Looking to make your basics more sustainable and eco-friendlier? We’ve come to the right place for all things sustainable basics! I don’t know about you, but I have an absolute favorite white tee and it’s my go-to piece. Basics are so easy to pair with anything and make getting ready that much easier when you are looking for a casual look.
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Here’s what you need to know about investing in eco-friendly basics
Basics are wardrobe staples and it’s important to know why investing in sustainable fashion basics is good for the environment and your wallet. Having sustainable basics like a button-up, a striped sweater, and a staple camel trench coat can really transform your wardrobe and make it that much easier to get ready in the morning and always have a piece of fashion that never goes out of style.
Basics are wardrobe essentials from jeans to shoes that can complete your look or enhance it with minimal effort. An important factor to consider when investing in sustainable fashion basics is slow fashion, by having these basic items you are cutting down on the use of water, fossil fuels, and energy, and the materials ensure the longevity of your clothes which reduces textile waste and takes the pressure off your wallet when you don’t have to replace items. Did you know that it takes approximately 2,700 liters of water to make one plain t-shirt?
Here are the criteria to look for when buying sustainable basics
As you know, here at the Eco Hub we take the four most important criteria into account when discussing anything sustainable fashion:
Fabric and materials: Are the fabrics sustainable? Do they have certifications promising their commitment to being sustainable? Sustainable and environmentally friendly fabrics can be materials such as recycled cotton, organic linen, TENCEL™, and modal.
Ethical sourcing: Do you know how the fabric is sourced? Where does it come from? Or how the workers are compensated? These questions are crucial to ensure that workers are paid a fair wage and work in a safe environment and that your clothes are truly coming from an ethical place. Certification for these factories can look like: ILO, Fair Labour Association, WRAP, Fair Trade, ISO 14001, SA8000, SMETA, ETI, or GOTS.
Corporate responsibility: What does the company do to go the extra mile, do they package their items with biodegradable or compostable materials? Is the company carbon-neutral, holds a B Corp certification, or do they work with any charities? These things are a nice bonus that a lot of the brands we work with have!
Inclusivity: We love it when companies are inclusive of all sizes, EVERY and ALL bodies should be celebrated and feel confident in what they choose to wear.
Our top picks for the best sustainable basics
‘Sown’ means to have planted, invested, chosen, and/or stewarded, and ‘smith’ means expert, so you know you are getting quality products that are mindfully created. Based in Canada, Sownsmith has minimalist designs with ethical practices and sustainable materials with sizes ranging from XS-XL. These beautiful garments are as timeless and comfortable as they are versatile.
Sownsmith — fabric and materials
This company uses Lenzing MicroModal yarn that is sourced in South Korea. The fabric is then custom milled in Canada and is super soft! They also offer beanies made in Alberta from GOTS-certified cotton.
Sownsmith — ethical sourcing
To ensure no slave labor is ever used Sownsmith fabric and clothing are ethically manufactured right here in Canada, leaving no questions about the employees making a livable wage and being treated humanely.
Sownsmith — corporate responsibility
Sownsmith is dedicated to taking a stand against the over forty million people trafficked by producing only ethically made clothes and donating 7% of their profits to local and international organizations that fight trafficking. They also ensure that all of their packaging is recyclable or compostable, including their stickers, hang tags, and tissues.
Founded by a brother and sister team with a childhood dream of making clothes together, FRÈRE DU NORD (or FDN), is an awesome 100% Canadian-made everyday essential clothing brand making some of the best sustainable basics out there. Their garments are clearly designed to last and made with elevated attention to workmanship and design.
Find unisex tees, hoodies, zip-ups, shorts, sweatpants, robes, and other great essentials, in timeless color options including white, black, green, bureau (a shade of red), grey, and navy. Sizes range from XS to XXL and they offer custom clothing for anyone that doesn’t fit into their production size range! Their garments fit super well and you can feel the quality. They also washed super well and you can really tell they are made to last.
FRÈRE DU NORD — fabric and materials
Materials used include french terry and a jersey knit made from 100% cotton sourced from the best knitting mill in Ontario. Their custom french terry fabric is sueded on the outside, leaving a buttery hand feel. It is also lightly brushed on the loop side for softness against the skin as well.
