Ethical Latin American Fashion Brands We Love

These ethical Latin American fashion brands are helping people – and the planet

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Latin America’s famous for so much! Its  fabulous music, from salsa and samba to bossa nova. Its jaw-dropping landscapes, like Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the Galapagos islands. Plus, its sexy, friendly people, great food, and famous festivals.

But now we can add something to the list of things to love- sustainable Latin American fashion brands!

What Makes Latin American Fashion Ethical?

Latin America has a rich tradition in textile making and weaving. It’s still considered to be the developing world, so many textiles are still produced by cooperatives and native groups. When you purchase traditionally made Latin American fashion, you’re supporting those enterprises and peoples.

Many creators take great pride in their ancestors’ cloth-making techniques. These include: weaving, braiding, spinning and hand dyeing, to name a few. The incredible quality of the resulting products means they’ll last for generations.

But there are other reasons ethical Latin American fashion brands should be on your radar, too.

Image below: Gabriela Hearst

Ethical Latin American Fashion Brands

Sustainable Latin American Materials

From the finest Pima cotton to the world’s most expensive fabric, vicuña, there are plenty of sustainable Latin American fabrics that make many brands from this region eco-friendly.

For example, alpaca wool comes from the sweet, docile animals of the same name. While some larger, more industrial fashion houses such as Sol Alpaca or Kuna have been accused of abusing these gentle creatures, more artisanal creators shave their animals only once a year, as gently as possible. In case you’re still concerned, you should know that the Responsible Alpaca Standard (RAS) is a new certification that ensures alpaca welfare. And yes, it was set up in Latin America!

Even normal sheep wool from this region is more likely to come from free-range sheep that are raised in the mountains of Patagonia or the Andes. In fact, the first ever certified wildlife-safe wool comes from South America. (Read more about that here).

Plant Based Dyes 

Colouring textiles with natural dyes has a long history in Latin America. For example, in Peru, a wide variety of plants, including tara, mote mote and anchancaray are used to create dyes for clothing. Other, not-so-exotic methods are used, too. These include iron oxide, beetroot, cabbage, onion skin and turmeric.

Many ethical Latin American fashion brands continue to preserve these techniques, and that’s a good thing! We all have good reason to be concerned about the ecological and health impact of synthetic dyes.

A Sense Of Responsibility

One advantage many ethical Latin American fashion brands have is their dedication to working with certification groups that recognise the effort they put into their work.

For example, you’ll find that many of these fashion labels are certified Fair Trade (which ensures no workers are exploited), GOTS (which governs the process of growing and processing organic cotton) or, as mentioned, Certified Wildlife Friendly Fibres.

We always knew Latinas had style. But we had no idea just how ethical Latin American fashion could be until now! Here are some of the best, most ethical brands we found, from sunny Mexico to sultry Argentina.

Image below: VOZ

10+ Ethical Latin American Fashion Brands

ethical Latin American fashion brands

1. Peruvian Connection

Think Peruvian fashion is all about the baby alpaca sweaters and shawls? Think again! Peruvian Connection uses the best materials of the country. Sure, that includes alpaca, yes. But they also use non-GMO Pima cotton, Tencel, and even straw!

The result is a boho collection of everything from light jumpers and floaty dresses to oversized hats and yes – sweaters and shawls, too!

Ethics: Natural materials. Local sourcing of materials and manufacturing.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Natural fibres that comprise loose, easy-fitting Bohemian clothing.

Price range: Medium

peruvian connection

2. VOZ, Chile

This Chilean based label is one of our favourite ethical Latin American fashion brands! First reason: they make beautiful clothing from natural materials, like alpaca, regional silk and Pima cotton. Secondly, their designs are eternally chic and beautifully cut and draped. Thirdly, they’re dedicated to revitalising ancient weaving techniques that are indigenous to the Southern Chilean region.

Their Mapuche master weavers infuse each of their collaborative designs with symbols from their family traditions, and are fairly (and regularly) paid for doing so.

Ethics: The brand uses sustainable materials and helps indigenous women earn a fair living.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Truly elegant clothing with an artistic edge

Price range: High

voz chile

3. Gabriela Hearst, Uruguay

Launched in 2015, publishing heiress Gabriela Hearst’s label has gone from strength to strength. Not only has her brand been dubbed the ‘American Hermes’ due to its superior quality garments, but it has also gained a plethora of celeb fans such as the likes of Nicole Kidman, Brie Larson and Demi Moore.

Every item is crafted at the hands of skilled South American artisans. Natural fibres, including silk, leather, linen and wool from her family’s massive Uruguayan ranch, are used to make each piece.

Bonus: all her packaging is bioplastic, which biodegrades quickly. In fact, Hearst herself is apparently committed to living a plastic-free and zero-waste life.

Ethics: Natural materials and biodegradable packaging.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Modern designs with a great ethos

Price range: High

gabriela hearst

4. Manos Zapotecas, Mexico

This is a platform that connects artisans with new markets, helps to spread the artistry of the Mexican region and its Zapotec people, empowering communities through Fair Trade.

For example, in an ancient rural village near Oaxaca in Mexico, skilled artisans have been hand crafting woven products for generations. Manos Zapotecas has brought together these top quality, handwoven products to socially conscious buyers across the world. This ethical Latin American fashion brand always ensures the weavers receive a fair price for their intensive labour.

Ethics: Handcrafting traditions. Indigenous people paid a fair wage. Mainly natural materials. Certified B Corp.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Accessories with an ethnic edge.

