At least a couple times a month I get an email from a brand asking if they can send me their slogan tee or tote bag. These brands have good intentions – they’re trying to spread awareness and many also donate a portion of sales from the product to organisations and charities working for the cause. However I always refuse – there are just so many tees and totes in the world.
I don’t think the environmental benefit of awareness or donation actually outweighs the impact of making the item in the first place.
So what is the impact of a tee or tote bag?
It’s hard to get exact numbers because production and use of clothing is quite complex, but one study by Carbon Trust of the impact of a conventional cotton tee found that the average t-shirt is responsible for about 15kg of CO2. However use plays a HUGE role because this amount of emissions is based on 50 wears of the t-shirt, if the tee is only used 4 times the impact skyrockets around 550% to 98kg of CO2.
Also important to note is this carbon footprint doesn’t include a slogan/graphic printed on, which usually is some form of plastic. So a printed slogan tee not only has a greater impact to make but likely also affects end-of-life recycling and biodegradability.
There are different studies that use different metrics which makes it hard to compare, but for the tote, since a cotton t-shirt and tote bag are roughly a similar size, I think it’s fair to say they have roughly a similar impact. Although I would estimate a tote bag gets more use than a t-shirt.
Do they get worn?
I am all for proudly making a statement with your clothing, but I’m curious how often people actually wear these slogan garments since I typically only see them come out of the closet for protests and environmental rallies. I also only seem to see social media influencers wearing them for the one image promoting the tee and then never again. 🤷♀️
The My Green Closet Facebook group weighed in on a poll about what kind of t-shirt they would rather have and wear (between a tee with a slogan they believed in or a solid colour tee) and 97% said they would want the solid, classic tee with less than 3% opting for the slogan tee.
Slogan tote bags do seem to be used more, but again do we really need more tote bags in the world?
I own one item with a slogan, my “There is no Planet B” bag from Remember Me Green, and for me a slogan bag is more practical and gets way more use than a slogan tee. However it’s also very important to point out that this bag is not another simple cotton tote – it’s a super durable bag made from recycled billboards that I use to go to the gym, beach, or on small trips and I got it knowing it will last me years, likely decades! The same cannot be said of most fabric shopping totes.
Is this really an effective way to support a cause?
In my experience and from chatting with others, a great, plain classic tee is a go-to wardrobe staple, while anything with a slogan tends to gather dust in the closet, or becomes a pj or gym shirt.
I also have seen brands that definitely aren’t producing their environmental or social justice slogan t-shirts and totes as sustainably and ethically as they could be, they’re basically buying pre-made items and printing on them. If you’re trying to support a cause, making sure your product is as sustainable and ethical as possible should be a top priority.
A better option
Forget the slogan and focus on making stylish, wearable, inclusive, and long-lasting garments as sustainably and ethically as you can. They will get way more wear/use which reduces their environmental impact and people will still want to talk about and share the cool conscious fashion they have, they don’t need it printed across their chest. Plus you can also still have a charity element to your product without a slogan.
What do you think?
Do you love wearing slogan tees? Do they collect dust in your closet? I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic and if they’re something you think conscious brands should keep making!
I love versatile clothing! Especially with a capsule wardrobe, having pieces that can be worn different ways gives you a lot more options for outfits and styling. I’ve found having a capsule wardrobe has helped me become a lot more creative with how I wear my clothes and playing around with styling them.
These are my favourite versatile types of garments – I think I’ll always have some version of these styles in my my wardrobe. It’s awesome not only how they can be dressed up or down, but also how they can be worn in different ways.
This post is in collaboration with one of my favourite brands, MATTER, and features some of their beautiful, artisan-made, versatile pieces. When designing they focus on function and timelessness so many of their pieces are adaptable and can be styled in numerous different looks.
I love how easy it is to throw on a jumpsuit and look really put-together with minimal effort. It’s a go-to piece for me when travelling because of how versatile it is. I’ve been able to wear it with heels to formal events and with sneakers casually. I’ve even been able to layer it for colder weather.
MATTER’s classic jumpsuit has been a staple in my wardrobe for years and to add to it’s versatility, it’s even been wearable through my pregnancy so far thanks to the clever adjustable waist.
The Tee Dress
A simple tee dress is a staple in my wardrobe. I love that it can be worn casually or dressed up with accessories like a belt, shoes, and jewellery. It’s light and easy to layer over, and because of the loose, simple cut it can be tied or gathered in different ways for different looks.
Maybe the ultimate versatile piece, because not only can it be worn many different ways, but a simple rectangle of fabric can also be used as a blanket, tied into a bag, used for cover/shade, and more.
