Ethical / Sustainable Menswear Brands

In recent years as I’ve set about rebuilding my wardrobe I’ve taken the “Buy less, Buy better” approach, investing in small quantities of quality pieces rather than buying cheap throwaway / trend driven items. My thought process up until now was that if I focussed on quality I’d save myself a few quid in the long run.

However, there is more to it than that. With the ever-increasing threat of climate change it’s never been more important to consider the effect our lifestyles and fashion habits are having on the planet. I’m no expert on the subject so rather than listen to me, check out this recent documentary by Stacey Dooley for the BBC, “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets“.

No one person is going to stop climate change over night but if we all make small steps towards sustainability that’s got to help right? With that said, here are my favourite brands who are also making steps towards a more ethical, sustainable world.

 


1. Asket

What are they doing?

Asket aren’t fashion insiders and that’s the way they’d like to keep it. They ignore the trend driven fast-fashion industry and focus instead on creating a ‘permanent wardrobe’ built from everyday essentials.

They’re also on a mission towards full traceability – an ambitious journey to break down every garment into its raw components, trace them back to their origin and put that information into the labels of each piece of clothing by the end of 2019.

Why is traceability important?

In order to fix any problem you must find the source of it right? Well by tracing each step along a garments production journey we get closer to knowing the true impact it has on our environment. The more traceable the process, the closer we can get to improving sustainability.

 


2. Organic Basics

What are they doing?

In their words “the fashion industry is a dirty bastard”. Organic Basics was created in 2015 by four Danish guys who wanted to change that. Today they’re committed to creating clothing that is basically better made. To OB this means using only class A & B fabrics and socially sustainable factories for the production of their garments. They ensure clothing is made by humans who are treated like humans.

They’ve also developed a Silvertech range which they describe as antibacterial and odorless, meaning you can wear their basics for longer without washing them.

Why is it important to wash smarter?

Apparently ⅔ of the environment impact of a piece of clothing is created in the consumer phase. While this is a large portion, Organic Basics point out that this could be good news as it means so much of the waste and pollution in the fashion industry is in our hands to improve. You can find some suggestions here to help wash smarter and reduce your environmental footprint.

 


3. Patagonia

What are they doing?

As well as being public advocates for animal welfare (they use recycled wool and down feathers and refrain from using leather, fur or angora) and making huge strides to be as environmentally friendly as possible (through the use of organic cotton and recycled materials including polyester, nylon, and wool), Patagonia are also leading the way when it comes to good labour policies.

In a 2017 study, Patagonia placed 2nd in a report into the payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment.

Why is transparency important?

Rather than just saying all the right things, transparency (as full as it can be) helps hold brands accountable and Patagonia embrace this challenge. It also allows them to eductae their consumers on their ethos, standards and efforts to do no unnecessary harm. They aren’t afraid to go out there and say “hey, we haven’t figured this out yet but are really trying and here’s how…”.

 


4. Nudie Jeans

What are they doing?

Since their launch in 2001, independently owned Swedish denim brand Nudie Jeans have been championing an awareness in conscious consumption and are at the forefront of changing the way we wear and understand our jeans. As well as being a member of the Fair Weave Foundation, working with Textile exchange and doing their part to help ‘mend the gap‘ in terms of fair minimum wage around the world, Nudie Jeans also offer free repairs for life and 20% off a new pair of jeans when you trade your old pair in.

How does their free repair and trade in incentive help?

The ‘jeanswear’ scene is commonly regarded as having one of the worst environmental and ethical footprints. That’s why Nudie Jeans attempts to fight fast fashion and encourage customers to Repair, Reuse, Recycle their jeans is a welcome sight and an important step forward.

 


Honourable mentions

Noah

Brendon Babenzien, the former creative director of Supreme and founder of Noah is quick to deny that his New York based brand is ‘sustainable’. Of course what he means is that it is not fully sustainable and that they are doing what they can to improve. They have written extensively about issues like pesticides and ocean pollution, and are constantly working to manufacture using sustainable practices.

NB : The care label on each Noah garment features a fact about the damage humans are doing to the ocean.

Veja

This French footwear brand use organic cotton and sustainable natural Amazonian rubber to make their sneakers, refusing to work with any leather manufacturers from the Amazon, where cattle farming has been a major contributor to deforestation. Not satisfied with this, they’ve  also released a full leather-free vegan range of shoes.

Filippa K

In 2010 the Scandinavian brand hired Elin Larsson as their Sustainability Director who went on to form the brands current sustainability commitments; a list of 5 commitments that Filippa K hope to achieve by 2030. These include only working with sustainable fabrics, making sure transparency and traceability are evident in the supply chain and becoming resource efficient (produce only what is needed and purchase the right amount of material to do so). The full list can be viewed here.

 


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