12 Sustainable Clothing Brands for People Who Love Color & Prints

posted in brand roundups

Author: Denise Caggio & Editorial Team

If you love colorful clothes but are still convinced that sustainable fashion is plain with only earth tones, get ready to be proved wrong! We put together a guide with bold brands we love.

Why Do So Many Sustainable Fashion Brands Use Earth Tones?

Taking a step back to try to understand why people think sustainable fashion has a standard, boring look, it’s important to clarify that one way slow fashion brands differ from fast fashion brands is that they usually invest much more time and resources into research in order to minimize their impact on our planet and people throughout their entire production process. Color is a fundamental component of fashion production but bright, warm colors and prints can not easily be reproduced with natural dyes and as a result, “a toxic soup of chemicals is discarded from the fashion industry’s synthetic dye processes, filtering into the water systems of the planet,” according to Fashion Revolution

That’s why a fair amount of slow fashion brands are opting for natural dyes, such as those made from vegetables, which are often restricted to a limited palette of neutral and earthy colors, according to Vogue India. Not to say there’s anything wrong with these colors — they make your clothes versatile and timeless, ensuring that they will be treasured in your wardrobe for a long time to come.

Colorful Sustainable Fashion Is Possible

Luckily, for those of us who love bright and bold colors, a bigger palette of natural dyes is becoming available thanks to the research that brands and companies are investing into. In addition, new regulations and certifications (such as OEKO-TEX) encourage brands to reduce their harmful impacts even when using synthetic dyes, and help consumers make informed decisions (and avoid “toxic soups”).

As production processes are changing, people’s tastes are changing too. While minimalistic fashion, dominated by neutral, earthy, and plain colors and shapes, will forever be considered effortlessly cool, it seems to be taking a backseat in favor of maximalism. One big historical event that has shaped and is still shaping our behaviors, even when it comes to how clothes are made and how people dress, is the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to MakersValley, “the fatigue of pandemic minimalism has turned people back toward maximalism, though the current maximalist aesthetic differs from previous iterations thanks largely to the internet offering up a plethora of new resources for inspiration.” For example, many people turn to TikTok for bold outfit inspiration.

Lovers of color and prints who are looking for ethical brands to support and perhaps also want to play with the maximalism aesthetic to add a pinch of pepper to your outfits, we’ve got you covered – head to toe.


Colorful Sustainable Clothing Brands

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)
Image credit: Colorful Standard

Colorful Standard

With a mission to “color the world responsibly,” Colorful Standard makes clothing using either 100% organic cotton or 100% merino wool. Their clothing is available in a wide variety of solid colors, from neutral to bold and vibrant, and all of their 50 colors come from OEKO-TEX certified dyes. The brand is known for long lasting and ethically made fashion staples such as T-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, and socks. Colorful Standard is headquartered in Denmark and produces their clothing in Portugal with fair wages.

Size range: XS – 2XL
Values:
Sustainable materials, Recycled materials, Factory transparency, Seasonless collections, Low waste production
Availability:
Based in Denmark, ships worldwide


Image credit: TAMGA

TAMGA Designs

If you’re on the hunt for colorful, twirl-worthy, floral dresses, TAMGA Designs is the place to go. TAMGA gets their bright colors from OEKO-TEX certified dyes that “use 70% less water than conventional synthetic dyes,” and that react beautifully to their sustainable and ethically sourced fabrics — Tencel, EcoVero, flax linen, and Modal. In addition to dresses they sell tops, bottoms, loungewear and more in feminine styles with hand-drawn prints or solid colors. 

Size range: XS – 2XL
Values: Sustainable materials, Factory transparency, Low waste production, Plastic-free packaging, Vegan, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, Gives back
Availability: Based in Canada, ships worldwide


Image credit: Nube

Nube

This woman-owned, USA-based activewear/loungewear brand collaborates with artists and designers who create unique and colorful prints. Each artist receives 5% of the profits for each item sold with their design. Their fabrics are made in the USA with recycled polyester and dyes that are “non toxic, low impact and lead free.” The coloring and finishing procedures take place locally in LA, and Nube strives to reduce energy use and toxins at every point in the process.

Size range: XS – 2XL
Values: Recycled materials, Factory transparency, Seasonless collections, Low waste production, Plastic-free packaging, Made in the USA, Vegan, Gives back
Availability: Based in LA, ships to the USA with options to ship worldwide


Lucy & Yak

Since founders Lucy and Chris left their 9-5 jobs to hit the road in their van Yak, where the brand began, they’ve been continuously working to source more sustainable fabrics and create new prints, shapes, and cuts. Lucy & Yak is a GOTS certified brand that makes dungarees, jackets, dresses, trousers and more in whimsical patterns. All their suppliers are OEKO-TEX certified, meaning that items “have been tested for harmful substances and ensure the product is harmless for your health.” The brand also uses natural dyes — including charcoal, stone green, and umber.

Size range: XS – 4XL
Values: GOTS Certified, Sustainable materials, Recycled materials, Factory transparency, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, Body-inclusive models
Availability: Based in the UK, ships worldwide


Image credit: Zuri

Zuri

In Swahili, “mzuri” — the inspiration for this brand name — means “good.” Founders Sandra and Ashleigh strive to embody this “good” ethos in everything that they do: Zuri operates fairly and ethically to support a long-term, sustainable economy in Kenya. They make simple and plain styles but play with colors a lot, inspired by African traditional prints and textiles. Many of their fabrics are hand printed or hand loomed by partnering with local craftspeople using traditional methods, like the batik process.  

Size range: 2XS – 3XL
Values: Factory transparency, Body-inclusive models, Seasonless collections
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Image credit: Thief & Bandit

Thief & Bandit

Thief & Bandit‘s whimsical and edgy statement prints are instantly recognizable. Their garments are not only sewn in-house in their Halifax studio but their sustainable fabrics are also hand-printed with custom silkscreen designs. Their inclusive collection includes clothing, swimwear, underwear, and accessories all made in their Halifax studio.

