The sustainable plus size clothing market is estimated to be around 21.4 billion dollars (2016) and even with a number like that we still see major gaps in the retail space for curvy women and with two-thirds of American women over a size 14, it's time brands stepped up to the plate and offered us, shapely ladies, a bit more to choose from, Here are 10 Plus Sized Ethical Brands We Are Loving For Summer.
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All of these brands are sowing the seeds of change-making clothing accessible and inclusive. Something we all love to see.
Shopping for Plus-Sized Ethical Brands can be tricky- Here's what to consider:
Like everything here on The Eco Hub, I want to ensure I am always choosing brands that are taking all aspects of those businesses into account, I like to call this ethical criterion. Businesses today have the chance to be really transparent (bye-bye greenwashing) and the ones who are, are taking a bite out of fast fashion.
Brands featured on this website need to be taking (almost) all of the following into account. I say almost as if no one is perfect.
- Corporate Responsibility
- Ethical sourcing, where do the fabrics come from?
- sustainable manufacturing, where is it made, and by whom?
- Environmentally-conscious packaging when items are shipped
- Corporate responsibility
Let's break it down even further.
1. What are the fabrics & materials being used?
Sourcing fabrics and materials are normally pretty detrimental to the environment. Conventical cotton for example is one of the most pesticide-laden crops on the planet. It's highly polluting and not only affects the ecosystem it also makes the people who pick it really sick. Choosing environmentally friendly plus-size clothing made from natural fabrics like linen, jute, hemp, modal or organic cotton is a good place to start.
Although natural fabrics are best, some semi-synthetic ones like modal are okay as they are made from tree pulp.
Third, we look at recycled synthetics made either from other synthetic garments or from plastic waste (i.e. rPET, eco fleece, and Econyl). Just be sure to use a Guppyfriend wash bag because even recycled synthetics will still lead to microplastic pollution every time you wash them.
Other fabrics can include those made from animals, like wool (from sheep) or silk (from silkworms). With both choices, it can be very difficult to guarantee the animal is not harmed in the process, which makes me a bit weary. There are certifications that you can look for like Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) or ZQ Merino.
Recycled fabrics have also become a hot trend buts it's not without its issues. Most recycled clothing is made from either old plastic bottles or polyesters or other syntenic materials. The main issue here is microplastic and its detrimental effects on waterways all over the world. Given all these facts vegan plus-size clothing might be your best bet.
Additional fabric certifications to look for: OEKO-Tex 100, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Social Accountability International (SA8000), Business for Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), International Labour Organization (ILO), Fair Wear Foundation, and Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP).
2. How is the brand Ethically Souring its materials?
You've heard the term #whomademyclothes, it came about after the Rana Plaza collapse and brought worldwide attention to how the people who make our clothes are treated. In many cases, the fast-fashion brand we know (and Love) has a really poor track record for fair wages and safe working conditions. This is why third-party certification is of the utmost importance, they ensure that their culpability and that brands are not greenwashing us.
Fair Trade is something you've probably seen on coffee and chocolate, but it encompasses a wide range of items like clothing. It ensures that the farmers or workers are being paid daily for their work. It ensures no child labor in sourcing or manufacturing and protects against abuse.
B-Corp is a certification for businesses that balance "purpose and profit". They take everything into account and are "legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment."
3. What are the brands Corporate Responsibly?
What other steps is the brand taking to reduce its environmental footprint? Are they shipping the items to you plastic-free, do they have a take-back program to prevent clothing from ending up in landfills? Do they carbon offset shipping? These are some of the things you can look for when choosing a plus-size ethical brand.
4. Is the brand inclusive?
I talk about this quite a bit, it's so important that brands understand that we are all not a size two and clothing are not a one-size-fits-all deal. Are you seeing skinny models or are the models referred to in the sizes they sell, which should be more than a size 12.
Plus Sized Ethical Brands We Recommend
All of the brands below are the perfect fit for sustainable plus-size clothing.
1. Toad and Co.
Toad & Co.'s motto is "choosing sustainability isn't the easy route, it's the only route". Love that so much, they check all the boxes when it comes to the best sustainable plus size clothing for curvy women. They offer a wide range of fabrics from organic cotton, to Tencel, to hemp. In addition to their third-party certifications (like Blue Design and OEKO-Tex 100) they also work very closely with suppliers to make sure all the materials follow their ethical criteria.
I love the fact that they take the circular economy to heart and have done a really great job at using up all materials so nothing ends up in landfills.
