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THE 7 MOST STYLISH SUSTAINABLE FASHION BRANDS

The fast fashion industry has grown tremendously since the 1990s, fueled by demand for quick delivery, low prices, and ever-changing fashion trends. For many companies, keeping pace with the industry has meant cutting as many corners as possible.

But rapid consumption comes at a cost—excessive carbon emissions, environmentally damaging chemicals, poor wages, and unsafe working conditions are part and parcel of fast fashion. Sustainability and ethical production often fall by the wayside.

Luckily, some fashion brands strive to do better by paying careful attention to their environmental impact and influence in the industry. Sustainable clothing companies allow you to feel confident in your style while proudly wearing a label that cares about the planet and its people.

What makes a fashion brand sustainable? There’s a lot that goes into eco-friendly design, so we’ll break it down and showcase designers that are committed to doing things the right way—without forsaking style.

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION?

The fashion industry’s carbon footprint is undeniable, but textile waste from unsustainable materials and practices can be just as harmful. Whether it's the water used in the production process or the waste created by dyeing fabric and tanning leather, minimizing environmental harm requires meticulous attention and innovation.

Most sustainable clothing brands face these challenges head-on always striving to do better. There are three major aspects that brands often focus on in the quest to become more eco-friendly:

Natural materials

Sustainable fabrics are often derived from natural plant fibers or recycled materials like deadstock fabric to create something new or organic cotton, linen, silk, Tencel, modal, or recycled polyester that would otherwise be discarded.

Sourcing high-quality fabrics and materials is a great way for sustainable brands to control their environmental impact. By choosing natural fabrics, designers reduce the introduction of harsh chemicals and microplastics into the environment.

Less waste

Developing a sustainable supply chain takes years of research and development. Brands must examine each stage of their product development and determine how each step can be reworked to reduce waste. This could be achieved by improving shipping methods, using less packaging, or opting for materials that require less water. Brands can also manufacture items in small batches or on a made-to-order basis.

Long-term commitment

Eco-conscious consumers are after more than a one-off Earth Day campaign—they want the lasting impact that comes from carbon-neutral systems, regenerative farming, lower water usage, and reduced landfill waste. It might seem like a tall order, but many brands are eager to comply. 

Brands that are truly committed to sustainability don’t launch just a single eco-friendly pair of sneakers, they continue refining their production methods and abandoning old wasteful practices. The best sustainable brands are crystal clear on their vision and can back up their initiatives through impact reports and credible collaborations.

7 SUSTAINABLE BRANDS

Luxury brands' collections set a precedent for the rest of the industry through a profound respect for artistry, fair wages, and quality construction. One brand’s decisions can hold others accountable and set new standards for everyone. Here are seven sustainable luxury brands that aim to make a difference:

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney is celebrated for creating vegan-friendly and ethical fashion with materials like mushroom-based leather and organic cotton. From exquisite outerwear to bio-acetate sunglasses, the brand eschews leather, feathers, and fur to provide luxurious options for those who don't wear animal products. Using an impact measurement metric called Environmental Profit and Loss, the brand measures its environmental impact and makes more sustainable decisions in its operations.

NAADAM

NAADAM Fair Isle Turtleneck Sweater

Featuring gorgeously knit oversized turtlenecks in rich colorways alongside creamy cashmere sweaters and dresses, NAADAM prides itself on sustainable natural fabrics. An impact report on the brand’s website lays out its five-year plan and previous accomplishments regarding traceable and renewable materials, ethical animal care, and steps toward becoming carbon neutral.

VEJA

After releasing its first pair of sneakers in 2005, VEJA has taken the shoe world by storm. Its subtle, minimalist motifs are reason enough for the brand’s success, but its genuine commitment to sustainable manufacturing takes the company over the top. The label earned B corp certification, indicating it meets the highest verified environmental and social standards. VEJA uses recycled polyester, recycled cotton, fair-trade organic cotton, and sustainable rubber grown in the Amazon rainforest.

Eileen Fisher

Founded in 1984, Eileen Fisher designs timeless pieces that create the foundation for an elegant wardrobe. The label has always placed sustainable practices at the forefront, using undyed wool to produce sweaters in natural shades, as well as implementing organic cotton and responsibly dyed silk. The brand developed a take-back program in 2016 that invites customers to return old pieces so they can be transformed into new ones.

DL1961

DL1961 Patti High-Rise Vintage Ankle Straight Jeans

Many eco-conscious consumers know it takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to produce the cotton needed for a single pair of jeans, but what’s the alternative? That’s where DL1961 comes in. The family-run brand calls itself The Circular Denim Company, using waterless technology to produce and finish its divine denim from recycled materials with less than 10 gallons of water.

Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman Sloan Textured Colorblock Midi Dress

Mara Hoffman features beautifully colored and textured dresses and swimwear made entirely from recycled materials. The label is committed to choosing materials with intention, prioritizing organic fabrics and recycled fibers. Mara Hoffman considers each worker a part of the team, conducting regular factory tours to ensure working conditions are safe and everyone is paid fairly and treated with respect.

Another Tomorrow

Another Tomorrow creates sophisticated ready-to-wear clothing that never goes out of style. With structured silhouettes and well-tailored suiting, each piece is designed to be cherished forever. Another Tomorrow strives to limit the waste produced at each stage of its supply chain by using only plant-based materials from responsibly managed forests.

HOW TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE IN FASHION

Less is more

When it comes to buying clothing and being sustainable—less is more. It's easy to get swept up in trends and pieces you took a chance on, leaving you with a wardrobe full of clothes you’ll never wear. Instead, only select pieces that complement your figure, personality, and individual aesthetic. Timeless garments and wardrobe staples are excellent additions to any closet, and they can be mixed, matched, and accessorized for endless possibilities.

Read labels carefully

Things aren't always what they seem. A cursory glance could miss that those trendy cotton jeans are blended with synthetic fibers. Check labels to ensure you get exactly what you're looking for. Choose natural fibers to avoid microplastics, and pick brands that are mindful of their dyeing and bleaching techniques.

Give your clothes a second life

Just because you're not wearing that dress in the back of your closet doesn't mean someone else won't. Luxury consignment stores specialize in finding a new home for pre-loved apparel. Alternatively, gift unworn garments to family or plan a clothing exchange with friends. Either way, you'll walk away feeling better about your footprint. 

At Neiman Marcus, we’re finding smarter ways to reduce our impact on the planet, like partnering with Give Back Box to make donating your gently used clothing easier, and offering amenities, such as alterations and accessories refurbishment to extend the life of your valued items. Visit NeimanMarcus.com/Services to find out how, together, we can make a difference.

QUALITY FASHION FOR ANY AESTHETIC

Neiman Marcus values sustainability, and we're always on the lookout for new luxury labels with a low environmental impact. For more sustainable clothes and luxury goods, visit our new arrivals section.