Price range: Low to medium

ethical Latin American fashion brands

5. Jaline Resort, Mexico

Made in Mexico by local artisans Lidia and Sara, all the textiles used by Jaline resort are either natural silk or hand loomed in 100% cotton.
This is one of the few ethical Latin American fashion brands that not only produces clothing, but gorgeous homeware, too.
For example, they offer crochet tablecloths, pillow cases and table runners for your house. And to make you look absolutely stunning on holiday, there are floaty silk dresses, kimonos and jumpsuits.
The founder of the brand is proud of the changes she’s made to her workers’ lives. For example, the two above-mentioned women opened their first bank accounts in 2017, and bought their first cars in 2019!
Ethics: Indigenous women are employed with fair wages. Natural materials.
One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Stunning resort wear, and rustic homeware items
Price range: Medium
Jaline Resort, Mexico

6. Nido, Argentina

Argentina isn’t just full of gorgeous men and cattle – there are plenty of sheep there, too!

Nido uses these free range fluffies to create its simple, handmade knitwear. Spun and dyed in the old-fashioned way in small batches, Nido uses traditional tools and the knitting skills that local women inherited from their grandmothers to create warm and wooly sweaters and accessories. They also use organic cotton to make their garments for the warmer months.

Nido only uses natural dyes. And as a result of this artisanal process, every Nido garment is a bit different; it’s special and unique because it is handmade from beginning to end.

Ethics: Natural materials and dyes. Elderly women who would otherwise be out of work are paid a fair wage for their knitting.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Ethically made knitwear for men, women and even children.

Price range: Medium

nido argentina

7. PAKA, Peru

Taking inspiration from a time when we really connected with the earth and our surroundings, PAKA is a brand born on the outskirts of Cusco, Peru. This is another of those ethical Latin American fashion brands that supports Peruvian women by enabling them to share their craft with the world whilst earning a living doing so.

Their comfy knits alpaca and Pima cotton knits not only play homage to generations of artistry, but they’re also three times lighter than sheep’s wool. And with a slew of celebrity fans, from Chance The Rapper and band The Chainsmokers, Peruvian women and their artisanal traditions are truly becoming globally recognised for the artistic works they create.

Ethics: Local materials. Indigenous women are employed and paid a fair wage.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Modern, warm casual wear for every day.

Price range: Medium

paka peru

8. Dauntless Clothing, Colombia

Woohoo! Finally, a vegan Latin American fashion brand!

This NYC based (but Colombian-made) outerwear brand says it ethically makes all of its vegan-friendly fabrics. These are then crafted into unisex sneakers, jackets and coats.

They say:

“We use water-borne and solvent-free polyurethanes, using less energy and water and no solvents to create these fabrics. We are aware that the synthetic substitutes we use may have some environmental issues. However, according to EP&L standards and regulations, the majority of the impact associated with synthetic fibers is due to processing oil into yarn. We are researching and working on more alternative ways to diminish the effect of these substitute materials.”

As for their producers, they say:

“We employ women who are heads of households and support their families while utilizing Fair Trade standards.”

This seems to be one of the most conscious Latina vegan fashion brands out there, anyway!

Ethics: Vegan fabrics. Only women are employed, under Fair Trade conditions.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Vegan wear that’s actually sustainable.

Price range: Medium.

ethical Latin American fashion brands

9. Carolina K, Argentina

Argentinian designer Carolina Kleinman is helping to preserve the artisanal traditions of indigenous people through her handmade pieces. She employs artisans in remote areas of the world such as Peru, Mexico and India to make hand-embroidered details on her beautiful clothing.

Alongside this, they launched a zero-waste initiative to make use of every last scrap of fabric.

Carolina says: “Since launching our brand in 2005, we have been committed to creating sustainably made products while supporting artisans across Latin America. From our brand’s inception, we envisioned working with a collective of artisans in remote regions of Latin America and we are honoured that we get the opportunity to work with them to this day all year round. We strive to empower and uplift these communities of women and men and are dedicated to preserving their ancestral techniques that have been used over generations.”

Ethics: Zero waste and ancestral garment making techniques. Artisans in remote areas are employed.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Feminine fashions with awesome patterns and close attention to detail

Price range: High

ethical Latin American fashion brands

10. Armando Takeda, Mexico

This is another of our ethical Latin American fashion brands that works with indigenous people. Namely, the Huichol and Purepecha people of Mexico. The designer has learned about ancient weaving techniques and the use of natural dyeing by living and working in the villages of indigenous peoples.

With their permission, and by paying them fairly for their work, he then merges their heritage with the highest quality fabrics from around the world to create high-fashion pieces crafted from culture and innovation.

Ethics: Preservation of ancient weaving techniques. Fair Trade work standards. Natural materials and dyes.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: High fashion made in Mexico

Price range: Medium

ethical Latin American fashion brands

11. OSKLEN, Brazil 

Osklen is a contemporary Brazilian clothing and accessories brand. And sustainability is at the core of this trendy company.

Osklen is proud that the design and development of all their collections follow strict guidelines that respect local communities and the environment.

For example, their sneakers come in chrome-free tracked and certified bovine leather. The soles come from the Amazon and recycled waste rubber.

Ethics: Recycled and natural materials used. Artisans receive a fair wage.

One of the best ethical Latin American fashion brands for: Sneakers and streetwear – styles are often unisex

Price range: Low to medium

ethical Latin American fashion brands

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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