Do you need a new dress for spring or summer weather? Here are some lovely fashion pieces made by ethical, sustainable designers. As Margaret Badore wrote for TreeHugger last year, “Slow fashion is about knowing the story of clothes. It’s about knowing where our clothes came from and who made them. It’s about the celebration of personal style instead of chasing trends. It’s about having a few good pieces.” These are good pieces, the kinds of dresses that last a long time, that hold their shape, that support ethical manufacturing, and will be worth the money you pay.
1. Kelli Cold Shoulder Sexy Mini Dress, $85
LA Relaxed uses sustainable, recycled, and organic materials to manufacture its clothing in California. The dress pictured above is made of Tencel, a fabric that is regenerated from the wood cellulose of eucalyptus trees, using no old growth forests, genetic manipulation, irrigation, or pesticides. Tencel is considered more sustainable than either bamboo or rayon. The fiber is produced through a “closed-loop solvent spinning process” and the supply chain is transparent.
2. Florinda Bamboo Maxi Dress Online, $87
Braintree’s subtitle on its website reads “Thoughtful Clothing,” which explains the company’s caring approach to sourcing and manufacturing. It strives to consider every aspect of a piece of clothing’s journey and minimize its footprint by using natural, recycled, organic, and regenerated materials.
3. Book Club Dress by Mata Traders, $79
VILANYAS acts as an “eco-fashion marketplace,” selling beautiful sustainable and ethical products from other producers in its online dress shop. It has plenty of options, lots of different styles, great sales, and a variety of categories, including fair trade, which is the enticing factor in the lovely “Book Club” dress pictured above.
4. Tilly Dress, $125
Liz Alig is a fair-trade fashion retailer that uses interesting recycled and upcycled fabrics to make beautiful, comfortable, and functional clothes. The company believes in slow fashion: “Clothing taken back to its roots. Garments that may take months to make because the cotton was grown organically and hand woven into fabric then hand dyed and printed and next hand sewn.”
Fabrics used by Liz Alig include recycled sheets in Ghana that have hand-painted batik prints on them, recycled ikat and embroidered textiles in Central America, hand-woven and hand-block printed cotton in India, hand-woven silk from Cambodia, banana fiber in Nepal, and organic cotton in Bolivia.
5. Ryder Tank Dress, $48
All of Stormie Dream’s garments are designed and produced in Los Angeles, where workers are paid a higher-than-minimum wage. Fabrics are sourced sustainably, using leftover textiles and trims from other clothing manufacturers around LA that otherwise would go to landfill. The company used less water than usual by sourcing dye houses that adhere to strict sustainable practices. It even embraces a Zero Waste policy by turning scraps into kids’ clothing that is sent to orphanages in Africa.
6. Katy Dress in Blue Multi, $129
People Tree has been a pioneer in the field of ethical and sustainable fashion for more than 20 years. The UK-based company partners with artisans and manufacturers all around the world to produce its clothes. The dress pictured above is made of 97% organic cotton, 3% elastane, and is certified fair trade.
7. Luxe Drawstring Tunic, $109
Indigenous makes organic and certified fair-trade clothing for women and men and is proud of its transparent supply chain. According to The Good Trade, “The company uses organic cotton, free range alpaca and low-impact dyes to ensure their clothing has a positive impact on the planet and the wearer.” This dress is made of ultra-soft, double-knit organic cotton jersey fabric.
8. ReBirth Short Sleeve Shift Dress in Two Tone, $72
This company makes “vintage-style dresses” for women. The fabrics are colorful, bold, exotic, and definitely African, which is where the dresses are made. The company has a special collection called ReBirth that uses leftover, ethically sourced, high-quality wools and cottons from a nearby mill to make limited edition pieces.
9. Black and Gold Birds in Flight Trapeze Dress, $148
Symbology employs female artisans from India and the West Bank to make its unusual, gorgeous clothes. It strives to preserve traditional art forms in the way garments are made, from Indian block printing to Palestinian weaving to North American embroidery. The dress pictured above:
“This piece was hand-printed by fifth-generation women artisans in Rajasthan, India, using hand-carved wooden blocks dipped in pigment to create a classically beautiful piece with a twist.”