Size Range: XS – 4X
Values: Sustainable materials, Low waste production, Made in-house, Made-to-order, Made in Canada
Availability: Based in Canada, ships worldwide


Image credit: Back Beat Co.

Back Beat Co.

Back Beat Co. serves up cool, Californian style and are a great option if you’re looking for colorful cotton knitwear, comfy lounge wear, and some not-so-basic basics. Their garments are all made locally in LA.

Size Range: XS – XXL
Values: Sustainable materials, GOTS certified cotton, Factory transparency, Made in America, Plastic-free packaging
Based In: USA, ships worldwide


Colorful Sustainable Underwear

Image credit: Thunderpants

Thunderpants

“No riding, rolling, bunching, wiggling, or wedging,” that’s Thunderpants. The brand was founded in 1995 by two sisters who were frustrated by irritating undies and set out to design “the ultimate comfy undie” — and they did! They partner with a large roster of artists to design prints or hand-dye fabrics for unique underwear, bralettes, camis and swimwear you can’t find anywhere else. If you check out their limited collection of one-of-a-kind items, make sure you don’t miss the Flower Press Botanical selection: a dye process you can… DIY, too.

Price: USD 24 – 46
Size range: XS – 4XL
Values: Fair Trade certified, Body-inclusive models, GOTS certified, Sustainable materials, Made in the USA, Factory transparency
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Colorful Footwear

Image credit: Conscious Step

Conscious Step

Want to make an impact every step of the way? Conscious Step’s got you covered with their organic cotton socks with fun colors, prints and characters. This brand gives back with every purchase, with a wide variety of causes to choose from including women empowerment, rainforest conservation, protecting LGBTQ+ lives, and many more. Their products and factory are certified by OEKO-TEX and Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).

Price: USD 13 – 17
Size range: S – L
Values: Fair Trade, GOTS certified, OEKO-TEX certified, Sustainable materials, Factory transparency, Gives back, Vegan
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Image credit: Cariuma

CARIUMA

CARIUMA’s sustainably-made sneakers are the touch of color that every jeans and T-shirt outfit needs. They offer many styles for men and women in a variety of eye-catching prints and colors — neutrals as well as vibrant and Pantone shades. To ensure that no hazardous chemicals would be used in their manufacturing process and to also make things as safe as possible for their workers, the brand only choses Bluesign-certified chemicals to dye their materials. Check out CARIUMA’s designs in collaboration with international artists if you’d like to reach a new level of boldness.

Price: USD 79 – 169
Size range: US 5 – 13
Values: GOTS certified, Recycled materials, Sustainable materials, Low waste production, Factory transparency, Gives back
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Colorful, Sustainable Accessories

Image credit: Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is a certified B Corporation that makes durable and colorful adventure gear while prioritizing sustainability and giving back to communities in South America. The brand sells a variety of bright accessories and gear such as backpacks, travel packs, fanny packs and hats. One particularly fun line is their collection of bags and backpacks that are made from fabric scraps leftover from other companies, giving them a color-blocked pattern Cotopaxi is known for.  

Price: USD 40 – 295
Size range: US 2XS – 2XL
Values: GOTS certified, Recycled materials, Sustainable materials, Fair trade, B Corp, Factory transparency, Gives back
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Image credit: BAGGU

BAGGU

Oh, how many battles we’ve fought against single-use plastic bags – and how long the road towards a future free from them is still. BAGGU produces a wide range of products from socks to slippers, hats, and many other everyday accessories but it’s most known for its eye-catching reusable bags. The brand’s mission is to reduce waste, particularly through the elimination of single-use plastic bags. They inspire more and more people to invest in funny, colorful, playful totes that can be used for a looong time and they also walk the talk! In fact, their sustainability efforts are all focused on the elimination and minimization of waste in their own operations and production processes, too.

Price: USD 12 – 78
Values: Recycled materials, Vegan, Plastic-free packaging, Low waste production
Availability: Based in the USA, ships worldwide


Did we miss any of your favorites?

What is Cost Per Wear & How It Can Help You Shop Responsibly

posted in shopping tips

How many times are you really going to wear that new piece of clothing you’re eyeing? When shopping with Cost Per Wear in mind, that question is front and center. Cost Per Wear is a simple equation that helps you realize that sustainable clothing may not be as expensive as you think it is, if you focus on the bigger picture. Let’s find out how to calculate it and why it could drastically change your shopping behaviors.

Cost Per Wear: The Formula

When calculating the Cost Per Wear (CPW), you are breaking down the upfront price of a  clothing item by the number of times you will realistically wear it. 

Cost Per Wear ($) = Upfront cost ($) / Times worn (#)

It’s clear that the Cost Per Wear is not an objective indicator and that the CPW of the very same item could differ from person to person, depending on their own style and habits. 

Let’s take a $300 coat as an example: If you live in Canada, where winter hits you in the bones and lasts for months, you’re probably reaching out to your coat at least 60 days per year. Now, if we consider that a well-made coat lasts for a minimum of 5 years (and I’m being very conservative), this means you could wear your $300 coat 200 times. The Cost Per Wear of that item would be $1.50 for you.


If you live in California instead, you’d probably wear your $300 coat only a few days per year (unless you’re traveling to Canada), so the CPW of that very same item goes up for you. If you wear the coat 50 times over 5 years, the Cost Per Wear is $6! Doesn’t sound so worth it anymore…

The Cost Per Wear formula allows you to estimate what the real value of a garment is for you, before you buy it. The lower the CPW, the more it’s worth it for you to make that purchase if you really need new clothing. The higher the CPW, the less that item is valuable for you so you should really think twice before buying.

This is one of the pillars of sustainability: “Think before you buy,” and the Cost Per Wear equation is there to make us think indeed.

Is Sustainable Fashion Really More Expensive?

While there are options to buy more consciously without spending a fortune, it’s true that sustainable brands typically have a higher price point than others. There are lots of factors that go into the final price of clothing — think quality of the materials and construction, and living wages — but it’s important not to stop at the price tag.

