Our allegiance to buying cheap clothes has taken an immense toll on our environment. It’s the reason why the fashion industry is now responsible for 10 per cent of the entire planet’s carbon emissions – making it the second-most polluting industry in the world.
But eco-consciousness isn’t where our social responsibility as shoppers stops. Weeks of performative activism shown by countless brands in support of BLM have demonstrated the need to really vet the labels we’re shopping. After all, what good is a vague anti-racist Instagram statement when you’re mistreating and underpaying factory workers mostly comprised of black and brown women? (Hi, Fashion Nova).
For that reason, we’ve decided to do the vetting for you. These are a few of our favourite brands that are both eco-friendly and actively anti-racist.
Above all, Atelier Mundane is sustainable. The Iraqi London-based label uses upcycled materials and vegan leathers to create their collections. And they’re anything but silent when it comes to social issues. Most recently, the label created and sold triple-layered washable masks with all proceeds going to Mercy Bakery, a volunteer-run Yemeni organization that provides free bread to Yemeni people.
Fashion is and has been notoriously racist, and as a Black celebrity stylist, that reality was very clear to Jason Rembert. In 2019, Rembert took matters into his own hands and launched his own label, Aliette, which has already been worn by the likes of Ezra Miller and Issa Rae (who exclusively wears Black designers on every occasion).
Looking for a new bag? Asata Maise’s patchworked pieces are a must-buy. The designer began her label using colourful fabrics to create one-of-a-kind bags. Eventually, she delved into everything from dresses, jackets, and bucket hats. The young black designer sources her vintage fabrics from Etsy and eBay, and if not, she supports small businesses by buying from local fabric shops.
There’s no reason for anyone to buy his or her basics at fashion conglomerates whilst Alya Wanek exists. Whether it’s a white T-shirt or a go-to little black dress, , you’ll find it here. The brand, founded by a black woman, is known for its representation of women of colour. They’re ultra-sustainable too, working with only natural fibres and paying a living-wage to small batch production companies, as well as using zero-waste packaging.
Come Back as a Flower
Looking for your new favourite sweater? Your search ends at Come Back as a Flower. The Black-owned label makes all of their pieces with 100 per cent recycled cotton, with everything hand-dyed and ethically produced in Los Angeles.
One and Four Studio
Sustainability is One and Four’s primary mission. The brand sources ethical fabrics, and their designs use minimal amounts of product. They’re also unisex. The brand was also one of few to speak out against racism in the region, with its founder, Engy Mahdy offering free consulting services to young black creators.
When it comes to shoe manufacturers, sustainability seems far-fetched. But, Brother Veillies does it, without compromising one bit on styles. Founded in 2013 by Ghanaian-Canadian designer Aurora James, the label’s aim is to safeguard African design practices, and they do it sustainably. They use vegetable-tanned leathers, soling from recycled tires, hand carved wood, floral dyed feathers, among other environmentally friendly, and ethically-produced materials.