They've partnered with thredUP one of my favorite online thrift shops for second-hand clothing. You can send in your clothes, from any brand, Toad & Co. Simply go to the website, get a shipping label and send your clothes off to find a new home! So Cool! You can even shop at a secondhand vintage store while you are there.
All of their eco friendly plus size clothing is beautifully created and super affordable and carries a wide range of men's and women's clothing. I simply love the dresses, there are so many to choose from. The dress that's pictured above is made from Tencel and Organic cotton, it's perfect for wedding season and goes up to an XL. Which is good, but not perfect.
Now let's talk about how they ship to you. It's an incredible example of how easy it is to do. When you checkout you have the option to choose the "Reusable Shipper", this is a rescuable package made from old billboards that you can return (they include a pre-paid shipping label).
Since 165 billion packages are shipped in the USA alone, this is an ingenious way to solve the issues of excessive packaging. When they get it back they will reuse it again and again and again. If they are out of the pitches when you place your order, they will still ship plastic-free in recycled boxes, don't forget to recycle yours.
This ethical plus size clothing brand from the Aussie brand is designed for modern urban living, Hope & Harvest manufactures intelligent and well-crafted pieces for women in sizes 12-26.
Simple, fresh, and clean lines are juxtaposed with individual prints and feminine design, to create original wardrobe staples for the modern minimalist.
They operate locally and manufacture through fair trade agreements with small factories in order to ensure their workers’ (and their families') well-being.
Most of the factories they work with are small and family-run. Factories are monitored regularly to ensure that they are providing a safe working environment.
They are known for their body inclusivity and you can even book a Skype appointment to have something custom made. The dress pictured is made from ethically sourced cotton and modal. Isn't it stunning?
3. Ace & Jig
Ace & Jig is a US-based company founded by two women who share a love of fashion and textiles. They work closely with artisans in India who sew and weave their fair trade plus size clothing.
Part of that collaboration is coming up with new ways to reduce textile waste while making sure that there is a shared standard of production and labor.
They use old, heritage weaving techniques in all of their creations, which can take up to 12 months to make.
They do not use any animal products and further reduce their carbon footprint by hand-weaving their products, which are made-to-order. It also reduces wastage by using its cutting room scraps and provides clothing care instructions so you can make your items last longer.
All of their employees are paid a fair wage. They are actively working towards becoming fair trade certified. They ensure that all the workers have a clean safe environment to work in. They are committed to conserving energy and reducing textile waste, which includes green energy sources and azo-free dyes. They recycle wastewater and repurpose textile scraps.
Ace&gig has worked with Projecthrive, an initiative in Delhi that empowers women through education, training, and opportunities. Free Childcare - employees benefit from free on-site childcare. Dresses are sized from XXS-2X.
All of their clothing is made in the USA. They work with two factories in LA that were chosen based on their ethical and sustainable manufacturing. The bulk of their textiles come from "deadstock". They make small runs of each pattern and offer a repair service as well, they want your dress to last a lifetime.
Their shipping packages are biodegradable from Noissue, a leader in this space. They've added something called Climate Friendly Cart which basically means it gives the consumer the chance to add a carbon credit to their purchase.
In addition to their eco-friendly plus size clothing, Altar carries jewelry home goods, and skincare items. They are also working towards the "zero-waste" model in all of their production methods.
One of the things I love most about this brand is its diversity pledge. They are actively working to source products from the BIPOC community making sure that at least 20% of what they carry in-store comes from Black-owned businesses. Sizes range from Small to 6XL.
5. Mara Hoffman
In an effort to foster mindful consumption habits, the brand maintains an open conversation about its approach and encourages consumers to reevaluate the relationship society has with clothing.
They are super-transparent about their manufacturing processes and regularly conduct in-person visits to all of their factories and have developed a long-standing relationship with all of them. They conduct each person who is part of making the collection part of the family.
Their artisans are made up of small groups of women in developing nations who are provided with better economic opportunities.
In 2016 they started working with Art Atlas a Peruvian NGO that works to support local community development and artisans' independence. A big part of their ready-to-wear collection is made in the USA.
Mara Hoffman is one of the best sustainable plus size clothing brands with fabrics that range from hemp to organic cotton, linen, recycled material, and Climate Beneficial wool which is "is produced through regenerative agriculture methods that have a net negative carbon impact at the ranching stage of production.
They have a line of swimsuits that are made from the discarded fishing nets, also known as Ghost Gear", this can produce microplastic when you wash, so a head up on that. Size range from 0 to 20.
