Supporting black owned sustainable clothing brands is one of the best ways of advancing social justice efforts. In doing so, we not only help to reduce our impact on the planet — since fashion and climate change are linked — but we also help to uplift marginalized communities.
How do you know if a brand is actually sustainable?
Before we jump into the fun stuff, here’s what you need to know about choosing sustainable clothing. When considering more eco-friendly clothing options, it all comes down to three main criteria: materials and fabric, ethical sourcing, and corporate responsibility.
1. What kinds of materials and fabrics are they using?
When ethically sourced, natural fabrics like jute, organic cotton, wool, or hemp are the most sustainable fabrics. They are breathable, durable, and most importantly biodegradable and compostable at home.
Some synthetic fabrics are compostable and okay too. Fabrics like bamboo viscose, bamboo lyocell, lyocell, modal, and recycled nylon. Avoiding materials like elastane (aka spandex) is best, but we are all about making it work here at The Eco Hub, not perfection. So, if you find something with a bit of spandex in it, consider your options and go from there.
To authenticate the origin of these materials lookout for certifications like the Better Cotton Standard, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, or the Global Recycle Standard (GRS). For dyes and other materials consider Bluesign and OEKO-TEX® 100.
Other things to look for: recycled buttons and zippers, buttons made of natural materials like tag nuts and coconuts, or garments without any small, difficult to recycle components altogether.
2. How are those fabrics and materials sourced?
Here we consider how materials and fabrics are sourced. From the farms that produce the raw materials, to the mills and workers who transform them into the textiles we know and love, and those involved in the making of the final garments we get to enjoy. We favor practices that are as kind to people and the planet as possible. Ethical working conditions and fair wages are therefore central and necessary throughout the supply chain.
We also look out for any harmful chemicals or water-intensive processes involved in the making of our garments. This tends to look like organic agriculture, natural dyes, water-saving technologies, or waste recycling systems.
From start to finish, we look for slow fashion brands that prioritize workers and the environment wherever possible. Transparency is a key part of this as well, so the more open brands are about their processes, the better.
3. What is the brand's corporate responsibility?
Businesses that demonstrate their commitment to creating a better planet for all are the businesses we like to support. Environmental initiatives, poverty alleviation efforts, diversity and inclusion efforts, carbon-neutral operations, recycling programs, and sustainable packaging are great indicators of business values.
That said, investing in Black-owned or BIPOC-owned brands will go a long way in furthering equality and justice while helping to get us closer to reducing our environmental footprint.
When looking for more sustainable and ethical fashion, do consider shopping secondhand at your local thrift store or with online thrift stores as well. Shopping secondhand is the most sustainable option when it comes to clothing and I have some of my best thrift shopping tips to help with that too.
Some other things to keep in mind: definitely try avoiding the worst of the worst fast fashion brands wherever possible. You may also be interested in creating a minimalist closet? It’s a lot more awesome than it might sound and you can always do it your way because anything helps!
If you need to free up some space in your closet you can sell your old clothes online, and recycle your old bras, jeans, socks, shoes, and pillows but make sure to avoid these clothing recycling mistakes.
Black Owned Sustainable Brands We Love
1. Two Days Off
This independently woman-owned, carbon-neutral lifestyle brand is a great option if you’re looking for an awesome sustainable black-owned clothing brand. In their own words: “We believe thoughtfully crafted clothes will be loved, that loved clothes last, and you deserve the ease associated with knowing your wardrobe was artfully, ethically, and sustainably made.” We couldn’t agree more.
For materials, they prioritize natural fabrics like linen, cotton, wool, and hemp. They use deadstock fabrics sourced from Los Angeles, California where they are based; materials that may have otherwise been discarded. This also prevents the need for new materials to be manufactured. Their virgin linen is sourced from North America.
Your garments will be ethically made-to-order or made in small batches in Los Angeles, California, and ship plastic-free in reusable, 100% recyclable, and biodegradable packaging. Please note that the lead time for made-to-order garments is at least 4 weeks.
Created by Chelsea Bravo, this celebrated brand offers menswear, womenswear, and unisex styles made from repurposed materials — featuring only natural fabrics like hemp, linen, and organic cotton.
