Over the course of the past year and a half, I have been focusing on downsizing my wardrobe and being more conscious of where I buy from. My closet contains less than a quarter of the clothing I started with – these were donated to local charities – and what has been recently purchased has, by and large, come from the companies below or from second hand stores such as Value Village. While there has been active debate over wether or not truly sustainable shopping is truly possible, the fact remains that clothing expenses remain a huge part of an average Canadian individual’s monthly budget and are a source of debt for many.
To me, sustainable clothes shopping is about buying less, buying secondhand whenever possible, and putting the money I do spend on new items towards companies with missions I can endorse. Causes I get behind include but aren’t limited to:
- Eco-friendly and sustainable processes (from fabric sourcing and manufacturing to transportation and sales)
- Ethically-treated animals (I do wear merino wool, cashmere [neither of these should invoke harm to the animal] and some carefully-selected leather)
- Locally-produced clothing, fair and/or direct-trade international partnerships (which, ideally, ensure good working conditions, fair wages, better life quality and more opportunities for workers abroad)
It’s not about “perfection”. My very favourite bras come from Victoria’s Secret. I still own some conventionally-made clothing. 😉 It’s all a process, and one I enjoy a fair bit.
Without further ado, I present the [short]list of companies I prefer to buy from. This is primarily centred on womenswear, although there are a few menswear companies I’ve thrown in as well.
- Canadian Clothing
Miik – eco-friendly, sustainable, fabrics dyed and milled in Toronto.
Encircled – Versatile travel wear. Eco friendly, sustainable. Made in Toronto.
Two Birds Apparel – sustainable, eco and organic fabrics. Based in Vancouver; presently menswear-only, insofar as I can tell.
- Non-Canadian Clothing
Icebreaker – performance/athletic wear. Ethically-sourced merino wool. New Zealand.
Everlane – affordable, fair and direct-trade luxury fabrics. Cotton, silk, cashmere.
La Canadienne – ethically-sourced leather. Montreal.
Keen – performance and travel footwear. Committed to carbon-reduction and sustainability.
Thinx (may be NSFW) – a brand of “period panties” that emphasizes creating opportunities for Ugandan women. Made in the USA.
Dear Kate (also possibly NSFW) – panties for performance, periods, incontinence, etc. They have lines ranging from sporty to fancy. Very body positive, too! Made in the USA.