FRÈRE DU NORD — ethical sourcing
All of their designs, pattern making, manufacturing, and retail are done in-house where they have full oversight over the working conditions of their employees. In fact, their retail store in Oshawa, Ontario is integrated into the factory where customers can connect with the very people who are making the garments, which is super cool. The only thing FDN doesn't do is manufacture its own fabric and notions but this is done in Ontario as well.
As part of their commitment to better conditions for the people who make their clothes, FDN uses the Single Piece Flow for sewing their garments. This means workers are responsible for the sewing of the entire garment, moving from machine to machine, rather than sitting at one machine through an entire shift and repeating the same motions. This not only eliminates the repetitive stress musculoskeletal injuries that workers in the garment industry are extremely prone to, but it enhances the quality of their products.
It also allows them to sew just in time (JIT) keeping inventory low and reducing waste. Often, their garments are sewn, pressed, and shipped the same day there are ordered. They also cut in small batches which keeps inventory low, eliminates overproduction and helps FDN stay responsive to customer demand — rather than using the wasteful practices fast fashion brands use to stay on top of trends.
FRÈRE DU NORD — corporate responsibility
In addition to their ethical manufacturing practices, FDN offers customers free in-store repairs. Whether the garments rip, stain, or are otherwise damaged, FDN has got your back so that the garments can last as long as possible. The brand also regularly works with local organizations that serve the most vulnerable. Some of their recent efforts include: sewing & donating over 4,000 reusable cloth masks which were distributed during the pandemic with the help of six local services including Feed the Need Durham & The Welcoming Streets Program. For Christmas 2021, they made and gifted 27 special double layered hoodies to teens at the Refuge Youth Outreach. And during an extreme cold snap in January 2022, they made over 40 neck warmers which were distributed at the Backdoor Mission at Simcoe Street United Church. A great option for sustainable basics, definitely check out FRÈRE DU NORD.
Branded as Earth’s Favourite™ Clothing, you can find all your needs for affordable sustainable basics. We are big fans of Pact from their ethical t-shirts, eco-friendly socks, and ethical sweaters, you are sure to find the perfect basics at this shop! They have easy pairing colors and sizes ranging from XS to XXL.
Pact — fabric and materials
Pact is GOTS organic cotton certified and is the main fabric used in their sustainable basics, which means your clothes are not only ethical but super soft. There is a low amount of elastane in their pieces that require it.
Pact — ethical sourcing
Pact works closely with Fair Trade Certified™ factories which ensures that the workers are properly compensated for their work and are taken care of. Fairtrade companies also ensure that the community is uplifted, and the environment remains protected, and being eco-friendly is a core value.
Pact — corporate responsibility
Not only does Pact let you know the water savings, and carbon offset when you’re looking at an item you want to purchase, but they also use paper envelopes made from 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard, and post-consumer recycled cardboard boxes. They also give you the option to use their shipping boxes to donate your old clothing items to nonprofits.
Call us biased but we love a Canadian brand, tentree is sure to spike your interest with their sustainable fashion basics! Here you will find stylish (and sustainable) items to add to your basics collection. tentree has minimalist designs and soft colors like their crushed berry or mushroom options. You can grab your favorite items in sizes XS to XL, we are big fans of their pajamas, athleisure, hats, and sustainable men’s clothing (because men like basics too!).
tentree — fabric and materials
tentree's basics feature fabrics like organic cotton, TENCEL™, organic cotton hemp, and lyocell. For their buttons they use 100% coconut buttons which is a really cool feature!
tentree — ethical sourcing
The factories are certified by WRAP, BSCI, SA8000, and Fair Trade, which really displays their commitment to the environment.
tentree — corporate responsibility
With tentree they plant a tree with every purchase made from them, which helps restore our forests that are being depleted. They are also Climate Neutral Certified and keep a record of the impact that each of their pieces makes, they are in a partnership with GreenStep to track this.