Conscious Clothing designs and makes women’s apparel and accessories, using only ethically sourced sustainable materials. Creating capsule wardrobe pieces and minimalism in design remains the cornerstone of each collection as they strive to create functional clothing that works together season after season.
Find a beautiful selection of some of the best fabric, European linen, organic cotton, and hemp all ethically sourced and manufactured in their factory in the US. A factory and workspace which is made up mostly of reclaimed materials, like the windows from an old local gas station and a salvaged kitchen sink!
Their line of ethically sustainable plus size clothing is all hand-dyed in-house with low-impact dyes. I love their hemp clothing, hemp is one of the most sustainable fabrics in the market today. It uses very little water and does not need any pesticides, it's durable and built to last.
They ship in the most sustainable way they can but do note that it's a work in progress. Sizes range from XS to 4X.
I love PrAna's range of comfort and athleisure wear and ethical tees. We don't normally see inclusive sizing in this space (hello LuLu Lemon) so it's great to see a brand stepping up to the plate. No matter your size or favorite workout, from hiking to yoga, they got you covered with their hoodies, leggings, and sporting goods.
Find a wide range of eco-friendly fabrics like Tencel, hemp, modal, and even ethical merino wool.
They are fair trade certified, you can meet some of their makers who are featured in a series of videos on their website. Organic cotton is certified by GOTS. They use recycled wool, which according to them greatly reduces the need for water, dyes, chemicals, and energy compared to the process used for virgin wool.
They are also part of Bluesign® which basically means each textile's path is traced from manufacturing to finished pieces to ensure its actually sustainability.
The plus-size range goes up to 3X. The plus-size women's section is good, but I'd love to see more size inclusivity in all of their collections.
Based in LA, Poplinen makes all of its clothing in-house. From their fabrics to their packaging their clothing for plus size women checks all the boxes. They are committed to sustainable practices and will ship your items with compostable and recycled materials. All of their fabrics are plant-based and Oeko-Tex Certified as eco-friendly.
All of their plus size natural clothing is made to make women feel great about themselves, their goal is to foster a space of inclusivity and that is certainly reflected in the sizes they offer XS-3X. They plan to expand these sizes as they grow.
Eileen Fisher has been around for many years in the ethical fashion space. This Canadian designer uses a wide range of ethical sources, grown and manufactured fabrics like organic cotton, organic linen, Tencel and recycled cashmere, polyester, and nylon. I highly recommend you take a look at their sustainable business practices on their website. You can meet the makers, get a behind-the-scenes look at some of their factories and so much more.
They assess all of the factories through regular auditing to make sure workers are in safe and fair conditions and being paid a good wage. They recognize child and slave labor and note they "We are committed to building more transparency into our broader human rights approach and recognize that this is a long-term effort requiring continuous attention."
From farm to factory, they are completely involved in all aspects of their supply chain. They are members of the Fair Factories Clearinghouse and Ethical Trading Initiative. They are committed to the Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Circular Fashion System.
You know one of the larger issues with fast fashion is all the unwanted clothing that ends up in the garbage. To tackle this Eileen Fisher has taken back 41,000,000 garments in what they call these Waste No More programs. These items are then repurposed into other things. Pretty amazing!
Size ranges from S to 3X. One thing I will add is I'd love to see more size inclusivity in the models represented on the website.
How gorgeous is this white dress? And super affordable too at $209US, it's made from Modal and hand-printed.
Symbology works with women artisans in India and other developing nations to make handcrafted designs that are modern, figure-flattering, and well priced. Each piece is handmade using traditional fabric techniques like tie-dye, block printing, and embroidery.
They are fair trade and promote gender equality, each item is made from natural fibers and dyed with AZO-free dyes. Symbology is a vegan plus size brand that I simply love. They are sold on Made Trade one of the best online shops for ethical goodies. Sizes go from XS to 2XL.
A final word on Ethical Sustainable Plus Size Clothing
There are so many plus size ethical brands to choose from, but even with all of these choices, we still have a long way to go. Fast fashion and even some fair fashion brands make us feel if we are over a size 2, we are not worthy. I have spent countless hours over my life worrying and stressing about my weight.
Our size is not something that should define who we are as women. We all have something to learn and something to teach.
No matter your size though, remember buying less is what really counts. Curating a secondhand wardrobe is easier than you think. You can rent a dress or shop at an online thrift store or take a look at the brand directory for more ethical fashion ideas.
I'd love to hear from you. I am sure you have a fav brand? Share in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – sharing is caring 🙂 !