All of their designs are made to order in Brooklyn, New York by Chelsea herself. Perfect for anyone looking for a sustainable black-owned brand with quality, staple pieces.
Hope for Flowers is the brainchild of fashion legend, Tracy Reese. A champion of diversity and inclusion, she created Hope for Flowers for “women who are inspired by beauty but also desire to use their power as consumers to be agents for positive change in the world”.
Textiles used include biodegradable materials like organic cotton, organic linen, Tencel lyocell, and Cupro (made from cotton waste). Plus, you can be sure there will be absolutely no polyester or animal fibers in sight, making it an even better option in black-owned eco-friendly clothing.
As part of her commitment to more mindful production, the styles featured are chosen to be more versatile, size-inclusive, timeless, and produced in smaller quantities. Tracy also ensures that the people making their clothes are paid a living wage. To offset the brand’s carbon footprint a portion of profits is donated to organizations working on reducing carbon emissions.
4. Selva Negra
Selva Negra offers ethically made apparel for women and men, home goods, and accessories. With a commitment to ethical practices and sustainability, they are constantly working to implement low-waste solutions like upcycling fabric waste, compostable packaging, and small-batch production runs. Look out for their upcycled or size-inclusive sections.
5. Taylor Jay
Founder, Taylor Jay, set out to create reliable basics designed to perform, with every woman in mind. Perfect for minimalist clothing, their elevated yet comfortable garments are produced in partnership with an ethically sourced, fair labor factory located in Oakland, California.
With an intersectional approach considering female empowerment, inclusion, and environmental consciousness, Taylor Jay is constantly striving to be cleaner, safer, and healthier. They make sure to recycle and upcycle thread and use safer tints to dye their garments.
beRESONANT works to help talented black creators make their mark in fashion using their own state-of-the-art platform called create.ONE. All of their garments — with options for both women and men — are made-to-order. This helps to reduce waste and to avoid contributing to the 25 billion tons of garments that go to waste every year.
They also use digital printing which requires less ink and water and wastes less material too. All of the chemicals used in their printing process are BlueSign Certified and their inks are GOTS and ZDHC certified. Fabrics used are natural and 93% biodegradable as they work their way to using only 100% biodegradable materials.
Your order will ship directly to your door from their factory in the Dominican Republic, reducing the carbon footprint associated with traditional retailers who ship first to a warehouse and then to the consumer.
7. Aliya Wanek
A womenswear label, Aliya Wanek works at the intersection of identity and style to create comfortable yet stylish clothing that is ethically and sustainably produced. Garments are sewn by Aliya herself, working with two small factories located in the Bay Area, who help produce and dye garments. Materials used include an alpaca blend, organic cotton, and hemp blend, cotton, and silk noil (made from the leftover fibers from spinning silk).
Gracemade is a faith-driven apparel brand, offering a fashion-forward take on modesty. Founded by Jasmine Rennie, all garments are ethically manufactured in Los Angeles, CA, and a portion of profits is donated to charity.
9. Studio 189
With men's, women's, unisex, and kids' options, Studio 189 is a fashion lifestyle brand and social enterprise created to celebrate and support artisanal communities. All of their products are made in and inspired by Africa.
Their selection features traditional craftsmanship techniques such as natural plant-based dye indigo, hand-batik, kente weaving, and more. Materials used include GOTS certified cotton grown in Burkina Faso, recycled cotton, recycled glass, pineapple pinatex leather, and Tencel.
The brand also focuses on “empowerment, creating jobs and supporting education and skills training and partners with organizations such as the United Nations ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, NYU Stern School of Business and has collaborated with brands including Lexus. EDUN (LVMH), Fendi, Nike, Opening Ceremony, The Surf Lodge, Okay Africa, and Yoox Net a Porter”.
Lemlem specializes in resort wear (and swimwear) made responsibly, entirely in Africa. Created by supermodel Liya Kebede, Lemlem works to preserve the local art of weaving in Ethiopia, while celebrating women and nature. In their garments, you will find joyful colors and patterns, with a new take on the casual yet chic.
