Whether with a collection that uses only natural fibers or a woven basket design passed down over generations, these designers bring substance to the world of style. And to us, that’s always in fashion.
With a few exceptions (we’re looking at you, nudist colonies) we all have to start our days getting dressed.
But just like the food you choose to eat, the clothing you buy – and whom you buy it from – is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Our purchases have an impact — remember the devastating 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh?
But the silver lining in that cloud is the response from the design community. Small, independent fashion designers have been popping up all over the world with a focus on sustainable materials, thoughtful design, fair employment practices and the celebration of creativity.
At DesignGood, we’ve dipped our toes in the sustainable fashion pool. From United We Art to GAIA, we’ve featured some of our favorite designers. But today, we’re going big time and highlighting nine independent fashion designers you may not have heard of.
1. First Rite
Nikki Garcia designs and produces her clothing collection in a city known for its fast-paced, tech-driven start-ups – San Francisco. But with quality design and careful production – not to mention Nikki’s dedication to working with only natural fibers – First Rite is helping to slow down the pace. The line creates basics that women and men of almost any age can layer and wear throughout the year.
2. Toino Abel
The hand-woven baskets sold at ToinoAbel.com are part of a generations-old family tradition. Founder Nuno Henriques’ great-grandfather created a business producing olive oil, wine and reed baskets many years ago. Today, every basket is made completely by hand in Portugal. (We recommend watching this video about Toino Abel’s production methods.)
This socially conscious brand that offers a huge amount of super-stylish men’s clothing, accessories and lifestyle products clearly means business. First of all, Apolois means “global citizen.” And then there’s the fact that Apolis operates through a model of “Advocacy Through Industry”: the idea that people in developing areas can live better lives when given access to the global marketplace. Finally, Apolis is also a certified B-Corporation that works closely with cooperatives and nonprofits in Uganda, Peru, Bangladesh and Nepal. Woah.
Rather than an independent designer, Zady is a beacon in the world of fast fashion and serves as a multi-brand e-tailer selling the collections of many independent designers with the goal of ending “fashion that ends up in landfills.” The other great thing about Zady? Shopping there helps The Bootstrap Project, a nonprofit that aims to create a sustainable platform to promote and retain centuries-old crafts and customs.
This Minneapolis-made women’s clothing line gives new meaning to the phrase “small batch” – only 25 of each style are produced. Looking for some new art for your home? While you’re shopping Hackwith, don’t miss the Tasseltries section, which features handmade tapestries and wall hangings. We’ll take one of everything.
Since its launch in 2010, Everlane has become kind of a big deal. What started out as a referral-invite only company for fashion folks in the know has turned into an e-commerce mini-giant that now sells a full selection of men’s and women’s apparel and accessories. Everlane’s strength is in its transparency. The California-based company proudly displays information about the factories where its pieces are produced and uses the #KnowYourFactories hashtag on social media. We could get used to this.
Inspired by travel, relationships and story, Matter calls itself a “socially motivated business.” The business? Making pants — and doing some good along the way. Matter pants are artisan-printed on loomed fabric. Matter also works closely with its manufacturing team in India, and possesses a clear philosophy about making a positive social and environmental impact.
8. anne b
Self-taught seamstress Sarah Burroughs wants to assure that the art of sewing and craftsmanship doesn’t disappear. So she’s taking the matter into her own hands by creating and selling a line of bags, called The Made Collection, that will help to fund a sewing school in Salt Lake City, Utah. The proceeds benefit not only the school, but also work with refugees on the production of the bags in hopes of one day offering them full-time employment.
This Nashville-based label had us at “born out of a dislike for excess and a desire for quality.” But then we found out that all pieces are made using natural fibers and that they’re designed to be seasonless (in other words, not disposable “fast fashion.”). To top of it off, each and every piece in the Elizabeth Suzann collection is also gorgeous.