I love this printed travel wrap/scarf from MATTER and as an extra versatility bonus – it’s even reversible!
The Shirt Dress
Another easy piece which can be worn as a dress, top, or layer. I love playing around with tying it up, or leaving it open.
It’s also been another great “maternity friendly” piece, although it’s getting pretty tight this late into my pregnancy.
Finally I got really into wearing a set of matching separates from MATTER before I was pregnant and can’t wait to pull them out of my closet again. You can get a jumpsuit look, but also wear the pieces separately. I even have a video about different ways you can wear a matching set!
I’d love to know what your favourite versatile garment is!
Daily life is increasingly fast-paced with more work and life demands plus the mental energy it takes being always connected through our phones and social media. Additionally consumption has sped up and we’ve been seeing an increase in cheap, disposable products over quality and craftsmanship. I don’t think this speed is physically, mentally, or financially healthy and also puts more pressure on our planet and resources.
For years I’ve been working on slowing down different aspects of life, from the food I eat, to my wardrobe, to how I spend my time. Sometimes I’m great at being mindful and intentional, sometimes it’s a challenge, but it’s still been one of the best things I’ve done.
This post is in collaboration with Son de Flor who creates beautiful, timeless, slow fashion linen garments. Their wrap dress is featured in the photos.
The slow movement really began and grew legs through food. People started realising processed, packaged, and fast food, while convenient, doesn’t nourish our bodies or minds in the same way. I think food has a beautiful ability to connect us to the environment and cultures we live in, and to the people around us through sharing meals.
My approach to slowing down food is to cook meals from scratch whenever possible and try to source whole, healthy ingredients, especially local and organic when I can. For me a perfect evening is cooking dinner together with my husband or friends and sharing the meal together, chatting over drinks into the evening.
Slowing down my approach to food not only means we eat healthier and more sustainably but I also get a lot of enjoyment and accomplishment from cooking, trying new recipes, learning new skills, and making something delicious for myself and others.
This is the area I focus on most with My Green Closet and honestly, slowing down my wardrobe and changing my fast fashion shopping habits has really changed my life. Our clothing has such a far reaching environmental and social impact, from the materials used, to the workers who make the textiles and cut and sew the clothes, to the wearer and how the garment is cared for and disposed of.
Having clothing that you love and can wear for years not only greatly reduces the environmental and ethical impacts of your wardrobe, but can also help you develop your personal style and find more joy and contentment with your clothing. This is in direct opposition to fast fashion which is built upon constantly shopping and disposing of clothes and therefore needs you to always want more and newer pieces. I have an ebook/workbook all about quitting fast fashion and slowing down your wardrobe if you’d like some guidance with that process.
Son de Flor is a great example of a brand who takes a slow fashion approach to their garments. They have a season-less collection with all the pieces designed to be timeless classics. Their garments are made from locally sourced linen, which is one of the most sustainable fibres, (I’ve talked before about how much I love linen) and are Oeko-Tex certified as well to ensure no harmful chemicals or dyes were used. Their production all happens in the EU, with many garments made-to-order (which reduces waste), and they ship everything without plastic packaging.
I love their dresses and this linen wrap dress is a romantic style that I’m sure will become a wardrobe staple for me. It’s been comfortable and easy for pregnancy, and I expect the wrap style will also be very helpful for easy nursing when the baby arrives. They also have other really gorgeous dress styles to check out!
Slowing down your life and how you spend your time can be amazing for stress-relief, mental clarity, physical health, happiness, and so much more.
It’s important to make time for things you enjoy (and try to do them without distractions). We all need time for relaxation, self-care, and to “recharge” – it’s helpful to plan that time into your day or week instead of putting it on the back burner.
The things I personally find most beneficial for a mental break from work and daily life are going for a walk, reading, or doing a creative project. Even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes, it can really help.
I also think it’s incredibly valuable to your relationships to plan time with your partner or family/friends – ideally turning those phones and distractions off and just enjoying each other’s company.
Finally pregnancy has been a big lesson in slowing down for me, as my pregnancy progresses simple things have become harder and more tiring forcing me to slow down. I’m trying to mentally prepare for when the baby comes and we have way less time than we currently do, but I still want to try my best to slow down and enjoy all the moments.
No matter how chaotic your life is, even incorporating small moments of mindfulness and trying to slow down where possible can be beneficial. From what we consume, to how we spend our time, there are so many areas where slowing down not only positively impacts our personal lives but can also positively impact our relationships, community, and planet.
