Gucci? Prada? Nope. These sustainable luxury fashion brands are way more beautiful – and ethical!
By Amma Aburam
Luxurious sustainable fashion brands used to be something of an oxymoron. I mean, remember when ‘sustainable fashion brands’ meant loose, multi-coloured hippy pants and scratchy sweaters? Those days are well and truly over, as designers across the fashion industry are taking the leap to produce eco-friendlier and sustainability conscious clothes that are beautifully tailored and draped, from sumptuous materials that not only feel amazing against the skin, but also do good for the planet.
Here, I’ve found some seriously luxurious sustainable fashion brands whose ‘luxe factors’ are found in their commitment to create beautiful styles constructed from the most exquisite of natural materials such as vicuña, peace silk and Orange Fiber, all assembled by fairly paid, highly skilled artisans – often by hand.
After all, if attention to detail and exquisite fabrics don’t define luxury fashion, what does?
15 Seriously Luxurious Sustainable Fashion Brands
1. Mara Hoffman
Some may not realise that this well known designer has gone full on ethical. After all, she’s been making mainly summery, beachy clothes for almost two decades.
But in recent years, Mara Hoffman has transitioned her label to be as sustainable as possible by crafting each collection in socially responsible conditions using ethically sourced and recycled fabrics. As if that weren’t enough, all of her casual-luxury fashion collections are now fully vegan, too.
Looking for luxuriously casual, rich girl fashion you can wear almost anywhere? Look no further! Ninety Percent is a relatively new label that’s dedicated to using materials like 100% organic cotton, Tencel and hemp to make leisure wear that’s so comfortable, you can practically live in it!
So…why is it called Ninety Percent when it’s collections are 100% sustainable, you may ask? Well, that’s because a whopping 90% of its profits are given to charities around the globe.
If you’ve seen more covetable clothing on the red carpets these days, it’s probably because more celebs are being dressed by Amur. Of all the luxurious sustainable fashion brands here, this glamorous label has become a top favourite with the likes of Alexis Bledel, Elizabeth Hurley, Nicole Richie and other A-listers, who love not only the incredible draping and feminine frills Amur provides, but the fact that these stunning garments are crafted from natural silk, hemp, linen and organic cotton.
This brand has gone from strength to strength for several reasons: not only has it been called the ‘America Hermes’ due to its superior quality garments, but it has also had celebrity fans including Nicole Kidman, Brie Larson and Demi Moore (amongst many others), who love the label for its all natural fibres, bioplastic packaging, and for its use of female artisans who help to hand-make many of the garments.
The brand also ensures its wearers are protected from mobile phone and mast radiation – it uses an anti-radiation fabric that shields against these harmful wavelength. Their resort collection also introduced an aloe-treated linen that can moisturize the skin.
Silk, organic cotton, linen and hemp are just some of the sustainable fabrics employed by this brand, whose name means ‘charming wolf’. Their style is easy, breezy and beachy, with billowy sleeves, loose waist-lines and flowing, feminine ruffles featuring heavily in their latest collection. The brand also makes organic cotton and silk sleepwear, which is almost gorgeous enough to wear outside!
6. Flor et. al
Every time I see this brand, I can’t help but think of what Serena and Blair would wear in Gossip Girl. These tops, trousers and dresses wouldn’t at all look out of place on the Upper-East Side in New York, or in the bistros of Paris. In fact, of of all the luxurious sustainable fashion brands here, this may well be my personal favourite.
Made by well-paid craftsmen around the world as well small artisans in India to create the hand beaded floral designs, flor et. al’s collections are even more ethical since they partnered with NEST, a non-profit that connects artisans and designers all over the globe.
Talk about girl power! Zero + Maria Cornejo is a company owned and operated by women. Chilean born Maria Cornejo founded the brand in 1998 by turning a space in New York city into a personal atelier.