Another great Canadian company to search for the next favorite sustainable basic. They have a great selection if you're a fan of minimalist fashion pieces, with a size range of XS-4X (for some pieces). Encircled has style, quality, and comfort in mind when you choose to buy their affordable ethical clothing, with very classic looks and neutral colors, for your affordable sustainable basics they even have a basics kit which gives you a great value when looking to upgrade your wardrobe.
Encircled — fabric and materials
Encircled uses modal, TENCEL™, lyocell, rayon from bamboo, non-GMO cotton, merino wool, and linen for their fabrics. Their modal fabric is OEKO-TEX certified which means it is free of chemicals.
Encircled — ethical sourcing
As their products are all produced in Canada there is a high level of labor standards to abide by, they also have their own set of ethical codes which guarantees their commitment to being an ethical company.
Encircled — corporate responsibility
Encircled is a Certified B Corp, they also brand themselves as being 100% green-powered from their studio down to the eco-friendly in-office products they use like reusable cutlery and bioplastics for events.
As a small scale manufacturer Rawganique offers chemical-free pure organic clothing, they also offer slippers, sandals, and shower curtains… just to name a few of our favorite items for this shop. Their eco-friendly basics are made in Canada, the US, and Europe and have carefully ensured that their products are pure and contain no harmful chemicals. Their sizes range from XS-XXL.
Rawganique — fabric and materials
Rawganique uses organic pima cotton, flax linen, and hemp, the buttons are even made from natural shell. These materials are not only great for the environment, but they are breathable and soft to the touch.
Rawganique — ethical sourcing
Rawganique grows their own organic cotton, hemp, and flax linens, they watch over all aspects of this process from growth to sewing. They are a sweatshop free company which highlights being animal cruelty free, no animal testing, and zero slave labour.
Rawganique — corporate responsibility
As a small-scale manufacturer, they are committed to providing the best quality products as possible that are eco-conscious. They avoid overnight shipping unless you live in Washington as they are opening a warehouse there, they also avoid GMO, pesticides, BPA, PVC, and other toxic chemicals.
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Outerknown is a great company to shop for your next sustainable fashion basic, this company has built its platform on using a circular modal which keeps their products like their basics, swimwear, and jeans out of landfills and in circulation forever. They have super cute basics like their Sydney boyfriend shirt or their devin blazer, perfect for pairing and wearing for an overshirt. You can grab these items in sizes XS-XL or 0-12.
Outerknown — fabric and materials
The primary fabric and materials come from recycled materials, most of the women’s basics have REFIBRA™ lyocell, the cotton is GOTS certified, and the polyester is made using plastic from trashed water bottles.
Outerknown — ethical sourcing
As their materials are sourced as being either organic or recycled the carbon emissions and landfill wastes are reduced. Outerknown is the first brand to pursue Fair Labor Association (FLA) accreditation, also through Fair Trade US, they ensure that over 5,000 workers are taken care of and are treated with respect and dignity.
Outerknown — corporate responsibility
Outerknown currently has a plan to use their circular modal at 100% by 2030, they also have taken steps towards phasing out harmful chemicals and synthetic fibers. They also have a wonderful take back program where you can sell your pre-loved pieces on their site to get store credit… What a neat way to upcycle!
The Classic T-Shirt Company was founded on the basis that a simple T-shirt can make a big difference, made locally in California, these high-quality sustainable basics are sure to meet your needs. They offer simple basics with T-shirts in colors like black, forest green, and navy blue, and sizes that come in XXS-XXL. They also have incredible organic bras and undies to check out!
The Classic T-Shirt Company — fabric and materials
The Classic T-Shirt Company ensures the ethical and sustainable standards of their cotton by being BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) this helps to decrease soil erosion by 26% when you choose organic cotton.
The Classic T-Shirt Company — ethical sourcing
Not only does The Classic T-Shirt Company use organic cotton for their products, but they also have family-run farms, which ensures direct-trade practices and safe working conditions. It’s also a great advantage that they make their materials in California and have their facility there.
The Classic T-Shirt Company — corporate responsibility
Right on the website when you look at an item you can see they give 1% of their sales to charities. The funds go to things like building new schools in rural areas of Egypt that do not have access to education. They also support tree planting to slow global warming, safe water access for those who don’t normally have that, and they support ocean cleanup efforts to save marine life.
