Spring But Make It Sustainable: Your Ultimate Earth-Friendly Shopping Guide

I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m committed to becoming more thoughtful about what and where I shop, taking into consideration which brands I support and the impact my purchases have on the environment. More than ever, I want to feel good about my shopping choices.

Although it’s not talked about as much, the reality is that the fashion industry remains one of the world’s top contributors to climate change. The good news? There’s never been more brands who are committed to lightening their carbon footprint and creating a circular fashion economy than there are today. Between the number of emerging labels using upcycled materials, larger brands making the switch to deadstock fabrics, and the rise in popularity of the made-to-order model, it seems as though zero-waste fashion is taking over the indsutry. And I’m so here for it.

So this Earth Day, I’m not only highlighting some of these cool sustainable brands but I’m also showing you that staying on-trend and being a conscious consumer don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Ahead, you’ll find six overarching spring trends that are happening in fashion right now and plenty of Earth-friendly ways to try them out yourself. Sure, these looks are current in 2021, but I happen to think these silhouettes, colors, and prints should also earn a spot in your forever closet. Because at the end of the day, the most sustainable item of clothing is the one you already own.

It’s no secret that we’re crushing hard on all the knits right now. Between living in our loungewear for the past year and finding reasons to step out again, these matching sets strike the perfect balance between comfortable and put-together and are the best answer to the conundrum that is getting dressed in 2021.

Shop the matching Brooklyn Cashmere Pants ($200). How it’s sustainable: Public Habit operates on an on-demand basis, so they only make what they sell. This approach eliminates waste and warehousing costs. It does an excellent job building its community around transparency and its website clearly explains the pros and cons of each fabric and shares specific details about its factories and supply chain.

How it’s sustainable: According to Reformation, this sweater rib set is primarily made from TENCEL™ Modal, a wood-based fiber processed from sustainably managed beechwood forests in Northern and Central Europe. Also, the fiber yield of beechwood trees is 2x higher than cotton plants. As always, the brand shares the sustainability impact of each purchase. In the case of this little knit duo, it saves 31.0 lbs. of carbon dioxide, 816.0 gallons of water, and 1.0 lbs. of waste.

Shop the matching Ribbed-Knit Flared Pants ($525). How it’s sustainable: The California brand handmakes each of its designs in-house on specialist looms. Made in LA using FSC-certified viscose, this knit set is hand-loomed from cinnamon stretch-knit for a snug silhouette.

Shop the matching Kiki Shorts ($40). How it’s sustainable: Lacausa produces the majority of its pieces in Los Angeles using a low-waste design process and the brand is transparent about its continuous work towards human and environmental rights. This particular set is made from organic cotton pointelle knit.

Shop the matching Upcycled Rib Crop Tank ($34). How it’s sustainable: Built on the concept of zero-waste, For Days ensures that all of its products are recyclable. They plan and design for the end of a product’s life at the beginning to make sure what is returned to them and can go into future products. Now that’s how to close the loop.

Shop the matching West Bodysuit ($95). How it’s sustainable: All the materials Vitamin A uses are certified to meet the global Oeko-Tex standard for safe textiles and this stretchy knit set is cut from a blend of sustainable Tencel, organic cotton, and Spandex for texturized, ribbed beachwear. It’s also made in California.

I know it’s only spring, but we’ve just reviewed the fall/winter 2021 runways and there’s one trend we’re not waiting another minute to get on board with: vibrant colors. If ever there were a time to have a little fun, it’s this year. Instead of a single standout hue, though, we’re seeing all manner of saturated shades—from tangerine to hot pink to electric yellow.

How it’s sustainable: Designer Christina Tung orders the silk for SVNR’s slip skirts and dresses in bulk in white and hand-dyes them to order to minimize excess inventory. Each season, the brand produces less than a Ziploc bag full of waste. 

How it’s sustainable: Mara Hoffman’s swimwear is made using recycled fabrics, giving new life to materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Cut from chartreuse stretch-ECONYL®, this ‘Mazlyn’ bikini top has supportive underwired cups and slim crossover straps.  Shop the matching Lydia Bikini Briefs ($140)

How it’s sustainable: This puffer jacket is made of a reconstructed vintage sleeping bag. It is one of a kind and not designed for a specific gender or body.