I’d love to know in the comments if there are things you’re working on slowing down and being more mindful of!
Did you know hemp is one of the most sustainable fibres? It not only requires very little water but also doesn’t need harsh herbicides, grows very densely so takes up less land, and returns a lot of nutrients to the soil.
WAMA’s underwear is made from a blend of hemp, organic cotton, and a little spandex and comes in a couple classic cuts.
Their underwear is super comfy and durable – WAMA’s boxer briefs are my husband’s favourite pair of underwear (and my go-to gift for him).
-The Breakdown- Great for: Women’s and men’s briefs Conscious Highlights: sustainable materials, consciously made in China, vegan brand Size Range: XS – 2XL (women), S – 3XL (men) Ordering: Based in USA, ships international
Super comfy organic cotton undies. Knickey has 4 classic cuts in a nice palette of neutrals plus some limited edition colours. They also have the credentials to back up their conscious commitment, with GOTS, Oeko-Tex, and Fair Trade certifications.
-The Breakdown- Great for: classic, comfy briefs and thong Conscious Highlights: organic cotton, GOTS certified, Oeko-Tex certified, Fair Trade certified, use sustainable packaging, take-back recycling program Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in USA, ships to America and Canada
My favourite brand to get underwear from while I was living in Germany – Comazo’s earth collection is made from organic cotton and is GOTS and Fair Trade certified. They have a good range of cuts in a variety of colours.
The also have an earth collection for men and organic products for children.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Colourful styles for women and men Conscious Highlights: organic cotton, GOTS certified, Fair Trade certified Size Range: 36 – 48 Ordering: Based in Germany, ships to some EU countries
Soft, minimalist briefs made from Lenzing modal and organic cotton. Woron is a Danish brand that focuses on sustainable essentials.
-The Breakdown- Great for: soft, simple briefs Conscious Highlights: sustainable materials, Oeko-Tex certified, consciously made in Hungary and India, vegan brand Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Denmark, ships to Europe, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
I had to include Lara Intimates because they are my favourite bra brand, although I haven’t yet tried a pair of their undies. They make sexy mesh styles from surplus fabrics and notions from other lingerie brands and manufacture everything in-house in their London studio.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Sexy mesh briefs and thongs Conscious Highlights: reclaimed materials, made in-house, made-to-order, zero fabric waste, body-inclusive models Size range: XS – XL Ordering: based in UK, ships international
A great accessible option with many retailers around the world. Boody’s underwear is made from certified bamboo that is sustainably farmed. Their products are produced in WRAP certified factories.
-The Breakdown- Great for: classic styles in neutral colours Conscious Highlights: sustainable materials, Ecocert certified, Oeko-Tex certified, FSC certified, WRAP certified, vegan brand Size range: XS – XL Ordering: initially based in Australia but now with many branches internationally
Hara has a beautiful selection of colourful undies made from naturally-dyed bamboo. Their products are all made in Australia.
-The Breakdown- Great for: naturally dyed briefs and thongs Conscious Highlights: sustainable materials, natural dyes, Oeko-Tex certified fabrics, consciously made in Australia Size range: XS – XL Ordering: based in Australia, ships international
We have a lot of classic and neutral styles on this list so I wanted to include Thunderpants for those that love fun prints! Thunderpants started as a New Zealand based brand but now also has an off-shoot in America. They use organic cotton and they manufacture locally in both the US and NZ.
-The Breakdown- Great for: fun prints and full-coverage styles Conscious Highlights: organic cotton, made locally Size range: XS – L Ordering: based in USA or New Zealand, ships international
Azura Bay has a great selection of various conscious underwear brands.
🍁 Shopping from Canada? You can order WAMA, Organic Basics, and more conscious brands from Azura Bay.
They also have a US store where you can get non-American brands like Organic Basics without having to pay duties.
Also check out my bra round-up! Many of the brands featured have bottoms as well. 🙂
Are there any eco undies I missed that you love?
*Any photos not of me are from the brand’s website.
Since trying to live more sustainably and consciously I’ve had to re-learn the way I view price and budgets. Before I would go with whatever the lower-priced option was but now I’ve learned that it’s not always actually cheaper.
This post is in collaboration with BuyMeOnce who has an incredible, curated selection of products which have been vetted and researched for their durability and longevity.
When you factor in the longevity and cost-per-use of products, prices start to look very different. For example a relative recently mentioned that they have to replace their non-stick cooking pans about every 3-4 years; they typically pay around $45 CAD for a decent-quality pan. Comparatively we’re looking at investing in a Finex cast-iron skillet (which is recommended by BuyMeOnce). The 12″ size comes to about $265 Canadian which is significantly more, however the skillets also come with a lifetime guarantee (and are ethically made!). If we use the pan for the next 30+ years we’ve paid $265 meanwhile my relative has paid more than $385 replacing their cooking pans and about 8 pans have ended up in the landfill (most non-stick cookware isn’t recyclable). Plus if we look at the greater environmental impact, those 8 pans also used significantly more energy, chemicals, and resources to produce.
Can everyone just drop hundreds on a pan? Definitely not, and it’s a decision we’re really weighing in our budget, however there’s no denying it’s a better “deal” long-term.
I think with investment purchases you have to focus on the areas and items you use most. We really enjoy cooking meals at home and do it basically every day, so cookware is something we prioritise investing in. While someone who doesn’t cook much wouldn’t see the same value in cookware and might want to invest in a different area.
Comparing a few different fast fashion brands, a basic cotton tank seems to sell for about $6. On the other hand, BuyMeOnce recommends a tank which costs $38. I’ve found a good-quality tee/tank can last at least 3-4 years with proper care. So to break down the cost: for about 3 years the good-quality tank costs $38 but for the person who replaces their tank around 3 times a year they’d need to buy 9 of them which would cost $54. It not only is more money but also a lot more time spent shopping for those tanks. From an eco/ethical perspective the cheap tanks are also a lot more damaging since more resources, energy for both manufacturing and shipping, and labour (likely at unfair wages) went into producing all those shirts, and then there’s all the textile waste after.
It’s important to note though that avoiding heat – washing with cold water and air-drying – drastically increases the life of your clothes because heat breaks down spandex and the fibres very quickly, as well as causes fading. So even with high-quality clothing, you still need to care for them so they can last a long time.
It can mentally be very difficult to pay more for something. As I talk about in my psychology of shopping video, our brains weigh pleasure and pain when it comes to making a purchase – paying more means more “pain”, while feeling like we’re getting a good deal gives us extra dopamine. So intentionally paying more for a product is hard for our brains which is why we need to think of it as a long-term investment.
Money and budgets are always difficult with sustainability because high-quality and consciously made products do often cost more (although you can also find amazing quality products secondhand at very affordable prices). There is a lot of privilege involved in being able to spend more on better quality items, and it’s not something everyone can do. However if you have even a small budget to work with, focus on the areas where you’ll get the most benefit from investing in a better product – these are likely the things you use regularly and/or the items you have to replace most often. Focusing on these areas will give you the greatest impact with your budget and cost-per-use benefit of a better quality product.
I’d love to hear what things are most worth investing in for you!
Be sure to check out BuyMeOnce to find durable and long-lasting products for all areas of your life.
We’re getting into summer so it’s time to hit the pool or beach in some sustainable swimwear! 👙🏖
When it comes to swimwear, synthetic fabrics are actually a pro since they don’t retain as much water and dry a lot faster. For more sustainable swimwear, typically the best route is to look for recycled materials so at least no new resources were used to make it and existing materials like fishing nets and bottles are being repurposed.
As with all the roundups I try to have a mix of North American, European, and Australian brands.
HDH does it all with their clothing, swim, basics and intimates lines. Their swim collection is all made in-house at their studio in Minnesota from recycled polyester. Many of their styles are also available in plus size!
-The Breakdown- Great for: Solid colours in unique and versatile cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in-house, made-to-order, plus size, made in America Size Range: XS – +4.5 Ordering: Based in USA, ships international
An Italian brand with sleek cuts and mesh details. UND uses a recycled plastic lycra for the main parts of their suits, their suppliers are all part of an energy efficiency program, and they manufacture everything in Italy.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Minimal styles with see-through accents Conscious Highlights: Recycled and Oeko-Tex certified materials, seasonless design, made in Italy Size Range: S – L Ordering: Based in Italy, ships international
This Canadian brand uses Econyl® for their swimwear which is made from recycled nylon, regenerated from fishing nets, and plastic waste. Saltwater Collective‘s one and two-piece suits are all made locally in Toronto.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Simple, classic cuts in both bright and neutral colours Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in Canada Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Canada, ships to some international countries
Also featured in our sustainable bra round-up, Anek. is a brand that really believes in recycling. Their swimwear is made either in their Berlin studio or Polish factory from Econyl® recycled nylon and any detail materials and elastics are sourced from factory leftovers and deadstock.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Classic colours with cute cut-outs and strap details Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made in Germany or Poland Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Germany, ships international
Elle Evans is an Australian brand who was also featured in our sustainable activewear roundup. They have a mix of fun prints and solids in recycled nylon, and all swimsuits are made to order (mostly by Elle herself!) in their in-house studio.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Colourful prints & sexy cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, made-to-order, zero fabric waste, made in-house, made in Australia Size range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Australia, ships international
For those looking for fuller coverage or more modest swimwear, Jessica Rey has a great selection of feminine and retro-inspired styles. Their swimwear is all made in a fair-wage factory in LA from recycled nylon.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Fuller-coverage suits and retro cuts Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in America Size Range: XS – 1X Ordering: based in US, ships international
This Barcelona-based brand has a collection of colourful and unique swim styles. Some of Reset Priority‘s suits are made from recycled nylon, and they use OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified fabrics, as well Xtra Life Lycra® which prolongs the life of the garment.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Unique cuts, details, and prints Conscious Highlights: some recycled and certified materials, made in Spain and Italy Size Range: XS – XL Ordering: Based in Spain, ships international
I first heard about Nettle’s Tale years ago when they were crowdfunding to launch the brand and loved their celebration of body-diversity. They take fit very seriously and all their suits are locally made in Vancouver from recycled polyester, plus the sale of each swimsuit donates 10% to a select charity.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Cuts designed to fit and flatter many body types Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, gives back, plus size, made in Canada Size Range: XS – 2X Ordering: Based in Canada, ships international
This Australian brand makes staple swim styles in their own prints. Shapes in the Sand uses Econyl® recycled nylon, takes a zero waste approach to their fabric cutting, uses plastic-free hygiene liners, and manufactures everything in Australia.
-The Breakdown- Great for: Unique prints in classic cuts Conscious Highlights: Recycled materials, zero fabric waste, made in Australia Size Range: AU/UK 6-14 Ordering: Based in Australia, ships international
A playful swimwear brand from Austria, Margaret and Hermione makes their swimsuits from recycled nylon with their own prints. They use recycled and sustainable materials for all their packaging and tags and their suits are all made in Croatia.
-The Breakdown- Great for: minimalist styles and artistic prints Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, sustainable packaging, made in Europe Size Range: 34 – 42 Ordering: Based in Austria, ships international
BOLD Swim has sexy and classic styles (some in plus size as well!). I wanted to include them in particular though because unlike the other brands who use recycled materials, they actually make their suits from a special “biodegradable” nylon fabric called Amni Soul Eco®. Like with most proprietary fabrics it’s very difficult to get more information about how exactly it works so I am always a bit skeptical but the brand claims it will biodegrade in landfills.
-The Breakdown- Great for: solid colour swimsuits in brights and neutrals Conscious Highlights: biodegradable materials, plus size, sourced and made in Brazil Size Range: S – 3X Ordering: based in USA, ships international
Since I’ve been pregnant, swimming has become my new favourite activity – the weightlessness feels amazing plus it’s a great full-body workout! I didn’t want to get a maternity swimsuit since I wanted something that would last, and the bottoms I had still fit (they’re both from Underprotection and one I got through Azura Bay). However the top I had wasn’t adjustable so I needed to get a new one and found this great reversible one from June’s eco collection with MEC.
June Swimwear is a Canadian company that makes their swimsuits locally in Montreal. Their collection mainly uses conventional fabrics although their recent collaboration with outdoor brand MEC now uses recycled materials which is awesome to see and something I hope they will continue.
-The Breakdown- Great for: simple cuts and surf-friendly styles in colourful prints and solids Conscious Highlights: recycled materials (MEC collaboration), made in Canada Size Range: S – XL Ordering: based in Canada, ships international
I also want to give a shout-out to Remember Me Green who gifted me this eco-friendly beach tote which has been the perfect bag for the pool, picnics, and everyday use! I previously used a cotton tote but especially with swimming more regularly it was always getting wet and dirty. RMG’s bags are all made from recycled NYC billboard materials so they’re not only sustainable but also water-resistant, easy to clean, and durable.
Fashion has always had seasons. Initially it was 2 collections – for spring/summer and fall/winter, then it turned into 4 seasonal collections, then multiple deliveries throughout the season, and now with fast fashion new collections are on the floor every week. The fashion industry needs to slow down for the sake of our planet and garment workers, but instead of just going back to 4 or 2 seasons, why not ditch the seasonal collections all together?
One of the many things I love about slow fashion brand MATTER (who kindly sponsored this post) is how they have a seasonless collection. So instead of producing large collections every few months they have a core selection of garments which they occasionally add styles to or offer existing styles in different fabrics/colours.
The Benefits of Seasonless Fashion
Well Designed Garments
If you have to create 30-100 new designs every 3 months or less, how much time and energy can you put into each one? Having seasonless collections allows designers to fully work through and test new styles. When I was doing assistant design, fitting, and pattern work with fashion brands, it was common for designers to include styles they weren’t totally happy with just because they had a minimum number to hit and a tight deadline. Some brands also end up having to rush styles due to the tight deadlines so they don’t have time for proper fittings.
A recent addition to MATTER’s collection, their Work Jumpsuit, took 15 months to design, test, fit, and develop the final pattern! 😮 This kind of attention and work put into one style would be impossible if it wasn’t for their seasonless model.
It also means designers can create pieces that work with their existing and best-selling styles. Instead of coming up with a totally new collection, designers can focus on augmenting the existing collection – maybe a new bottom that works with the popular tops or a layering piece to go with the best-selling dresses. Brands can work on creating a more versatile and functional collection instead of trying to sell a whole new set of clothes every season.
Less Pressure on Factories
Another huge benefit is that factories can have consistent, paced production. Currently factories often have incredibly busy times with lots of pressure and overtime to get all the garments ready for the season, and then quieter periods before the next season’s production ramps up. Manufacturing outside of this seasonal roller-coaster would not only be less stressful for workers but also provide more continuous, stable employment since currently some factories just hire temporary staff for the busy times.
It also gives brands the ability to work with artisans and craftspeople. Using traditional techniques like Ikat dyeing, block printing, and hand-weaving takes more time than fast fashion’s quick turnaround can allow. Unfortunately we’re losing a lot of these beautiful textile arts and cultural methods with current industry demands. Slowing down fashion and allowing longer production cycles means that brands like MATTER can support and share handmade, artisan textiles – making their pieces unique and imbued with a rich history of textile craft.
A seasonless collection gives consumers more time to think about purchases. If a style is only available for a short time, you tend to feel as though you have to buy it immediately which can result in impulse purchases that might rarely get worn. Having time to think about getting a piece means customers can make sure it’s a good investment for their wardrobe without the pressure that it might disappear soon.
I love that with a seasonless collection I can recommend favourite pieces I’ve had for a while and they’re still available. Often I get asked where I got a certain item of clothing and the style will no longer exist because it was from last season or last year. However I can go on MATTER’s shop and see the same styles they’ve always had, for example you can still get my favourite jumpsuit which I’ve been wearing for a couple of years!
Fashion creates a ton of textile waste and a good portion of it is pre-consumer or production waste. Brands have to order a certain amount of fabric and it might not all get used, for example a brand could have too much fabric for the amount of clothing being cut or they might cancel or change a style. This “deadstock” or “roll-end” fabric will typically end up collecting dust somewhere. However with a seasonless collection, even if the brand has to order a larger amount than their production needs, they can continue to use the fabric in future production runs – it won’t be “last season’s fabric” and go to waste.
We Can Ditch Fashion Shows
Maybe you see this as a con, but personally I think they’re completely unnecessary today. It used to be that buyers would attend fashion shows to order next season’s styles and customers would get a preview of what’s coming up. Now fast fashion has totally changed the game – knocking-off trends from the runway and having them in stores a few weeks later.
I appreciate that a lot of the smaller conscious brands I support don’t prioritize putting on a huge, expensive catwalk show and instead choose to spend their budgets in ways that better align with their mission and values – such as paying their workers fairly, reducing their environmental impact, and showing not only the final garments but giving us insight and transparency into how they’re made.
Helps Develop Your Personal Style
Picking up whatever current trends are in the stores is an easy way to build an “in style” wardrobe, but you’ll also be spending a lot of money, creating tons of waste and pollution, and will be wearing basically the same clothes as everyone else. Doing this also doesn’t seem to make people happy or satisfied with their wardrobe – everyone I’ve talked to who truly loves their clothes has cultivated their own personal style.
Seasonless fashion also means the removal of seasonal trends so consumers can focus on the styles of clothes they love instead of feeling pressured to update their wardrobe with the latest fashion.
I also think removing the constraints of trendy looks helps you to get creative with your clothes. For example I really enjoy finding different ways to wear my MATTER matching set:
No Clearance Needed
To get ready for the next season, brands have to get rid of stock. They’ll usually try to sell as much as possible on sale, but there’s often still leftovers. Some brands will sell these to overstock stores (which I think encourages over-production by giving brands the opportunity to have someone else deal with their excess garments) or in extreme cases brands have actually been found burning any remaining stock.
With a seasonless collection, brands don’t have deadlines to get rid of product and don’t create overstock waste. They can offer discounts if they choose or to show appreciation for their customers, not because they have to get rid of out-of-season clothes.
To be honest, I can’t see conventional fashion brands ditching seasons anytime soon because with it they always have new product to push and it helps them sell more clothes. However I think a seasonless collection fits perfectly with the values espoused by the slow fashion movement. It’s wonderful to see prominent conscious brands like MATTER taking this route and I hope more brands will follow.
Bags are tricky when it comes to sustainability – there are a lot of different materials and they all have pros and cons. Leather comes with a slew of tanning and cruelty issues while the vegan alternatives tend to be made of plastics or have plastic coatings. There are no “perfect” choices however I’ve rounded up some options and brands which I think are producing their products more consciously. There’s a good variety of options to meet different needs, styles and ethical/sustainable values and like my other round-ups, there is also a mix of North American and European based brands.
Cork seems to currently be one of the better options for sustainable bags. It’s a natural and renewable material (although cork materials typically come with a synthetic backing) and it can be flexible and durable similar to leather.
Made locally in Portugal, Corkor‘s bags use FSC® certified, sustainably harvest cork. They have a great range of styles and natural colours, and also are PETA-Approved which ensures there are no animal products used throughout the production.
-The Breakdown- Products: backpacks, crossbodies, handbags, clutches, messenger bags and wallets Great for: classic styles with a natural cork look Conscious Highlights: vegan, natural cork material, FSC® certified, locally made in Portugal Ordering: based in Portugal, ships international
A Canadian brand who manufactures their bags in family-run workshops in Portugal from Portuguese cork. Rok Cork has a variety of classic bag styles but made from cork with interesting colours and details.
-The Breakdown- Products: totes, satchels, crossbodies, and wallets Great for: chic styles in a variety of colours Conscious Highlights: natural cork material, ethically made in Portugal Ordering: based in Canada, ships international
Made from Recycled Materials
I think recycled materials are the most sustainable option since no new materials have to be created (saving a lot of resources and energy) and it also saves existing materials from going to waste.
Using almost entirely re-purposed and recycled materials (like tarpaulin, sails, advertising banners, and car safety belts) grünBAG makes a collection of long-lasting and functional bags. I own one of their travel/gym bags and both my husband and I use their toiletry bags and they are not only really functional but also amazingly durable.
-The Breakdown- Products: backpacks, shoulder bags, sports bags, and cases/pouches Great for: sporty, colourful and durable bags Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in-house or in an atelier in Poland Ordering: based in Denmark. ships international
Elvis & Kresse use innovative and long-lasting materials like repurposed fire-hoses, printing blankets, and parachute silk for their bags, they also have a collection made from leather off-cuts. As another sustainable feature they offer lifetime repairs on their products.
-The Breakdown- Products: shoulder bags, clutches, travel bags, and wallets Great for: classic bags in unique and durable materials Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, made in-house or in a factory in Turkey, gives back Ordering: based in UK, ships international
Upcycled bags using unique materials such as vintage car interiors, seat belts, and aviation materials. All Mariclaro bags are made in their studio in Ontario, Canada.
-The Breakdown- Products: messenger bags, laptop bags, briefcases, backpacks, travel bags, and wallets Great for: functional unisex bags made from unique materials Conscious Highlights: repurposed and upcycled materials, made in Canada Ordering: based in Canada, ships international
Made from Leather
Leather isn’t something I personally buy new for ethical reasons, however I understand that other people like it for the look and durability. So here are a few brands producing leather bags in a more sustainable way (and using safer tanning methods – chrome-tanned leather is something you want to avoid):
Of all the leather brands out there, CGC stands out for their transparency and sustainability. They have a traceable supply chain, work with farmers to focus on regenerative farming, and only source hides from AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) farms. The leather is vegetable tanned and the bags are made in the US.
-The Breakdown- Products: currently 1 handbag and wallet style Great for: transparent and sustainable leather Conscious Highlights: traceable and certified, supports regenerative farming, vegetable tanned, made in USA Ordering: based in US, ships in the US
Based in The Netherlands, O My Bag has a wide-variety of styles made from leather that is locally sourced near the tannery; it comes from either local meat by-products or from cows that died a natural death, and then goes through an “eco-tanning” process. The bags are then ethically made in one of their factories.