We’ve learned that the price tag does not reflect the real value an item could have for each one of us. The CPW indicator does, and just because a fast fashion item reports a much lower price on its tag it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will cost you less over time.

In the era of Instagram and TikTok where fashion influencers are never pictured or tagged in the same dress twice, it’s no big surprise that in the UK “one in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old,” as reported by The Guardian

While social media perpetuates a “FOMO” culture, ultra fast fashion brands are not simply bystanders: they play a key role, conscious that introducing users to new products every minute and motivating their desire for the trendiest clothing can lead to expensive habits.

Let us take a practical example and compare a fast fashion outfit that you only plan to wear twice (or may only be able to due to low quality) to a more sustainable outfit that you’re going to take care of and wear for years to come.

Breaking down the Cost Per Wear of both outfits (calculated based on the 30-wears rule for the more sustainable option), the verdict is that the pricey, ethically-made outfit does actually cost you less over time than the fast fashion ensemble. The case is closed.

How Can the Cost Per Wear Be Lowered?

There are a few elements that everyone should pay attention to and look for when you need new clothes and go on a mission to find some that are worth the purchase:

  • Quality of the materials, seams, and other components like zippers, buttons, etc; the higher the quality, the longer that item is going to last, the lower the CPW would be
  • Style, and especially how that item you’re considering fits with the rest of your closet: if it does not, you’re probably going to struggle styling it and end up not wearing it that much
  • Staples vs trends: only focus on buying clothes that you think you’re going to reach for over time as opposed to designs that are trending this season but are likely going to be not-so-cool anymore in just a few months

Needless to say, these rules also apply to second hand shopping if you’re into it. And not only that: the Cost Per Wear concept is a true master key that you can use on different occasions. In fact, you can easily swap out the “Wear” of this equation to replace it with “Use” so that the formula applies to other categories than fashion, like toys or tools.

Winter Capsule Wardrobe 2022/2023

posted in capsule wardrobes

This season is a mix of super comfy and cozy pieces and also some festive and colorful items to have some fun styling this capsule wardrobe.

Items in my Winter Capsule

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)

Tops

Mustard mock-neck – Encircled

Printed turtleneck – Thief & Bandit

White linen shirt – secondhand

Grey knit top – People Tree

Grey long hoodie – Encircled

Sweaters

Red sweater – very old

Orange cotton sweater – secondhand

Dark grey sweater – Izzy Lane

Tan sweater – handknit

White Icelandic sweater – secondhand

Green sweater – Sheep Inc. (learn more about ZQ wool and Sheep Inc. here)

Bottoms

Green Linen skirt – Son de Flor

Black knit skirt – secondhand

Winter leggings – Anne Mulaire (read my review and more about AM here) and you can also use code GREENCLOSET for a free bamboo headband with purchase!

Black pocket leggings – Encircled

Pink Fleece Joggers – Hernest Project

Fleece ‘Dressy Sweats’ – Encircled

Plaid pants – handmade

Washed black jeans – Everlane (please watch this video for my thoughts on Everlane)

Dresses

Green sweater dress – tentree

Red long-sleeve dress – Tonle

Linen wrap dress – Son de Flor

Green linen dress – Son de Flor

Layers & Outerwear

Navy cropped cardigan – tentree

Rust cardigan – Eileen Fisher

Plaid coat – Frank & Oak (read this post about the coat and Frank & Oak)

Grey coat – secondhand

Is H&M Actually Sustainable or Are They Greenwashing?

H&M has been very vocal about their sustainability efforts, but is the brand actually eco-friendly?

Image credit: Sei on Unsplash

Boasting over 38 million followers on Instagram and more than $22 billion USD in sales last year, H&M has made quite a name for themselves. Chances are you have shopped at or at least heard of this Swedish clothing company, which is the second largest clothing company in the world. Aside from being a household name, H&M is known as a fast fashion brand, churning out new clothing and collections at lightning speed. In fact, H&M often designs, produces, and distributes new clothing in as little as two weeks’ time. Working to change this fast fashion narrative, the brand seems to be all about sustainability as of late.  

H&M’s Sustainability Efforts

H&M is quite vocal about their sustainability efforts. The company has been releasing yearly sustainability reports since the early 2000s. Their 2021 report details their approach to sustainability and goals for circular and climate positive practices. But is H&M all talk?

One pillar of H&M’s sustainability efforts is their Conscious Collection. This clothing line within the brand is marketed as a sustainable fashion collection that uses eco-friendly materials.  In its advertising materials, the brand states, “Our Conscious products contain at least 50% recycled materials, organic materials or TENCEL ™ Lyocell material- in fact many contain 100%.”  

Hold onto your hats, because if you read that previous paragraph and thought “this sounds too good to be true,” then you are correct…

The Lawsuit Against H&M

Chelsea Commodore, a marketing student and H&M customer, filed an advertising lawsuit against the fast fashion giant in July 2022. Commodore alleges that H&M is guilty of greenwashing its products. Greenwashing is when a brand makes themselves or their product appear eco-friendly via false information or deceptive advertising. Commodore argues in the lawsuit that H&M “misrepresented the nature of its products, at the expense of consumers who pay a price premium in the belief that they are buying truly sustainable and environmentally friendly clothing.” 

In this day and age, many of us are attempting to shop more sustainability and are more selective of the brands we bring business to. H&M, aware of this rising demographic of conscious shoppers, saw a business opportunity. Instead of creating a truly eco-friendly line, the brand used smoke and mirrors and marketing ploys to attract customers.  

Image credit: Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

H&M Greenwashing Examples

H&M’s previously mentioned Conscious Collection reeks of greenwashing. One example of greenwashing marketing H&M engaged in is the sustainability scorecards placed on many of their products. These scorecards were designed to flag which H&M pieces are sustainable, and the cards shared facts about the materials used to create the garments. These green tags were meant to draw in eco-conscious shoppers. An investigation from Quartz, however, revealed the information on these sustainability scorecards was fictitious. One alarming find from this investigation is that one dress contained a label saying H&M used 20% less water than average when producing the garment, when in reality it took 20% more water to produce the dress! The scorecard told a straight up lie.  

In the lawsuit, Commodore is also calling out H&M for not actually using sustainable materials for their Conscious Collection clothing. Many of the clothes from the Conscious Collection line are made from polyester, a synthetic material that is not biodegradable or recyclable. Polyester is also known to shed harmful microfibers.  

Learn more about how to spot greenwashing in this My Green Closet video

*It is important to note that H&M has pulled its Conscious Collection both in store and online, with the collection being completely removed from stores by the end of October 2022.

H&M’s Business Model

Another part of the problem lies in H&M’s business model. The brand’s low-cost, high-volume, trend-driven business model is not conducive to green business practices. H&M’s business model involves creating clothes cheaply and in high volumes, as is typical for fast fashion companies. Frequent and large-scale production of clothing is not sustainable or eco-friendly. Even if H&M’s Conscious Collection were eco-friendly, a few better choices among the brand’s estimated 550 million garments produced annually is not really sustainable at all.  

Even the brand’s clothing donation initiative is problematic. H&M stores feature donation boxes where shoppers can recycle their old garments in exchange for a store coupon. The donated clothes are then sorted into three categories: Rewear, Reuse, and Recycle. Rewear clothes become secondhand clothing; Reuse clothes are turned into new products, such as cleaning rags; Recycle clothes are recycled into new textile fibers. This seems like a noble program, right? The fact is, however, this clothing recycling program promotes throwaway culture. Instead of investing in quality items that can be worn season after season, throwaway culture promotes constantly swapping out one’s wardrobe by throwing away/recycling old items and buying new replacements. The donation program rids shoppers of consumer guilt by convincing them that constantly buying new clothing is okay since they are donating old items. It is also worth noting that only 0.1% of clothing donated to programs like H&M’s actually gets recycled into new fibers.  

H&M’s low-cost, high-volume business model also raises questions about the brand’s labor conditions and practices. On their website, H&M conveniently explains that they outsource production and therefore do not have control over worker salaries. The brand does, however, offer up a plan on how to increase wages for garment workers, including educating workers on their rights, monitoring wages, and engaging in collective bargaining. However, there is no proof that every employee receives a living wage. H&M has also faced criticism on the working conditions in factories where their clothing is produced. H&M has 42 suppliers in Myanmar, where there have been reports of wage theft and sexual harassment. Like H&M’s grand sustainability plans, there seems to be a lot of talk about improving working conditions, but not a lot of evidence of improvements occurring. 

Is H&M Sustainable? The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that H&M is not a sustainable brand. Their sustainability efforts, while sounding good on paper, appear to be another sad case of greenwashed marketing. If the brand is serious about making a change, a new business model is needed for H&M to truly become an eco-friendly, sustainable company. For the time being, H&M will not be recognized as a sustainable company. 

The Best Sustainable Corporate Gifts & Bulk Gifting Options

posted in holidays & events

Looking for a sustainable gift ideas for clients or for employee appreciation? Or maybe eco friendly gifts for wedding guests or large groups? There are tons of great options that not only make thoughtful and useful gifts but also align with your sustainable business values.

Check out and support these lovely small businesses that offer corporate, personalized, or bulk gifting options that are better for the planet:

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)

Sustainable Gift Boxes

Eco & Zero Waste Custom Gift Boxes from EarthHero

EarthHero offers ready made gift boxes feature sustainable home and lifestyle products as well as a huge section of goods that can be made into a custom gift box. They also have reuseable items and sustainable swag such as water bottles, coffee cups, pens, notebooks, bags, chargers, and more that can be customized or branded.

EarthHero offers an easy-to-use custom gift box builder or you can also contact them for order and info.

Location: USA, can ship international


Custom & Themed Gift Boxes from Good Earth Gifting

Good Earth Gifting is a Canadian company that solely focuses on sustainable curated gift boxes. You can select from their themed boxes such as ‘Snacks’, ‘On the Go’, ‘Self-care’, ‘Cocktail, ‘Kitchen Essentials’ and more. Alternatively you can customize a box yourself or have them build a box for you.

You can order boxes or contact them for other corporate gifting options.

Location: Canada, ships within Canada


Fair Trade Gifts & Personalized Products from Made Trade

Made Trade is another conscious marketplace with many sustainable and fair trade gift options. Including accessories, home goods, candles, and more.

Contact their Corporate Gifting Team or get in touch with them about any bulk orders or customization options.

Location: USA, ships within US


Eco Friendly Activity Gifts

Audiobook Credits from Libro.fm

Let’s face it, many corporate gifts just become unwanted (and unsustainable) clutter, solve that problem by going digital!

Libro.fm audiobook credits are unique because they partner and share profits with independent bookstores. They have a huge selection of fiction and non-fiction audiobooks, bestsellers, and curated collections/recommendations so your gift receivers are sure to find titles they’ll enjoy.

Libro.fm offers gift credit bundles (1 credit = 1 audiobook) ranging from 2 to 24 and you can contact them about other bulk credit options or bulk order of a specific audiobook.

Location: Available international


Art Puzzles from Goodfit

Puzzles are a classic holiday activity and these offer something new and environmentally conscious!

Goodfit’s puzzles are exclusive and designed in collaboration with artists. Plus each puzzle is made from 100% recycled cardboard and donates 10% to an organization or charity of the artist’s choosing.

They offer bulk discounts and you can contact them about personalization options.

Location: USA, ships international


Experience Vouchers from Tinggly

Experiences make the best sustainable gifts and Tinggly’s gift vouchers mean everyone can pick their own experience.

They offer both hotel stay/getaway vouchers and experience vouchers which can include things like guided tours, spa packages, adventure and adrenaline experiences, culinary excursions and many more.

Tinggly’s vouchers can either be sent as an e-voucher or in a gift box which can be custom branded. The gift boxes are 100% recycled and all experiences as well as shipping are carbon offset. Plus Tinggly gives back to reforestation and plastic cleanup projects.