From its inception, the brand has aimed at developing special collaborations with women artisans from around the world. Not only does the brand empower women, 70% of its garments are produced in the heart of New York’s garment district, while the rest is produced in independently owned factories in Italy.
No one knows sustainable luxury fashion quite like Maiyet. The brand draws from some of the rarest skills and traditions in garment making to create fashion like no other. One of its signature garment making techniques is applique, a textile embellishment skill mastered in various regions of India.
The label is super ethical in its practices, too, and partners with global artisans and works with NEST, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing artisan businesses. The brand has a real dedication to true craftsmanship, design and excellent service.
Stella McCartney is a shining example of how a high-end luxury fashion brand can successfully build an empire based on ethical practices. As the first 100% vegetarian fashion company committed to 0% animal cruelty, the brand has spent years coming up with the best leather alternatives and has done a great job incorporating these into its collections.
Stella herself is inspired by a realistic approach to sustainable luxury fashion and understands how achieving full sustainability is a continuous journey that will eventually envelop all aspects of its supply chain.
Cienne’s minimalistic, universally flattering styles are created from globally sourced, all natural materials. Championed by Nicole Heim, the brand works with artisans from around the world and ethically assembles its collections at the heart of New York’s garment district.
Nicole is known to travel the world to meet and learn from the artisans her brand works with. For example, a trip to Bolivia to unearthed the secrets of the country’s locally sourced alpaca (as seen in the sweater in our main image), as well as traditional Bolivian weaving practices. We love the attention to detail she gives to each piece she designs.
Luxurious and affordable sustainable fashion? That defines this brand, which boasts clean, beautiful designs that wouldn’t be out of place at say, Hermès or Donna Karan. But unlike those two labels, this one is focused on sustainability in various ways; for example, by choosing fabric manufacturers and factories close to each other to minimize the carbon footprint from shipping.
Of course, their soft, perfectly draped fabrics are all 100% eco-friendly – Merino wool and cashmere sweaters are sourced and manufactured the Italian countryside and inner Mongolia, respectively.
12. Tome NYC
Tome’s founders Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin wanted to go beyond typical sustainability. The brand used one of its key items, the white shirt, to as its standard for social and environmental sustainability in its production. The White Shirt Project started in collaboration with Katie Ford’s foundation, Freedom For All, which fights human trafficking and slavery.
This challenged the designers to re-examine their supply chain and standard of production. Since then, they incorporate sustainable practices throughout their supply chain by visiting the women who work for them in factories, consistently monitoring their supply chain and producing locally to reduce pollution. The collections feature modern dirndl designs, and beautiful silks and cottons.
13. Bamford Organics
The 100% natural clothing, as well as skin and body care products of this brand appeal to the British elite. Founder Carol Bamford is inspired by and uses the finest natural fibres from organic and botanic ingredients for both clothes and body care products.
Their philosophy based on the notions of timelessness and purity, and this is reflected in their classically beautiful collections. Items are made thanks to and through some of the best artisans in the world with materials such as 100% cotton, linen and silk.
14. Dai London
This recently-launched British brand features elegant tailoring of high tech, sustainable fabrics, such as Italian sourced Sensitive ® Fabrics. Their raw materials are Oeko-Tex ® and/or REACH certified whenever possible, too.
In addition to working with these eco-friendly materials, the brand is also ethical: they’ve partnered with Dress for Success Greater London, a chapter of the global non-profit
organisation that sartorially helps women in need of employment.
15. Gillian June
Cashmere, wool and cotton are but a few of the rich, elegant materials used by this jacket-specialist brand. Each one of a kind piece makes a strong statement, and this British design house is only too happy to take bespoke orders. The philosophy behind the brand is to offer only a few items each season, meaning there’s no deadstock waste.
Amma Aburan is an ex fast-fashion shopaholic turned sustainable fashion enthusiast and founder of StyleandSustain.com. All images courtesy the brands. First and second images: Flor et al
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