Prediction: we believe these small sustainable luxury brands are about to become huge!
By Katy Caric
In the dog-eat-dog world of the fashion industry, competition is fiercer than ever for designers and manufactures looking to make a lasting impact on potential customers. Today, the trend seems to be leaning more and more towards sustainability, and consumers are looking toward smaller clothing companies for niche garments that are more ethical and eco-friendly than the products most fashion brands produce.
Though this is an outstanding opportunity for small sustainable luxury brands, there can be little doubt that the likes of Stella McCartney, EDUN, Maiyet and Mara Hoffman are still dominating the market. These are all huge names in luxury fashion – and they have huge financial backers to help them maintain their market share. So, how can the smaller sustainable luxury brands get some attention?
Certainly, it’s not easy being an independent fashion label, but when you’re collections are big on style and small on environmental impact, you’re bound to attract a following for yourself.
Here, I’ve found 10 small sustainable luxury brands that I think will grow to Stella-like proportions over the next few years.
Check them out below – would you agree?
10 Small Sustainable Luxury Brands
1. By Walid
Are you a bit of a collector? A fan of textile design? You’ll love this small sustainable luxury brand!
British-Iraqi designer Walid Damirji creates artisan-made, bohemian clothing from luxurious vintage textiles and antique fabrics he sources from around the world.
For example? This collection below is comprised of beautiful vintage linen from the 1920’s, 19th-century Chinese silks, and repurposed Chinoiserie Spanish shawls. Who wouldn’t love to wear a bit of history?
2. Fool Dost
Organic cotton, banana based viscose, and nutra-seed cotton are just a few of the natural fibres used by this elegant and sustainable label. Fool Dost offers a luxurious yet minimalist take on Indian dressing, from the naturally breathable fibres to the endlessly wearable silhouettes.
But this label isn’t just sustainable; it’s ethical, too. In order to combat the typical exploitation of Indian textile workers, Fool Dost has partnered with MasterG India, and organisation that helps promote a more eco-friendly, transparent and ethical system of garment manufacturing.
Born in post-socialist Hungary, designer Dori Tomcsanyi is influenced by two seemingly contradictory themes: life in the former Soviet Union, and modern, cutting-edge design. Sustainability and CSR are at the core of this playful brand – everything is produced fairly in Budapest using sustainable materials sourced from small Italian manufacturers.
But what we love most is the incredible use of playful patterns – from oversized flowers and plants to graphic designs, there’s something they print that will make you smile!
4. Made By Voz
The mission of Voz is to protect the rural indigenous women in South America, The label proudly empowers the artisans who make their garments with steady economic growth and better education for their children.
Voz runs its main rural artisan education centre in Temuco, Chile, and also provides design and leadership training for indigenous women in their own communities.
We love their loose and easy styles, their natural dyes, and noble fibres, like alpaca.
A brand for someone who loves to travel? Sign me up!
Kilometre Paris was specifically created for women with wanderlust – their artisanal embroidery allows you to get a wee taste of exotic destinations, and each piece is made from rare, vintage linen.
Launched by Jalouse magazine founder Alexandra Senes, the label works with ethically paid artisans in Mexico and India to bring Senes’s illustrated travel to-do list to life.
6. St. Roche
After leaving Alexander McQueen, designer Sue Stemp set out to create consciously designed clothing for everyday wear. The result is St. Roche, an endlessly stylish brand with great ethics.
They partner with manufacturers in India and Peru that are known for their fair and ethical practices. Whenever possible, the fabrics are GOTS-certified, organically grown, and locally woven cotton, biodegradable, and sustainable.
And did I mention that their delicately feminine, beautifully draped styles are to die for?
This is one of my favourite small sustainable luxury brands! Slightly mysterious, dark and a bit exotic, Australian label KitX merges modern, edgy design with seductive style. The brand, created by Kit Willow, is committed to being an example of sustainable design, so every textile used has a traceable production history, and comes from a supplier who makes certified organic, recycled or natural materials through fair labour practices.
Though a zero carbon footprint is virtually unattainable, Willow believes there are many ways in which fashion can lessen its impact. And that’s true down to the smallest details. Case in point: After discovering that the recycled PET labels she had been using were releasing tiny plastic particles when washed, she promptly switched to linen tags this season.
8. Uzma Bozai
Growing up in New York, designer Uzma Bozai spent her childhood summers in the Indian subcontinent, and was inspired by the indigenous artisan culture of creating garments with hand embroidery and embellishments. After moving to London, she decided to support artisan communities by combining her love of London’s quirky fashion scene and the artisanal crafts she’d grown to love, and her eponymous brand was born.
Today, each limited edition style she comes up with is hand embellished by fairly paid craftsmen and women. We love the new Frida Collection, a tribute to the designer’s favourite artist.
Whether it’s rain-fed cotton bought at a fair price from local farmers, or upcycling post-production manufacturing waste, Lilabare always considers the socio-economic and environmental impact of all the casual, chic and sexy garments they create.
In addition, Lilabare creates crystal jewellery from ethically sourced stones (from local Kenyan mines). Independent artisans hand-hammer pendants, buttons and details using solid brass from old machinery.
In Peruvian prisons, bored female inmates (who are usually imprisoned for non-violent crimes) often sit around knitting. Aware of this, Danish brand Carcel decided it would be a good idea for these women to be fairly paid for their handicrafts, and Carcel was born.
Creating classic items like track pants, pullovers and tees from ethically sourced baby alpaca wool, these women can support themselves, send their children to school, save up for a crime-free future, ultimately, breaking the cycle of poverty.