A Green Times survey of men’s casual and formal eco-fashion from around the world.
Sustainable clothing has truly come of age. No longer relegated to obscure and hard-to-find (not to mention unfashionable) brands, it seems the whole industry is finally taking notice of the growing market for clothing aimed at environmentally and socially-aware consumers. And while dressing sustainably might have meant giving a back-seat to style in the past, today eco-friendlier brands are cool, up-market and fashion-forward as never before. And so commonplace across the fashion industry are they becoming, you might not even realize you’re wearing them.
I’ve always been a fan of the modern Swedish designs of J. Lindeberg, but only recently did I learn that they were a member of Fair Wear (i.e. they care about workers conditions and rights) and that certain pieces are made of organic cotton, like these two-button polo t’s.
Classically cut, they come in a range of seasonal colours and are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, from plants which are not genetically modified. 55 UK Sterling.
Repanui is a brand I’ve only recently come to know, but their eco-appeal is massive. Check out these t-shirts: very cool although I admit the photography does have a lot to do with it. Reasonably priced too at 25 UK pounds sterling
The T’s are made with organic cotton in a wind-powered factory by a company with serious sustainability credentials: Rapanui won the Sustain Governance award two consecutive years (2010 and 2011), has it’s factories audited by Fair-Wear and uses phthalate-free inks. Aside from organic cotton, the company also works with Bamboo and Hemp.
This take on an old classic using organic cotton and FSC certified rubber is also by Repanui. (40 UK pounds sterling)
I love these organic t-shirts by Misericordia, lovingly hand-made in their Peruvian factory where workers are treated as people, not commodities.
The company doesn’t exclusively use organic cotton, but the emphasis here is a bit more on social and ethical sustainability, rather than environmental. Each garment is made by a maximum of two people, including the cutting of the cotton, sewing, embroidering or printing: the works. While the T’s may be pricey at 49 euros, you know you’re getting a truly one-of-a-kind piece of clothing.
I love their sweaters and tops too. Check out this uniquely designed piece also made of 100% cotton.
American casual-wear brand Alternative Apparel features a line called Alternative Earth, now comprising 30% of the entire collection. While the whole company sources and produces according to strict social and environmental vendor guidelines and principles, the Alternative Earth line in particular features pieces made from organic cottons, low-impact dyes and washing methods, plant cellulose rayon and eco-fleeces (cotton mixed with polyester made from recycled plastic bottles).
Top picks: This stylish eco-fleece zip-up sweat top (below) and their organic cotton t’s.
Match it with a pair of Levi’s “Waterless jeans“: The company that invented these timeless classics is now behind new technology that produces jeans with 96% less water, saving hundredes of millions of litres of water.
There are currently over 40 items in the Waterless collection and it keeps growing. More importantly, Levi’s also recently announced that it is working to detoxify its entire supply chain, and has committed itself to reducing to zero any discharge of hazardous chemicals from the entire production process—in the U.S. and abroad—by 2020. Great news whether you’re a fan of their denim or not.
I also like that when you order their jeans online, they arrive in ultra-minimal packaging: inserted directly into a thin, plastic UPS Courier sleeve and without a paper receipt.
Another denim brand to watch out for is Replay, which has joined Levi’s in combining environmental consideration with style. Higher priced but some could argue more fashionable thanks to its Italian heritage, the latest collection, named Laserblast, is made using a technique which involves replacing traditional washing with laser treatment – reducing the amount of water used by 85% and stopping the need for chemical usage. I have to say the jeans are great looking too and quality does last.
If you live in the UK and looking sharp is on the agenda, you might want to head in to your local Marks and Spencer. The chain sells what it says is the world’s most sustainable suit. While some refute the claim that wool (like leather) is sustainable even when organic (livestock contribute amply to CO2 emmisions), this suit may be the closest thing on the market to date (aside from borrowing your friend’s!).
The suit is part of the British department store’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, and this jacket-and-trouser combo features traceable Global Organic Textile (GOTS)-certified organic wool, a lining derived from recycled plastic bottles, recycled-polyester canvas interfacing, reclaimed buttons and pockets, a repurposed waistband, and recycled-polyester labels.
The journey these suits take from cradle to store shelf is so convoluted however (wool is shipped from Australia to Italy where it is dyed and spun, then send to China where the suit is assembled with the recycled polyester lining from a plant in Japan, to be finally shipped back to the UK and sold), that we wonder how sustainable they really are.
Match your suit or casual wear with some seriously vegan-friendly shoes by German shoemaker Noah, these made of Micronappa and cork insoles and selling for 164 euros (check out the sales on their website).
For more casual foot gear, slip on a pear of these leather-free “Shark” pimsoles, a line produced in collaboration with the University of Miami’s R.J Dunlap Marine Conservation Program. The shoes feature silhouettes of the carnivorous—and threatened—beastie on the lining of each shoe.
Proceeds from the sale of the shoes will go towards protecting sharks and their marine environment. Other shoes in the collection feature natural hemp, organic cotton, and/or recycled polyester. It’s nice that their boxes are made from 80% recycled post-consumer waste and are printed with soy ink too. And, like always, with every pair your purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a disadvantaged child.
For cooler-climate outerwear keep warm in this this zip down sweater-jacket by Patagonia, made with 100% recycled soda bottles, unusable second quality fabrics and worn out garments. Yes you might be wearing a heap of trash but that’s the point!