Committed to slow fashion, Lemlem has created over 200 jobs in partnership with an ethical artisan workshop in Ethiopia, and two small garment factories located in Kenya and Morocco; where workers are ensured safe and inclusive workplaces, living wages, and benefits.
Materials used include cotton for their handwoven pieces (sourced largely from Africa), Repreve (a recycled polyester fabric) for their swimsuits, the upcycled fabric turned into accessories (or donated to sewing schools), 100% recyclable tags and labels, as well as 100% compostable packaging.
11. Nia Thomas
Nia Thomas is an "autobiographical brand" offering ethically made, independent fashion, rooted in respect for the planet and all its inhabitants. Made from a collection of fabrics, trims, beads, pearls and anything else gathered from her travels, Nia Thomas sources her materials from artisan ateliers in locations like Morocco, Peru, Mexico, Spain, and more – looking first and foremost for quality.
Plant-based dyes made from food scraps are used to give new life to recycled and deadstock fabrics that would otherwise be discarded. Materials used in this process include avocado skins, hibiscus, cochineal, pomegranate skins, wild marigolds, logwood, onion skins, indigo, elderberries, tea bags, and more.
All of their garments are made in NYC’s garment district in a small female-led garment factory, where workers are ensured fair wages and safe and healthy working conditions; reducing waste and energy usage wherever possible.
12. Brother Vellies
Founded by Aurora James, a Toronto-native and New York City transplant, Brother Vellies offers stunning, one-of-a-kind, shoes and accessories using traditional African design practices and techniques. In keeping with its founder’s values, the brand is a celebration of artisanship, design, and humanitarianism.
As part of their commitment to reducing the impact of production on the planet, the brand uses "vegetable-tanned leathers, soling from recycled tires, hand-carved wood, floral dyed feathers along with a collection of other by-products materials sourced from farmers across the globe".
Brother Vellies also supports artisanal jobs around the world by creating their products with the help of artisans from South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Haiti, and New York City.
13. Jo-Anne Vernay
Rooted in slow fashion practices, Jo-Anne Varnay is a luxury vegan footwear brand using fruits to make its high-end collection of ethical footwear. Their certification from Remake Our World reflects a transparent and traceable supply chain, ethical sourcing practices, ensures that the brand uses safe and fair working conditions and works to reduce its environmental footprint and that all of its products are completely vegan and cruelty-free.
14. Kind Socks
Kind Socks offers fun, colorful socks that are sustainably and ethically produced. All of their socks are made of GOTS certified organic cotton with the help of a manufacturer based in Turkey. You can find their supplier’s name and their GOTS License number right on their website.
Galerie.la helps you shop your values! Whether you’re looking to shop BIPOC-owned, local, artisanal, eco-friendly, vegan, ethical, or recycled, they have lots of lovely things to choose from so definitely check them out for black-owned ethical fashion. You can choose from their selection of expertly curated apparel, accessories and self-care products as well.
A certified B Corporation, GOODEE is a marketplace of curated homewares and lifestyle products, which only works with responsible brands and artisans committed to making a positive social or environmental impact. With an eye for good design and a commitment to ethical practices all around, you will find all the essentials here, including apparel. They are also a 1% For The Planet member.
On a mission to make sustainable fashion more accessible, Sancho’s celebrates the work of sustainable artisan brands. They make sure to only source products that are made of organic, recycled, or recyclable materials. They also ensure there is no forced labor involved in any of the brands featured using third-party certifications. 30% of their budget is allocated to Black Owned and Size-Inclusive brands to ensure inclusivity. With a commitment to offering products that last, Sancho’s also offers a 365-day guarantee on all sales.
Final thoughts on black owned sustainable clothing brands
Shopping with black owned sustainable clothing brands has never been easier and will make a big difference in the lives of the people we choose to support with our dollars. There is sure to be something for everyone here so definitely check out these awesome brands making our journey to greater sustainability a little easier and more ethical.
For anything else be sure to check out our brand directory. You will find anything from jewelry and home products to zero waste essentials and natural cleaning products.
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