How to shop sustainable fashion

  • Author: Ben
  • Date: August 14, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Sustainable fashion is a hot topic presently, just like climate change and eco-friendly products in the beauty industry are too. But what does it entail and how authentic are major fashion labels with their special product lines to ride the interest to the end of the line? Read on to learn how to shop sustainable fashion, and look and feel amazing about it.

What Is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion includes several different factors that come into play. Here are a few of them:

Safe Working Environment – Dyes are regularly used to create garments available with multiple color choices. Some dyes are harmful to the employees who work in the factories.

Any chemicals used in clothing manufacturing need to be carefully monitored to ensure no one is negatively affected by their use.

Durability – While some brands are thought of as “fast fashion” because they offer the latest tops, pants, and other items that are only fashionable for a few months, other brands look at durability.

When providing classic designs that don’t as easily go out of fashion or wear out after just a few washes, these items don’t need replacing soon. This puts less pressure on existing landfills.

Fair Compensation – Everyone in the fashion manufacturing and sales chain must be fairly compensated. When factory workers toil for long hours at minimal pay, the brand shouldn’t be able to claim they provide sustainable fashion.

Sustainable for whom?

Carbon Impact – The level of carbon emissions produced through the production, packaging, and transportation of fashion products needs to be monitored and minimized.

It’s also possible to work via a third party to purposely offset the carbon emissions generated.

Not Harmful to Animals – Some fashion labels are PETA certified confirming that no animals were harmed in the testing or production of their clothing range. This is something vegans will care about.

While no one aspect suggests a fashion label or a clothing range constitutes sustainable fashion, the above is a start. However, being able to only point to one area where the brand is doing a good job proves unconvincing.

Factors To Look Out For In Sustainable Fashion

Fashion brands are keen to jump on the bandwagon of sustainable fashion. If they see consumers are motivated by more eco-friendly companies, they may want to purchase their clothing or footwear. And the opposite is true too.

Sometimes, the CEO or other senior executives are environmentally conscious and push hard for sustainable fashion in the business they work for.

Other times, it’s more like a 50/50 situation where it’s good for the planet, but it’s also good for their bottom-line too.

Shopping for sustainable fashion as a vegan is another step beyond this, check out our article to know what materials to avoid when you are shopping for sustainable fashion, and what vegan-friendly fabrics to look out for.

How Long Has the Company Offered Sustainable Fashion?

Consideration for the planet and not harming it has been growing in strength over the last few years. People have been talking about global warming and damage to the environment at least since the 1980s.

How old is the brand? How long after their launch did they begin to work towards sustainable fashion in one form or another?

If they’re a newer brand, was it part of the business plan from the start or an add-on later?

How Convincing Are Their Claims?

What claims does the brand make about why they’re a reasonable, sustainable choice? How do they back these claims up?

How transparent are they with their record for sustainable fashion? Do they publish reports about it that are downloadable from their website?

Do they include relevant statistics in their Annual Report to shareholders?

How serious are they versus paying lip service to it because most other fashion brands are doing the same? Are they just trying to avoid being the odd one out?

Are Their Entire Ranges Now Sustainable or Sub-brands Only?

Some fashion houses or labels will have one or more ranges that are specifically sustainable whereas others are not. Other fashion companies may have converted their entire business or been this way from day one.  

Only having smaller, sub-brands being sustainable and not all clothing labels from the company isn’t ideal. But, at least, they’re honest about it.

Are they working on overhauling their other clothing lines? Likely they’ve discussed this as an ongoing effort in the press or releases to the public.

Are They Members of Certification Bodies for Sustainability?

There are many certification bodies relevant to the fashion industry. Not all fashion labels are members though.

Certainly, certification is not free and is often extremely time-consuming to qualify. For the smallest fashion brands, certifications can be impractical and/or unaffordable. However, larger fashion labels have no such excuses.

Here are a couple of examples:

Dyeing and Bleaching

The GOTS certification, for example, relates to the color dyes, fabric bleaching processes, and chemicals present within the manufacturing process. GOTS effectively sets limits on what is allowable to qualify.


Cotton farming needs to be as sustainable as any other type of farming. The Better Cotton Initiative looks to protect farmers and those who work for them to ensure the sustainability of their industry.

Some companies have B Corp status too. This relates to sustainability and reporting transparency to ensure they remain ethical and sustainable.

Do They Provide Updated Reports on Their Efforts?

Is the effort to be sustainable more to get good press and join the party? Or does the company keep up with its reporting on ethical, sustainable practices?

Is it clearly ongoing and deepening in focus, or merely surface level with a couple of halfhearted sustainability initiatives that “ran their course?”

Have Employees Protested Low Pay or Poor Work Conditions?

It’s difficult and risky for employees to protest poor working conditions or low pay (they may get fired). People protesting after they’ve left their employer can simply be labeled as “poorly informed.”

Getting the word out used to be more difficult. However, sharing information on social media or anonymously passing on information to reporters about bad working practices like safety concerns, lack of transparency, or low pay can reach the front page.

For companies that get named and shamed, what was their reaction? Did they initially issue press releases denying it only to have to backtrack later?

Or did they own up to it and resolve it? Also, what happened to the whistleblower?

Why You Should Care About Sustainable Fashion As A Vegan

Being a vegan isn’t just about not consuming animal meat and preventing the suffering of animals. For most vegans, it’s just as much an ethical question about how people are treated as one of concern for the planet.

While sustainable fashion may not seem like a vegan thing, it is. Even ignoring PETA labeling confirming animals weren’t harmed, the workers matter too.

All workers should be treated fairly, kept safe, paid reasonably, and not face discrimination of any kind.

Endless new goods being manufactured, purchased, later thrown out, and ending up in a landfill is not good for the planet.

“Fast fashion,” as popular fashion has been labeled, sees garments worn little and tossed out. Even sustainable produced ones! So, not overconsuming as a vegan is also a factor.

How To Shop Sustainable Fashion? [The Vegan Way]

The most sustainable fashion of all is either wearing something you already own or purchasing a previously made, previously worn item, rather than buying new.

While vegans should care about sustainable fashion, it’s also worth pointing out that second-hand clothing exists. Vintage clothing also exists and is gaining in popularity too.

However, if you still wish to purchase new, then research ethical clothing brands. The Good on You website rates different clothing manufacturers and companies in other industries too.

They examine these businesses from an ethical perspective, including what certifications they hold, etc.

Good on You also have mobile apps to allow you to perform a brand look-up before entering a clothing store, either online or offline.

List of Some Of The Best Vegan Sustainable Fashion Brands

Here are a few of the sustainable fashion brands making strides in ethical, sustainable, and often vegan standards:

Ecologie from AWDis uses recycled fabrics and eco ones in their clothing range. Also, they’re PETA certified from an animal cruelty standpoint to certify their brand as vegan friendly.

MATE is sustainably making strides, particularly in being a leader in the industry for offsetting carbon emissions.

Biehler is a German brand sold globally. They produce cycling attire to keep warm and aerodynamic at the same time. They manufacture locally for their retailing to avoid a carbon footprint. Also, their clothing materials are good for the planet too.

Mightly is available in the US and focused on the children’s clothing market. They’re GOTS registered for ethical cotton and are certified as Fair Trade in the US too.

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