This company strives to do better and elevate the ethical and sustainable standards in the fashion industry, making buying from Threads For Thoughts a now brainer choice when sourcing affordable sustainable basics, they have a range of classic colors like white, grey, and soft pink, they have sizes ranging from XS-XXL.
Threads For Thoughts — fabric and materials
Threads For Thoughts uses tencel modal, organic cotton, recycled and polyester. 100% of their products use eco-friendly raw materials and fabrics, recycles 80% of its water, and makes partnerships with certified factories.
Threads For Thoughts — ethical sourcing
They have created a dye technology that will dye fabrics in a closed loop system with 95% less water and zero chemicals. Their factories all come with various certifications such as WRAP, Fair Labor Association, ISO14001, and GOTS.
Threads For Thoughts — corporate responsibility
Threads For Thoughts’ packaging is FSC certified, which is a non-profit organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. They have made it their mission to get rid of single use poly bags and use Wave bags which dissolve in water and can be safely consumed by animals.
10. MATE the Label
Mate is locally made in Los Angeles with non-toxic and organic materials, their mission is straightforward, their clothes are clean from seed to skin. You are sure to fall in love with these sustainable basics with beautifully dyed colors like natural, Sedona, and bloom there is a piece flattering for everyone. The sizes come in XS-XL and they even have a maternity and postpartum section.
Mate the Label — fabric and materials
This shop has natural fabrics like organic jersey, organic terry fox, Tencel, linen, organic thermal, and slub. To make their rich colors they use low-impact dyes and since they only used plant-based materials their eco-friendly basics are vegan.
Mate the Label — ethical sourcing
Mate believes in creating a safe, comfortable, and fair working environment, they state that this goes beyond their headquarters it is applied in their supply chain down to the recyclers. They also recycle their clothing and give your old garments life and use it for a new garment, all their pieces are knitted, cut, sewn, and dyed in LA (only fifteen minutes from the office!).
Mate the Label — corporate responsibility
The mailers at Mate the Label are made from recycled materials and made locally for shipping, they have also eliminated the plastic in their labels. Mate uses a circular model which means they will recycle your old Mate clothes.
11. Saint Basics
The name says it all, at Saint Basics you’re getting everything you came to this article for, it’s a great place to grab all your sustainable basic must haves! They have incredibly soft basics that will make you feel good about what you are wearing, choose from colors like faded denim, silke burgundy, and red melange. You can grab these eco-friendly basics in sizes XS-XL.
Saint Basics — fabric and materials
Saint Basics are made from Tencel™ lyocell, a small amount of elastane, and recycled polyamide. They also have organic cotton and eucalyptus as part of their fabrics and materials. All their products are also PETA approved guaranteeing that they are vegan, they are also a part of Confidence in Textiles which means their items are tested for harmful substances.
Saint Basics — ethical sourcing
The cotton is sourced from West Turkey on the Aegean coast, the Aydin region has dedicated itself to producing organic agriculture. They get their eucalyputs fibers from Lenzing which is the most responsible supplier of wood fibers, and their workers who make all their products into what they are today are taken care of in a safe and healthy working environment in a factory in Portugal.
Saint Basics — corporate responsibility
With the money they save by selling directly online, they donate that back to support charities and give back to their workers and clients. They have chosen the shortest route possible when transporting their goods from Portugal to the warehouse in the Netherlands.
A Final word on sustainable basics
There are so many great options out there for sustainable basics, it is so important to remember that even making the smallest change by shopping sustainable and ethical, and that you can make a major impact on the environment. When you choose to shop for the best sustainable fashion basics you are reducing plastic waste, carbon emissions, and reducing water waste, not only that but you will get so much more life and wear out of your clothes.
Thank you so much for reading this blog on sustainable basics, we at the Eco Hub hope you were able to fall in love with some new brands and find some great new basics to add to your closet! We love hearing from you so feel free to tell us what items you will be adding to your cart!
A friendly reminder that sharing is caring, if you found this blog helpful or want to send your newfound love of sustainable basics to a friend, please share with everyone!