-The Breakdown- Products: large selection of women’s and men’s bags Great for: minimalist leather styles Conscious Highlights:“eco-tanned” leather, transparent and fair production, carbon-offset shipping emissions Ordering: Based in Amsterdam, ships international
Bags made from fish-leather, sourced as a by-product from the food industry (which would otherwise be thrown away) that is then vegetable-tanned. Ms. Bay also uses recycled linings and packaging, and creates their bags in SA 8000 as well as some fair trade certified factories in India.
-The Breakdown- Products: crossbodies, clutches and wallets Great for: luxury, minimal purses Conscious Highlights: rescued/recycled materials, vegetable tanning, certified factories Ordering: based in Belgium, ships within Europe
Sourcing natural, artisan handwoven textiles such as nettle fabric, organic denim, and organic Ikat. EST WST then sews their bags from these materials in the USA (the bags also have vegetable tanned leather handles and accents).
-The Breakdown- Products: backpacks, totes, and small pouches Great for: unique textiles and practical designs Conscious Highlights: artisan textiles (paid a fair wage), natural materials, made in USA Ordering: based in US, ships international
Made from Synthetics (PU)
I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Matt & Nat and their greenwashing, so I wanted to share at least one alternative for vegan synthetic bags. It’s actually been incredibly challenging to find brands in this category that have good sustainability, quality, and are transparent about their ethics and manufacturing, but I wanted to find brands that at least don’t use PVC (which is a lot worse than PU) and I’d say are a better alternative if you’re looking for a “Matt & Nat style” vegan-leather bag. Although if you know of any better brands in this category please let me know!
I purchased a cross-body years ago from Angela Roi when my main criteria for bags was just that it was vegan. I’m happy that, with a little care, the bag is still a major workhorse in my wardrobe and my go-to bag.
Angela Roi makes their vegan, polyurethane (PU) bags in Korea and in my experience they are quite high-quality. While I really like my Angela Roi bag, when it needs to be replaced I will likely try to find a more sustainable material and brand that is more transparent about their ethical standards.
-The Breakdown- Products: crossbodies, shoulder bags, and handbags Great for: a non-PVC Matt & Nat alternative Conscious Highlights: vegan Ordering: based in US, ships with US (although you can also order internationally from these stores)
Colourful bags made from raffia (a fibre from raffia palm leaves). AAKS bags are all made in Ghana by fairly-paid artisans using a traditional hand-weaving technique. (Bags also have leather details)
-The Breakdown- Products: shoulder bags, crossbodies, and totes Great for: brightly coloured and patterned statement bags Conscious Highlights: natural materials, made by local artisans Ordering: based in Ghana, ships international (for free)
HFS Collective uses a variety of eco-friendly materials such as recycled and deadstock materials, Pinatex, raffia, organic cotton, and more. The bags are all made locally in Los Angeles.
-The Breakdown- Products: belt bags, crossbodies, and wallets Great for: small bags and belt bags Conscious Highlights: vegan, sustainable materials, locally made in LA, gives back Ordering: based in US, ships international
All images aside from the ones for grünBAG and Angela Roi are from the brand’s websites.
Do you have any favourite sustainable bag brands I missed?
It’s a new season and time for a new capsule! This one’s a little different for me though as it has to be a maternity-friendly capsule, so it has some new pieces you haven’t seen before.
The video above talks through my planning and some of the new pieces, and below is a list of all the items included.
This capsule does have more pieces than I would usually have in a spring or summer capsule wardrobe because I’ll have to remove a few of them in the next couple months as they’ll no longer fit, but I wanted to include them for now.
18. Grey and black tank dress – old 19. Grey tee dress – Kowtow 20. Floral linen dress – handmade/DIY 21. Grey/purple gathered sleeve dress – Love Justly 22. Green/grey flared tee dress – secondhand 23. Dark red maxi dress – secondhand 24. Navy Ikat jumpsuit – Matter
Layers & Jackets
25. Rust cardigan – Eileen Fisher 26. Beige cardigan – old 27. Black plaid draped shirt – secondhand 28. Grey/brown oversized jacket – Naz 29. Denim jacket – secondhand 30. White draped jacket – old
Also thank you to Swedish Stockings for kindly sending me a pair of their recycled maternity tights, they’ve been really useful especially since spring can still be pretty cool here. (The knee-high socks in the video are also from them!)
Putting together this maternity-friendly capsule was a new experience and I hope it works out the way I planned, however each capsule is a learning experience and you get better as you do them; so I’m also going to be flexible if things don’t work out and I have to make adjustments.
I’d love to know what you think of my spring/summer capsule 🙂
Also if you’re a supporter on Patreon, be sure to check out the exclusive thrift haul video I made for this capsule wardrobe!