We all know that the industry is full of unsustainable materials and practices. However, there’s still hope. Some luxury houses serve as a beacon light among a myriad of fast fashion giants. They not only honor the definition of luxury by producing unique pieces embedded in quality, but also make efforts to protect the environment.
In this guide, we have hand-picked 10 luxury sustainable fashion brands that are leading the sustainable fashion movement.
1. Stella McCartney – Pioneering Sustainable Fashion
As one of the many big names in the fashion industry, we must mention Stella McCartney. With 51 stores located in high-density cities like Tokyo, Paris, and Milan, and her clothes being distributed to over 75 countries, Stella has been pioneering sustainability for a long time now.
Introducing her partnership with Clevercare in 2014, Stella created videos on the topic of caring for clothes, talking about proper washing, temperature, ironing, drying and dry cleaning techniques, having first introduced this idea at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2014.
What’s more, she has created a sustainable branch under the not-so-sustainable giant Kering, which includes brands like Alexander McQueen or Gucci, receiving a modest score of 41/100 on the KnowTheChain index in 2020. Stella McCartney as a brand is not only against fur, or almost any animal-sourced material, she also has a zero-deforestation policy and only ships her pieces in sustainable materials.
2. Mara Hoffman
Aiming to reevaluate the relationship customers have with their clothes, Mara Hoffman is also one of the leaders for change in the fashion industry, sustainability-wise. Starting in March 2015, she began making her way towards sustainability, earning the Repreve Champions of Sustainability Leading the Change Award from Unifi in 2019.
By now, Hoffman has become one of the most sustainable brands on the market with the brand, Mara Hoffman, and also hosts a secondhand shop called “Full Circle”, which helps clothes get a second life, rather than ending up in landfills. Getting a “Good” rating on the GoodOnYou Index, Mara Hoffman is a on great road to eco-success.
3. Eileen Fisher
Another brand that has received a “Good” rating on the GoodOnYou Index, Eileen Fisher has also made a big impact on the fashion industry. Creating her brand in 1984, Fisher was a pioneer for sustainability since day one, limiting the usage of animal-based materials, which was celebrated by many.
In 2018, Eileen Fisher launched an iconic upcycled collection in collaboration with a sustainable, downtown New York brand, Public School. As a result of complex reconstructing practices, the collection defied the idea that “recycled means patchwork.” Instead, it transcended the realms of traditional dress-making – making materials define designs, rather than the opposite.
Fisher has also launched many environmental initiatives, such as the Renew and Waste No More secondhand shops, which closed the loop of consumption and saved many garments from ending up in the landfill. She also collaborated with environmental initiative organizations and artisanal brands, empowering women through the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute.
Overall, Eileen has created quite a transparent brand that traces most animal products to the first stage of production and most of its supply chain. And with its innovative upcycling, renewal, and zero waste processes, the brand left its mark on sustainable fashion – redefining it into a creative yet eco-friendly endeavor.
4. Bogdar – Luxury Sustainable Fashion Brands for Occassionwear
A family-owned Bulgarian brand, Bogdar, can also pride itself on its path towards sustainability. While they do not claim to be 100% sustainable, as mentioned on their website, they swear to “find the most sustainable path at every opportunity”. Committed to consistent progress, the party glam womenswear brand has been doing very well in terms of material usage – over 50% of their fabrics are certified and almost 100% are sustainable.
The brand incorporates silk, an animal-sourced material
Besides using silk, an animal-sourced material that we have already talked about, all their manufacturing takes place in a singular in-house atelier with only 16 employees, which minimizes the chances of possible worker exploitation or abuse. The workers are actually the ones in the preview shots on their website, allowing customers to peek a little bit behind the curtain that is the otherwise completely invisible production process.
5. Christy Dawn
The American-based vintage brand is one of the many brands that have evolved into more sustainable and “greener” ones in order to help the environment, Christy Dawn being one of them.
But Aras Baskauskas, the CEO of Christy Dawn and the husband of ChristyPeterson, the owner and creator behind the brand says that “We don’t need to be sustainable, we need to be regenerative.” This philosophy may have been an inspiration behind the idea of using deadstock and leftover fabrics in order to produce new pieces.
