment.