Leggings made from plastic bottles, sneakers crafted from corn waste, dresses sewn in renewable eucalyptus fibers—the greening of fashion is getting creative, as more and more brands play not just with their designs but with their fabrications.
We're highlighting six brands protecting the planet by using revolutionary new materials that might change the way we dress for years to come.
Launched a decade ago, this Los Angeles-based cult favorite was at the helm of the sustainability movement before many others jumped on board. A big part of Reformation's many eco-conscious efforts comes down to its textiles. "We work closely with mills to develop fabrics made from fibers that have a much lighter environmental footprint when compared with conventional cotton or polyester," says Yael Aflalo, founder and CEO. Some of these materials include Tencel™ lyocell, developed by Austrian company Lenzing and made from fast-growing eucalyptus trees; responsibly sourced viscose; recycled cotton and cashmere; and Recover yarns—fibers made from old clothes and fabric waste.
The activewear company made headlines in 2016 when it let consumers try its new recycled-plastic leggings for free. Girlfriend Collective has since expanded to include bras, tops, shorts and bodysuits made from post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets and other ocean waste. The brand's Compressive leggings divert 25 water bottles from landfills, the bike shorts 17, and the bras 11, so consumers can feel good knowing exactly how many bottles they're wearing.
Sustainability has been at the core of this French shoe brand's mission since it launched in 2005. Veja uses organic, agroecological and fair-trade cotton for sneaker canvas and recycled plastic bottles to construct mesh for its sneakers, which are produced in Brazil. Plus, the soles are made from wild rubber from the Amazon—the only place in the world where rubber trees grow naturally. The wild rubber industry in Amazonia prevents deforestation while providing a livelihood for local harvesters.
The denim manufacturer is another brand using renewable botanicals to produce fibers, such as Tencel modal, another Lenzing product made from beechwood, and Refibra, a material made of upcycled cotton scraps combined with wood pulp. These fabrics are not only innovative in source but they also help cut back on one of our most precious resources: water. "Through the combination of these fibers and the right machinery and production methods, we're able to minimize the final environmental impact when compared to the traditional pair of jeans," says Zahra Ahmed, vice president of marketing at DL1961.
The New York-based brand's name stands for "A Mindful Use of Resources," so sustainability is at its forefront—especially when it comes to textiles. The line offers colorful prints, playful textures and unique silhouettes you may not suspect of being eco-friendly. "AMUR is motivated by a global vision that fashion can have a positive impact on the future," says president and CEO Mitchell Hops.
The classic boat-shoe company has launched a line of styles designed with plastic recovered from marine and coastal environments. Made in partnership with eco-engineering firm BIONIC®, each pair uses an average of five plastic bottles. Sperry's goal is to remove and reuse 125,000 bottles with this one collection.