How it’s sustainable: Kes makes their pieces from natural and organic materials and 100 percent silk textiles. During production, they cut down on waste by using leftover fabric scraps in their recycled style pieces and everything in manufactured in NYC.

How it’s sustainable: Made from post-consumer recycled fabric and sent in compostable packaging.

Stop, rewind, play. It may be 2021, but according to the wardrobes of fashion people lately, it might as well be 2001. That’s right, the late ’90s/early ’00s are trending hard with everything from baggy denim to printed mules to shield sunglasses, proving that what goes around always comes back around. The best way to shop this trend is, of course, the plethora of vintage and secondhand sellers offering up genuine items from the era. Or if you’re wise enough to hold onto any of these silhouettes, go ahead and raid your own closet.

How it’s sustainable: Shopping vintage not only cuts down on the significant impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, but the influence of your purchase can help curb the appetite for fast fashion and overproduction.

How it’s sustainable: Each EB DENIM style is unique and is made from 100% reclaimed fabric.

How it’s sustainable: Shopping vintage not only cuts down on the significant impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, but the influence of your purchase can help curb the appetite for fast fashion and overproduction.

How it’s sustainable: Shopping vintage not only cuts down on the significant impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, but the influence of your purchase can help curb the appetite for fast fashion and overproduction.

How it’s sustainable: The brand’s knitwear is designed in New York City by sibling founders, Edouard and Andrea Leret and sustainably crafted in Mongolia. They’re focused on a single item: the classic crewneck cashmere sweater. They use the highest quality Mongolian cashmere, manufactured with exceptional craftmanship by a single producer to create a garment that is aesthetically and fundamentally enduring. Released in limited runs just a few times a year, you can be sure that each LERET LERET knit is unique and never repeated.

How it’s sustainable: This set—and the whole of Wray’s fun-loving, size-inclusive offering—is made ethically in Hong Kong and designed and developed in NYC. For Wray, sustainability means working with responsible factories, utilizing closed-loop production, and sourcing recycled fabrics and compostable packaging.

How it’s sustainable: Spanish twin sisters Sayana and Claudia work hand in hand with artisans from around the globe, collaborating with NGOs in Senegal and Nepal to promote local craftsmanship and work towards building long-term relationships with social projects where artisans have an important role for change.

That’s right, skin is in. Between cutouts, lace-up ties, and G-string pieces, there’s never been a better time to take a little fashion risk—exactly how much skin you choose to expose and where is entirely up to you, but based on the risqué offerings we’re seeing, a little risk equals a high reward. (The reward being an A+ outfit, of course.)

How it’s sustainable: The buzzy brand is committed to sustainability using deadstock and biodegradable fibers in their core fabrics. All garments are manufactured in Los Angeles and materials are sourced locally to minimize the carbon footprints. Miaou uses digital printing (to reduce energy and water consumption) and all packaging and mailers are made from biodegradable eco-poly.

How it’s sustainable: Recently becoming the first climate-neutral certified lingerie brand, collections are very small, based on the use of dead-stock fabrics and trims and the production runs on a made-to-order basis.

How it’s sustainable: The brand partners with reputable factories in New York that are sustainable and socially responsible: factory workers receive fair pay and work within a healthy environment.

Ever since the summer of quarantine fueled all our escapist fantasies, aesthetics like Cottagecore have popped up, and all the nostalgia, nature, and romance that comes with it. Proximity to an actual cottage notwithstanding, nap dresses, “grandma” knits, and plenty of puff sleeves are all ways your wardrobe can transport you.

How it’s sustainable: Since the brand’s inception in 2016, the founders and sisters Margaret and Katherine Kleveland aim to close the gender gap at every stage of the supply chain and design process by working with carefully selected manufacturers that support and empower women. 

How it’s sustainable: Many of Christy Dawn’s breezy dresses, this style included, are made from leftover (or “deadstock”) fabric. The brand strives to be transparent and lists information about its manufacturers in Los Angeles and India on its website.

How it’s sustainable: Crafted in waterproof and washable recyclable rubber, these slides are the result of a collaboration with designer Jonathan Simkhai.

Up next, the sustainable swimsuits you can feel good about (and the brands who make them).