Though, they plan on changing this business model as they say they realize this is not enough to be as sustainable as they want to be. They started a positive-impact initiative, working on a pesticide-free cotton farm in India, and have since started producing more “Farm To Closet” pieces sourced from this farm. This is quite an innovative approach to fashion and as the data claims, their 24 acres of farmland is able to absorb over 190 billion tons of CO2, which could be a real step towards healing, rather than only not causing further damage.
6. Nudie Jeans
The Swedish denim brand has been recognized for the effort they have been making to become as sustainable as possible and truly, they live up to the expectations. They trace most suppliers from all tiers of their supply chain, pay their workers a fair wage, and according to their own sustainability report in the year of 2022, 95,6% of their total used materials were sustainable.
While some may claim that the brand is unsustainable, due to the prevalence of leather, exotic animal hair, or silk in its product offerings, these materials are healthy and biodegradable. What’s more, Nudie Jeans incorporates organic cotton into its products, which encompasses 92,8% of all the fabrics they used in 2022.
In previous years, the brand also started repairing the jeans it produced for customers in-store, hoping to reduce the amount of clothes bought and thrown away. The number of jeans repaired rounded up to 65,000 globally in 2022. Receiving a “Great” score on the GoodOnYou Index means there is definitely something they are doing right in terms of sustainability and ecology.
7. Beaumont Organic
In our selection of sustainable fashion luxury brands, Beamount Organic shines as an exemplary choice. From fabrics to manufacturing, the brand checks off all the boxes when it comes to sustainability.
With 97% of its production happening in Portugal, the brand goes against the malevolent practice of offshoring. Instead, it contributes to the local communities, measures up to the ‘Made in Europe’ label.
What’s revolutionary about this brand lies in transparency. Under product descriptions, you can go through the ‘Sustainability’ tab and track where each garment came from. This makes it convenient for you to peruse the brand’s supply chain – from raw materials to production methods – in real time.
8. Arnsdorf – Sustainable Fashion Luxury Brand
Another honorable mention in our list of luxury sustainable fashion brands is Arnsdorf. Founded in 2006 by the visionary Jade Sarita Arnott, the brand hails from the shores of Australia.
As one of today’s seasonless fashion brands, Arnsdorf deviates from the norm of seasonal cycles. Instead, it opts to curate limited edition releases and an unchanging core collection. This delicate dance between sustainability and timeless elegance defines Arnsdorf’s philosophy, ensuring that their garments remain relevant season after season.
With the esteemed B Corp Certification under their belt and the recognition as an Ethical Clothing Australia certified label, Arnsdorf stands as an exemplar among luxury sustainable fashion brands. Noteworthy is their groundbreaking achievement of the inaugural National Designer Award for Sustainability, which cemented their role as pioneers in the realm of eco-fashion, where style meets environmental consciousness.
9. Marine Serre
Marine Serre defines the word, “regenerate”, as “a practice, a program, a label, a journey, unmode de vie.” Committed to circularity, the brand breathes new life into post-consumer products, with half of its collections involving upcycling materials.
Among Marine Serre’s collections, you will come across sustainable materials and pieces, such as GRScertified recycled nylon mesh, recycled denim from 1990-2000s, regenerated popcorn tops, upcycled GRS-certified T-shirts, and more.
10. Benchellal – Sustainable Haute Couture Brand
If you’re a fan of sustainable haute-couture, this brand is worth putting on your radar. Encompassing upcycled deadstock materials, Benchellal upholds the highest ecological standards while crafting the most marvelous designs.
Imagine a world, in which practicality becomes art. This is the concept behind the Benchellal – a brand that emerged thanks to the designer’s practical methods of clothe-making. A student at Amsterdam Fashion Academy, Benchellal collected deadstock fabrics in local marketplaces, later transforming them into timeless designs that defy the ordinary.
His approach to dress-making lies in a simple idea – “to produce from what is available.”
Why Care About Sustainable Luxury?
Unfortunately, a higher price tag and top-notch marketing doesn’t necessarily translate into ethicality. For this reason, it’s crucial to be selective even while shopping at luxury brands.
So, what defines sustainable fashion luxury brands? It’s all about the whole process, from obtaining materials to their disposal – which could encompass recycling, upcycling, or repurposing – with the aim to create a better world. What’s more, sustainable luxury aims to put its profit margins towards raising worker rights in certain countries, social justice, animal welfare, ecology, and ultimately, carbon neutrality.
Overall, sustainable luxury goes against the concept of planned obsolescence, which refers to the practice of producing cheap, disposable items, so that consumers keep coming back for more.