Location: International


Treats & Food Gifts

Canadian Maple Syrup from Wabanaki Maple

Wabanaki Maple‘s maple syrup is aged in oak, whiskey, and bourbon barrels to develop unique complex flavours. Or if you want to give a beautiful traditional maple syrup they have that too.

Wabanaki Maple is an Indigenous, female-owned small business that carries on the history and tradition of maple syrup harvesting and refining. Their products are made locally in Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), New Brunswick.

You can contact them about corporate and bulk orders.

Location: Canada, ships within Canada


Accessories

Comfy Stretch Belts from Unbelts

Speaking from experience, Unbelts unisex stretchy belts are incredibly comfortable and make a great gift. Their Intrepid Belt is ethically made from recycled plastic bottles and comes in 15+ colors and styles.

For bulk order and corporate gifting Unbelts has custom packaging and logo printing available.

Location: based in Canada but they have both a Canadian store and US store


Green Skincare, Soaps & Candles

Bath & Skincare Products from Sḵwálwen Botanicals

Sḵwálwen Botanicals is a Canadian Indigenous brand making small batch skincare using cultural plant knowledge and showcasing ingredients responsibly foraged on the pacific coast. Their products are a beautiful gift of indulgence and self-care.

Sḵwálwen Botanicals offers bath salts and soaks as well as some of their balms and salves for bulk gifting so you can customize a gift bundle. They have discounts available for orders of 60+ units.

Location: Canada, ships to Canada and US


Natural Candles

Candles always makes a lovely gift and for more sustainable options look for vegan, coconut and/or soy wax, and cleaning burning candles. Here are some of our favorites that also offer corporate gifting and bulk order options:

Mala the Brand – based in Vancouver, Canada – contact for availability

P.F. Candle Co. – based in Los Angeles, USA

Milk Jar – based in Calgary, Canada

Paddywax – based in Nashville, USA

Fall Capsule Wardrobe 2022

posted in capsule wardrobes

After a summer of home renovations and wearing dirty painting clothes most days, I’m not only excited to be settling into our new place but also to wear cute clothes again!

I’ve been navigating weight fluctuations over the past few years but for this capsule in particular I let go of many pieces that no longer fit and invested in some better fitting items, and pieces that will work through weight fluctuations.

Here are the items in my fall capsule:

Tops

Sweaters & Hoodies

  • Red sweater – very old
  • Orange cotton sweater – secondhand
  • Green sweater – Sheep Inc. (learn more about ZQ wool and Sheep Inc. here)
  • Grey long hoodie – Encircled
  • Green cropped hoodie – tentree

Bottoms

  • Washed black jeans – Everlane (please watch this video for my thoughts on Everlane)
  • Plaid pants – handmade
  • Winter leggings – Anne Mulaire (read my review and more about AM here) and you can also use code GREENCLOSET for a free bamboo headband with purchase!
  • Black pocket leggings – Encircled
  • Green Linen skirt – Son de flor
  • Black knit skirt – secondhand

Jumpsuit & Dresses

Layers & Outerwear

What Do Stores Do With Returned Clothing?

posted in fashion industry

For some of us, it’s difficult to remember what shopping was like before the Internet. But, there was a time when in order to buy something, you had to drive to a store; fill your hands with merchandise in various sizes; try it all on in a badly lit dressing room with a flimsy lock or, even worse, a curtain that didn’t close all the way; and then purchase it while a cashier tried to get you to open a store credit card. That also meant that in order to return something, you had to drive to the store again and interact with a real-life person who, hypothetically, could deny your return. The whole process was time consuming and a little intimidating. Of course, people still shop in-person today, but there is a difference between voluntarily shopping on a lazy afternoon at your favorite local boutique because you want to, and going through this process because you have to.

Online shopping has certainly made our lives easier, but this convenience comes at the price of returns. Product returns are costly on our wallets and the environment — a fact purposely swept under the rug by retailers.

The Point of No Return 

In the retail business, returns are referred to as “reverse logistics,” and the open secret is that most companies don’t have a good handle on what to do with all of these products once consumers decide they don’t want them. According to a 2021 article by Amanda Mull in The Atlantic, while retail stores have return rates in the single digits, online retailers can have return rates anywhere between 15 and 30 percent. This rate is on the higher side for clothing retailers because of a term Mull refers to as “bracketing” — the practice of consumers buying one size larger and one size smaller than their typical size to check for the best fit. 

The reliance on returns is what we could call the “Zappos effect.” In her article, Mull relays the early success Zappos had in enticing consumers to buy an item that is notoriously difficult to buy online by offering free shipping, free returns, and a “the customer is always right” attitude. The company experienced such exponential growth that it could afford this business model, and soon, other companies followed suit until it became standard practice. By constantly offering free shipping, free returns, and regular discounts, which are actually just baked into the retail price of the item, companies set up a system that incentivizes consumers to return products. 

However, now companies have dug themselves into a hole that they can’t get out of. Recently, The New York Times wrote about liquidation warehouses that started springing up in late 2021. Due to the pandemic, companies such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon experienced skyrocketing sales, since people spent money on goods rather than services. With supply chain issues leading to empty shelves, companies ordered products months in advance to try to keep up with demand. And then the demand suddenly dropped due to inflation, leading to warehouses of goods being sold at a loss. Add that to record-high losses due to returns — with record sales comes record returns — and there is simply too much junk out there for any major company to know what to do with. 

Burn Baby Burn 

While some of these products end up at liquidators like the one profiled in The New York Times, many products end up being simply burned or destroyed. Companies such as Burberry, H&M, Nike, Urban Outfitters, and countless others burn billions of dollars of brand-new merchandise every year.

It is impossible to know exactly how much merchandise is disposed of, as the supply chains are so complex they are almost impossible to trace, but Mull states that it is estimated by industry insiders to be around 25 percent of all returned goods. So, roughly one out of four of the items you have returned to an online retailer have ended up being incinerated or thrown into a landfill. While this is an issue that should be regulated on a government level, the number of returns we make as consumers is something that we have power over. 

