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The best retailers offering ethical high-street fashion

Feel good about adding luxury to your wardrobe by shopping the brands making sustainability their mission.

High-end fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world and it isn't difficult to see why. Clothing may be essential, but the fashion market allows us an opportunity to use it for much more than covering up. From expressing individuality to making political statements, clothing plays a huge role in our day to day lives. As much as we love it though, the industry has a lot to answer for.

If you don't know where your latest clothing purchase was made, what its environmental impact was or if the workers were treated fairly in the process, it might be time to switch to labels offering complete visibility on all of these agendas. To get you started, we've rounded up the top high-end retailers making strides to change the fashion world into a more ethically-focused one.

1. Reformation

With its slogan, "Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We're #2", Reformation is a label that has truly dedicated itself to being as ethical as possible. The cult US fashion label tracks its environmental footprint and even sends out quarterly sustainability reports so shoppers are fully aware of what their money is supporting. You can shop the brand from Nordstrom.

  • The label invests in green building infrastructure to minimise its waste, water and energy footprints.
  • Each product page of the brand's website tells you exactly what kind of impact the garment has on the environment.
  • The brand also partners with programs like the Brazilian Rosewood Amazon Conservation Project to replace the resources it's used. Through purchasing landfill gas offsets, contributing millions of gallons of freshwater to wetlands in California and protecting the Amazon rainforest from deforestation, Reformation makes a huge attempt to offset any resources used to make its products.

2. People Tree

A pioneer in sustainable fashion, People Tree has been working with Fair Trade cotton farmers for the past 25 years to produce its seasonal collections. As the first fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label, you can shop their gorgeous range of apparel, underwear and jewellery guilt-free from the People Tree site and ASOS.

  • All collections by the brand are made of sustainable materials such as organic cotton, TENCEL™ Lyocell and responsible wool .
  • Traditional artisan skills such as hand weaving, hand knitting, hand embroidery and hand block printing are employed in the production process. As well as being a more environmentally friendly approach, it also creates employment opportunities in rural areas where work is often scarce.
  • All clothes are dyed using low impact dyes, free from harmful chemicals.

3. Mango

Mango, also known as M.N.G, has been a longstanding supporter of ethical fashion. Using fabrics like TENCEL™ Lyocell, recycled polyester and organic cotton, for many of its clothes, the label is committed to strengthening its approach towards responsible fashion. Shop the range of clothing, shoes and accessories from THE ICONIC.

  • The brand launched its third Mango Committed collection last year as part of its Take Action program. The initiative aims to see the company increase the number of garments made from sustainable fabrics by 50% before 2022.
  • Mango has also recently joined the Better Cotton Initiative to increase its commitment to the use of sustainable cotton.
  • The label also analyses all of its garments to ensure they meet the strictest chemical safety and health standards.

4. Vero Moda

Scandi-chic label Vero Moda has recently released a new collection which focuses both on sustainability and modern elegance. Titled Aware, the line uses Tencel Lyocell, recycled cotton, organic cotton and recycled polyester to create its wardrobe staples. You can shop the brand from Australian stockists THE ICONIC and MYER.

  • The use of recycled polyester allows the brand to take two plastic bottles and create one t-shirt, effectively saving natural resources and energy in the production process.
  • All pieces from the new Aware line have been designed to complement existing collections to help customers integrate them with their exisiting wardrobes and stop consumer waste.
  • Bestseller, the fashion house that owns Vero Moda, also adopted a new strategy that will guide its sustainability work towards 2020 for all labels under it.

5. Veja

Veja kicks may just be the world's most sustainable shoe. Made from raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture, the brand is passionate about the environment. They also take on a huge social responsibility, tackling everything from protecting the Amazon to upcycling materials. Update your footwear and shop a pair from stockists like THE ICONIC and Net-a-Porter.

  • One out of every four Veja designs is 100% vegan, with the other three using leather from a tannery that was audited and certified Gold by the Leather Working Group.
  • Every year the company conducts an audit and publishes its fair trade documents, organic labelling certificates and results of chemical tests carried out on the sneakers in order to be completely transparent with its customers.
  • Each sneaker sole is made up of 30-40% natural rubber that Veja purchases in the Amazon rainforest, directly from Brazilian rubber gathering communities. Since 2004, Veja has purchased more than 130 tons of rubber, in turn preserving 120,000 hectares of the Amazon.

6. H&M

Arguably one of the first high street fashion labels to introduce ethical production methods, H&M finds new ways to use sustainable fabrics without compromising on style. The brand is now aiming to use 100% recycled or other sustainably-sourced materials by 2030. You can shop the label both from the H&M site and instore.

  • In 2018, the brand launched a Conscious Exclusive collection featuring premium pieces with an increased focus on sustainability. Many of the clothing items from the line use new sustainable materials like recycled silver and ECONYL, which is a 100% regenerated fibre from fishing nets and other nylon waste.
  • Over 59% of the cotton used by H&M currently comes from sustainable sources. The company is now working towards upping that figure to 100% by 2020.
  • Best of all, the retailer also has strong ethics when it comes to its workers. The H&M Group partners with the International Labour Organization to promote improved working conditions in the textile and garment industry supply chains.

7. Swedish Hasbeens

With the tagline "Better shoes for a better world", Swedish Hasbeens has put their best foot forward when it comes to ethical footwear. The label has been using sustainable material to make its shoes and accessories since it started in 2006 and is now a global phenomenon, selling in more than 20 countries. You can get your hands on a pair from the Swedish Hasbeens site.

  • Every shoe designed by the label uses naturally tanned vegetable leather whilst all clogs and accessories are made from ecologically prepared natural grain leather.
  • The label firmly believes that machines can never replace people and employs traditional artisans to create the shoes in small factories that have been making footwear for decades.
  • The brand also focuses on creating shoes with maximum durability. The combination of tanned leather and strong wood ensures the pieces will be truly sustainable.

8. Gather&See

Gather&See is an award-winning retailer offering sustainable fashion labels that don't compromise on style. The brand was born out of a desire to see ethical fashion that was cutting edge and fashion savvy. Representing a number of like-minded designers, you're bound to find pieces to fall in love with from this retailer. You can shop the range of sustainable fashion from the Gather&See site.

  • Understanding that "ethical" covers a multitude of concerns, Gather&See has five founding philosophies – Fair Trade, Organic, Eco-Friendly, Small Scale Production and Heritage. As every ethical shopper is different, the label allows customers to filter by these philosophies as they shop to ensure they feel good about their purchase.
  • Gather&See now features more than 40 designers on its site, all of which need to fit into a minimum of 2 founding philosophies to be represented by the brand.
  • Each product has an accompanying in-depth description of the materials and processes used as well as information on where the product was made.

9. Rêve En Vert

Online luxury boutique, Rêve En Vert, is referred to as "the Net-a-Porter of sustainable fashion". Focusing on high-end ethical products, the retailer offers everything from skincare made from organic ingredients to menswear made from recycled materials. You can shop a range of apparel, accessories, home and beauty products from the Rêve En Vert site.

  • Each product has its own sustainability drop-down box detailing everything from where the materials used came from to whether or not the water used in the production process was recycled.
  • To offset the environmental impact of delivering its products internationally, Rêve En Vert makes a donation from all shipping costs to the Trees for the Future charity.
  • All designers represented by the brand fit the retailer's four ethical principles: organic, local, fair and re-made.

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Main image: Instagram user reformation

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