Purpose-driven creators are taking over the fashion space, innovating the way that fashion is consumed and appreciated. From the use of recycled materials to the treatment of garment workers, the fashion industry has the ability to drive consumer habits and create a space for conscious consumerism to thrive. With more brands and high fashion designers embracing slow fashion and encouraging sustainable practices in this industry, consumers are able to feel comfort in knowing that their purchase will lessen environmental impacts. More consumers are putting pressure on brands to be transparent about integrating sustainability into their supply chain and ensuring that they prioritize both people and the planet. These five designers are using their platform and brand to embrace the slow fashion movement and create planet-forward pieces using meaningful materials to extend the life of their clothing.
1. Stella McCartney
Since the birth of her fashion brand in 2001, Stella McCartney has become a household name for her sustainable initiatives in fashion with a cruelty-free ethos to exclude leather, feathers, fur, and skin from her clothing. With a mission to bring nonconformity and activism to the fashion space, Stella has continued to embrace several eco-friendly practices integrating innovative materials and design strategies throughout the supply chain that doesn’t sacrifice creative vision or quality. Her company has made commitments not only to reduce its carbon footprint but also to bring awareness to social sustainability. Two of these innovative materials displayed in her collections include regenerated cashmere in place of virgin cashmere and sustainable viscose. Since its inception, her company has begun using organic cotton and went completely PVC free in 2010. While continuing to integrate circularity and transparency into her brand, Stella McCartney has established a planet-forward powerhouse.
2. Mara Hoffman
Mara Hoffman’s approach to sustainable fashion is to design and manufacture garments that reduce environmental impact while creating greater awareness about conscious consumerism. Mara Hoffman is partnered with the Blue Business Council, a network of companies working to protect oceans, coastlines, rivers, bays, and streams. She is also partnered with a host of other climate-focused organizations that are balancing workers’ rights and environmental concerns such as Canopy and Earth Matter. Her line is intentional with each material used and prioritizes recycled and organic fibers that are cruelty-free. Three unique materials used in her clothing line include Econyl, Repreve, and Hemp. Due to nylon waste being a major polluter, Econyl uses waste from fishing nets and plastic extending its life cycle and transforming it into a high-quality durable yarn. Wondering where some of your recycled bottles are going? Repreve is a leading material turning landfill waste, including plastic bottles, into a moisture-wicking fiber. Mara Hoffman is truly integrating the power of plants into her clothing by utilizing the magical properties of Hemp. This plant, which is four times stronger than cotton, is lightweight, reduces unwanted odors, and naturally filters UV light.
3. Eileen Fisher
In 2009, Eileen Fisher launched her eco-friendly initiative called “Green Eileen” incorporating eco-friendly materials such as organic linen and initiatives such as certified fair trade and circular design strategies to extend the life cycle of the piece of clothing. On her website, Eileen showcases stories of artists and designers exploring the memories and impressions that clothing has made on them and the benefit of extending the life cycle of your clothing. She uses storytelling as a method of empowering her customers to make conscious choices as consumers. An inspiring quote that Eileen Fisher leaves with her supporters and customers is, “becoming more mindful about clothing means looking at every fiber and every seed and every dye and seeing how to make it better. We don’t want sustainability to be our edge, we want it to be universal.”
4. Gabriela Hearst
From its inception, Gabriela Hearst has created strategic business collaborations, material selections, and visions that reflect the heart of slow fashion. She partnered with a non-profit women’s cooperative called Manos del Uruguay that allows women in rural communities to take advantage of opportunities in fashion through her knit collection. For many of her pieces, she focuses on circularity and durability by reusing antique Turkish rugs, recycled cashmere, and aloe-treated linen that reduces water consumption. Apart from her environmental promises, Garbiela Hearst is also using technology to provide transparency to her customers. She has partnered with EON, a digital platform dedicated to tracing a product’s life cycle and providing customers with accurate information regarding the production and manufacturing process of their product.
5. Nia Thomas
Nia Thomas is a sustainable fashion brand founded in 2018 promoting connection and love through clothing. The founder Nia Thomas graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and has since become a frequent flier, traveling all over South America to source beautiful one-of-a-kind beads and mesmerizing fabrics. Nia’s customer base is attracted to her brand because of its incredible embroidery and decorative yarns which are stapled products in her line. Her team uses cellulose fibers, plant-based dyes made from food scraps, and deadstock fabric to reduce landfill waste and chemicals polluting waterways. This process would not be possible without a great team of creatives beside her. Nia Thomas prioritizes domestic production and has a small female-led team of garment workers in New York City that transform her visions into pieces that merge art and eclectic designs.
Slow fashion takes into consideration every step of the supply chain and prioritizes extending the life cycle of a piece of clothing. Fashion is not only a form of self-expression but tells a story about who you are and what you value. By spending more time ensuring that workers are paid fairly, materials are durable and sustainable, and brands are using their platform to contribute to sustainability education, the slow fashion industry can set a precedent for how consumers think about their clothing. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of water and accounts for 10% of carbon emissions. Slow fashion has the potential to greatly reduce carbon emissions, minimize ocean pollution, and protect human rights. Next time you are tempted to refresh your wardrobe, think about secondhand options and continue telling a story through a gently loved piece.