Tips on How to Reduce Returns

  1. Buy secondhand when possible. Buying an item secondhand keeps clothing out of landfills. Explore thrift stores or sites like Poshmark or Depop before buying something new. 
  2. Consider trying on items in person. If you are near a physical store location, visit in person so you can try on different sizes at one time. 
  3. Even if you buy online, return in person if you can. Returns made in person are more likely to actually end up back on the shelf. 
  4. Don’t buy multiple sizes of the same item. While buying more than one size when online shopping is convenient, it means you are guaranteed to make a return, and that return does not just “go back on the shelf.” Take detailed notes of your body measurements and compare them to the brand’s size chart. Read reviews to see if an item runs true to size or not. You can even email customer service for advice on what size to get if you are still unsure. If you increase the chance that you get it right the first time, you can decrease the chance of a return. 
  5. Revisit brands you know.  While it can be fun to explore new designers, if you know a brand tends to fit you well and makes good-quality clothing, it is a safer bet than one you haven’t tried before. 
  6. Shop smaller brands. Indie designers and small brands are less likely to be able to afford the high cost of tossing returns and are incentivized to resell inventory. 
  7. Buy two of something you love and wear often. Do you find yourself always wearing the same pair of jeans or shoes over and over again? Consider buying a second pair, and better yet, buy them lightly used. Styles are discontinued all the time, so you will save yourself the need to search for their replacement in the long run. Further, owning two of the same item actually makes your items last more than twice as long, since recovery time between wears extends the overall lifespan of your items. 

Do you have any other tips on how to reduce returns? Let us know in the comments!

Which Brands are Fast Fashion? We Break it Down

posted in fashion industry

Typically when we think of fast fashion H&M, ZARA, Forever 21, Primark and/or Topshop are usually top of mind. However there are a lot of other brands that can’t as clearly be identified as fast fashion. We looked into some popular brands to make a call on which classify as fast fashion and which don’t.

How do we define Fast Fashion?

While some brands, like the ones mentioned above, can be easily identified as fast fashion solely based on their extremely high volume of clothing sold at cheap prices, others seem to live in a more grey area. Here is the other criteria we used to determine if a brand classifies as fast fashion or not:

  • How often do they release new styles? (eg. 4 collections per year vs. new products weekly)
  • Is the focus on quantity over quality?
  • Is the brand heavily trend-driven?
  • What is the price point?
  • Do they have info and transparency around their manufacturing and sustainability initiatives? (Also keeping an eye out for greenwashing)

Is ASOS fast fashion?

Yes, ASOS is fast fashion. They add up to 7,000 new styles to their website every week (source) a ridiculous amount of clothing and clear indicator they are a fast fashion brand.

Is Athleta fast fashion?

We’re honestly on the fence with Athleta. They seems to make a decent quality products and have some good initiatives. However Athleta is owned by GAP Inc. and while they are doing things better than other brands under the GAP umbrella, such as using more sustainable materials, receiving B Corp certification, and manufacturing some garments in fair trade factories, their parent company GAP Inc. is a clear fast fashion manufacturer with many ethical issues.
So if you’re looking for activewear, we recommend checking out these brands instead.

Is Adidas fast fashion?

Yes, Adidas is fast fashion. They produce a large volume of clothes and are lacking transparency around wages as well as being accused of wage theft.

Is Aritzia fast fashion?

Yes, Aritzia is fast fashion. While their price point is higher than other brands which may lead you to think they aren’t, Aritzia is still producing an excessive amount of clothing, constantly adding new styles, and is highly trend-driven. Even though they have a few small sustainability initiatives, Good on You found “no evidence Aritzia is actively reducing its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain” and well as “no evidence Aritzia ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain”. Aritzia also received a score of only 20% on Fashion Revolution’s 2022 Transparency Index, and transparency is just the starting point for ethical production.

Is Costco/Kirkland fast fashion?

Yes, Costco is fast fashion. When we think of fast fashion Costco usually doesn’t come to mind however according to Insider “Costco has become an unlikely $7 billion fast-fashion destination”. While we definitely wouldn’t call Costco clothing trendy, they do produce and sell a large volume of clothing (both their own Kirkland collection and other brands) and have a high turnover of product. Costco also has very little transparency around ethical and sustainable sourcing and manufacturing. Additionally they have not signed the International Accord and recently were named in a report has having engaged in unfair trading practices in Bangladesh during the pandemic.

Is Everlane fast fashion?

No, we don’t consider Everlane fast fashion, however we find their “radical transparency” suspect and wish they were actually bring transparent where it matters. We also think they could me doing more regarding sustainability and ethical manufacturing. Check out our ethical alternatives to Everlane instead.

Is Express fast fashion?

Yes, Express is fast fashion. They produce a high volume of clothing and have very little information available about their manufacturing as sustainability. Express also has the lowest possible rating on Good on You and received a terrible score of 5% on Fashion Revolution’s 2022 Transparency Index.

Is GAP fast fashion?

Yes, GAP is fast fashion and they also own Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta (see above). Gap Inc. produces a high volume of clothing and has faced many labor controversies over the years – most recently GAP Inc. initially refused to pay workers at the start of the pandemic and lobbed against the Garment Worker Protection Act. (source)

Is Lululemon fast fashion?

No, we don’t consider Lululemon fast fashion, due to the fact they have a strong focus on quality and their garments are not highly trend-driven or “disposable”. However we also don’t think they have great ethics and sustainability standards. There have been accounts of unethical manufacturing and accusations of Lululemon greenwashing.

Check out these ethical activewear brands instead.

Is Madewell fast fashion?

Yes, Madewell is fast fashion. Again we have a brand producing a high volume of clothing with a lot of turn-over and little transparency. Madewell does seem to have some better initiatives such as a few Fair Trade Certified products but this is only a small % of their production.

Madewell is also owned by J. Crew and we consider J. Crew fast fashion too.

Is Nike fast fashion?

Yes. Nike is fast fashion. While Nike has had many labor and sweatshop controversies over the years they do seem to be cleaning up their act and offering more transparency. However they still produce a high volume of clothing and have a fast fashion business model.

Is Roots fast fashion?

No, we don’t consider Roots fast fashion due to their quality, price point, and some sustainability initiatives . However Oxfam Canada notes that Roots works with many third-party manufacturers and has very little transparency around their supply chain and code of conduct. So we also wouldn’t recommend shopping from them, instead check out this list of Canadian fashion brands.

Is Shein fast fashion?

Yes. Shein is fast fashion and has become the leading brand of an even worse ultra-fast fashion model. Learn more about why Shein is particularly bad and what ultra fast fashion is here.

Is UNIQLO fast fashion?

Yes. UNIQLO is fast fashion. They produce around 1.3 billion items of clothing every year (source). The owner is the richest man in Japan, meanwhile UNIQLO has wage controversies such as refusing to pay 5.5 million dollars in severance pay.

Is Urban Outfitters fast fashion?

Yes. Urban Outfitters is fast fashion, including subsidiary brands under URBN, Anthropologie and Free People are all fast fashion. All these brands are highly trend driven and produce an excessive volume of clothing with new garments constantly in stock and high turn-over of styles. They are lacking in transparency and two years later these brands still haven’t paid for orders placed at the start of the pandemic.

What is Regenerative vs Organic Clothing

posted in fabrics

As sustainable fashion enthusiasts, we’re used to hearing about all the ways we can reduce our personal impact on the planet and fight for a better industry. It’s (finally) becoming understood that the best thing we can do as empowered consumers is to buy less, opt for secondhand when possible and make the most of what we already have. 

But what happens when we do need to buy something new? Clothing and textile production isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so it’s time we start looking at solutions that don’t simply minimize harm, but that actively restore and renew the planet. Regenerative clothing is the result of a growing movement aimed at improving global farming practices and reversing the impacts of climate change. Pioneered and still led today by indigenous cultures, regenerative agriculture offers us a precious opportunity to transform industries and help save the planet in the process. 

What does ‘Regenerative’ mean with Cotton and Clothing? 

You might not think about it when getting dressed, but our clothing is intricately linked with agriculture. Cotton doesn’t just magically appear in a factory to make cotton T-shirts, for instance! So, in order to understand regenerative clothing, we first need to understand regenerative agriculture

Image credit: Zoe Schaeffer – Unsplash

Any clothing made from a natural material first started out as a crop in a field, and large amounts of precious resources like land, water, labour and sometimes pesticides are used to bring those crops to harvest. Although we typically consider natural fabrics better for the planet, they still have a significant impact on the environment and the people that produce them. Considering how much clothing is produced every year, it’s crucial that we create these materials as responsibly as possible. That’s where regenerative agriculture comes in. 

According to Regeneration International, “regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity — resulting in both carbon drawdown and improvements in the water cycle”.

Why is this so crucial? Most of us know that there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and in our oceans. But did you know that, through industrialized farming practices and other activities, we have damaged our soil to the extent that we’ve removed an estimated 50-70% of the soil’s original carbon? As the Centre for Food Safety explains,  “carbon is constantly cycling through different spheres as either a liquid, solid, or gas. Human activities—including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, the draining of wetlands, and repeated tillage— have disrupted the carbon cycle, taking it out of balance”.

Regenerative farming practices can help restore this balance by removing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into soil. Not only is this vital in slowing global warming, it also leads to healthier crop yields, natural ecosystem restoration and increased biodiversity, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The regenerative agriculture movement is informed by pre-industrial practices and refined by modern day science, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says. Instead of viewing a farm as a factory, regenerative agriculture sees it as an essential part of a larger ecosystem. The goal is to move away from the current status quo, which prioritizes high yields and profit over sustainability, and is extremely damaging and extractive. That being said, there’s no one-size-fits all solution. Every region will require a tailored approach that considers its unique climate and ecosystem 

Image credit: Trisha Downing – Unsplash

How does Regenerative Agriculture differ from Organic Farming? 

You might be wondering how regenerative clothing differs from organic clothing. Once again, we start with the crop. Organic programs focus mainly on the removal of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, as well as ecological balance and improved working conditions.

While the production process of organic materials does have a lot of benefits over conventional, it isn’t exactly harmless. One major criticism of popular organic programs is the cost of entry. Farmers are often faced with large admission fees and complicated guidelines that can make adoption difficult. In addition, it can take a few years before a farm is officially certified organic, which means the pay off can be delayed and uncertain. Another concern is that as the demand for organic products increases, more land will be needed to meet demand, which could lead to deforestation and displacement of local communities. This is because compared to conventionally grown crops, organic farms can have smaller yields. So in order to produce the same amount for our food and textiles, more land will be needed overall. 

Is ‘Regenerative’ better than ‘Organic’?

Large-scale organically grown crops can still take a toll on the land they’re cultivated on, and producers often don’t do enough to address declining soil health, loss of biodiversity and overall carbon emissions. Put simply, organic production is more focused on the inputs involved in farming, and not enough on the overall impact. Organic farming also doesn’t address a lot of the major issues with conventional agriculture. For example, in order to control weed growth, many organic farmers rely on intensive tilling leading to decreased soil health, explains the Centre For Environmental Farming Systems. 

Regenerative techniques go far beyond organic standards in that they account for the entire ecosystem and soil health. 

How can I support Regenerative Fashion?

Luckily, we’re beginning to see more brands incorporate regenerative agriculture into their decision making. While Patagonia is probably the most well-known proponent, there are some other great companies like California Cloth Foundry, Christy Dawn, Coyuchi and Eileen Fisher that are prioritizing regenerative fibers in their designs.

Image credit: California Cloth Foundry – Regenerative Cotton Clothing

Certifications will also play a big part in the growth of regenerative fashion. California-based nonprofit Fibershed offers a Climate Beneficial verification, given to brands that incorporate carbon-capturing practices, improve biodiversity and restore healthy ecosystems. One example of this is their Climate Beneficial Wool, sourced from land stewards who are enhancing carbon drawdown with practices that regenerate soil health. 

Another program currently underway is the Regenerative Organic Certified Seal. To receive this verification, a company must be certified organic. The program is based on three main pillars: soil heath and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness. These types of programs ensure that consumers like us have the information we need to make informed choices, and most importantly, that farmers and producers have access to the tools they need to protect the environment. 

All that being said, it’s important to remember that certifications are rarely a perfect solution. Similar to organic, regenerative agriculture certifications can be challenging to navigate and require significant funding. Many communities and producers, including indigenous land stewards, have been regenerating the earth for generations on their own. So in addition to looking for certifications, we should prioritize traceability, transparency and a commitment to regenerative practices when buying new clothes and material. Check out this video to learn how a small-scale wool farm is actively restoring the land it’s on, proving you don’t need to be certified to make a difference.


Regenerative agriculture offers us an exciting opportunity to have a positive environmental impact through production. What other climate positive practices have you heard of? Let us know below!

I Tried a Virtual Styling Service – wearwell Review

posted in shopping tips, style
This post was kindly sponsored by wearwell and contains affiliate links, however all opinions and experiences are my own.

My wardrobe is unfortunately not at it’s peak. A lot of favorite clothes and unique pieces no longer fit and I’ve defaulted to a uniform of leggings, sweats, tees, and sweaters the past couple years – comfy but not inspiring. So when the opportunity came to try a sustainable personal styling service I jumped on it. As a work-from-home mom with not much time for shopping and also feeling in a style rut, I was curious to try it out and hoping to get some inspiration from the stylist.

Wearwell is a US-based marketplace of clothing and accessories from brands with vetted ethical and environmental values. They feature some of my favorite brands such as Tonlé, People Tree, Miakoda, Thought, and Mata Traders, as well as other brands I wasn’t as familiar with but also seems to have solid ethics and sustainability initiatives.

In addition to being a hub for sustainable fashion, they offer a membership which gives you discounts, perks, and access to their personal styling service. You can either get 4 seasonal styling sessions as part of their annual membership or purchase personal styling sessions whenever you like.

My Personal Styling Experience

First you need to fill out wearwell’s style quiz which is pretty straight forward and covers some basic things about what you like and what you’re looking for.

They will also keep your location, season, and climate in mind when making selections. You can even request your stylist picks certain pieces for a specific occasion or event if you have something coming up.

First Virtual Styling Session

My stylists picks quickly arrived in my inbox within a couple business days. I was quite happy with the first picks – some good staples and a couple pops of colour. I’m honestly pretty impressed that all the pieces they chose were things I would wear and also items that could fairly easily integrate into my capsule wardrobe. The only pick that wasn’t a good fit for me was the backpack and just because it’s made of leather, I think the style is quite cute.

I appreciated that instead of picking random items my stylist, Meg, considered how the pieces would go together so if I was getting a few items they would work well.

It also felt so nice to see clothing picks and know that it’s all from slow fashion brands I would actually want to support. Very different from my usual experience of looking for outfit inspo but 95% of the pieces don’t at all align with my values.

When booking the stylist I didn’t expect to be surprised by anything though. I figured the stylist would find items that I’ve already thought about or considered in some form or another. But… those amber trousers! The colour and cut is something I would have skimmed over when shopping and not thought much about, however now I can’t stop thinking about them. It was exactly the push and inspiration I was hoping for from this experience. I am very seriously considering adding them to my wardrobe, the only thing holding me back is that they’re made of denim and after years of soft, stretchy pants I’m not convinced I want a pair of jeans again. 😅 But I’m going to think more on them or maybe look for a similar colour in a different material.

Second Virtual Styling Session

About a month later I booked a second round of virtual styling. I wanted to have another set of selections before writing this review.

Again I think Meg did a great job! She nailed a good mix of versatile items, but also pieces that have interesting or unique details – like the very whimsical tiger print on the wrap top. Again all the pieces would be able to fairly easily integrate in my wardrobe.

I appreciate that she also thought about practical considerations, such as asking if I care about having bra coverage or not. You can give your stylist feedback to help with nailing future picks.

Going forward I would remove “accessories” from my list of items though because while I like them, I don’t tend to wear many different accessories so in hindsight it would have been better for to get another clothing pick instead of an accessory recommendation.


Is wearwell Personal Styling Worth it?

Overall I was really happy with my wearwell virtual styling experience. I got out of it exactly what I hoped for – some style inspiration and clothing recommendations that would work for my wardrobe from conscious fashion brands.

If you are someone who:

  • doesn’t have time for or doesn’t like shopping but wants to support sustainable and ethical brands
  • feels a little lost with your personal style
  • wants to get started with or explore more ethical/sustainable fashion options

then virtual styling can be a great way to get some guidance and inspiration, or basically have an expert shop for you!

It’s also a very nice bonus as part of their membership perks if you are a regular wearwell shopper. Why not get some stylist recommendations?

The only downside for me is that wearwell is currently only shipping within the US. So since I’m in Canada, if I fall in love with a piece my stylist picked I have to try and find it elsewhere.

Costs

If you would purchase from wearwell regularly then the annual membership at $8 per month (which includes a 10% discount, 4 seasonal styling sessions, and other perks) is definitely they way to go and could quickly pay for itself. Alternatively if you’re looking for just one styling session, you can purchase that on it’s own too.

If I lived in the US I could easily see myself using both the styling service and ordering clothing through wearwell, especially hard to find international brands like People Tree, and the membership being well worth it. Hopefully they’ll expand to Canada soon! 🤞

Although if you are in the US and interested in a membership, wearwell kindly shared a discount – you can use coupon code MYGREENCLOSET for 50% off an annual wearwell membership! So you can get their seasonal styling, a 10% discount, and free shipping for just $4 a month.


So overall I was very happy with how my personal styling sessions went and will likely be adding some of the stylist picks or (similar versions of) to my wardrobe.

How are you feeling about your personal style and wardrobe? Would you try a slow fashion virtual styling service?

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